Friday, October 18, 2013

Wayzata school board candidates vie to fill three open seats

Wayzata School District Board Room. Photo: Wayzata Public Schools

The philosophy of the schoolhouse in one generation is the philosophy of the government in the next generation. —Abraham Lincoln (attributed)

On November 5, voters in the Wayzata School District will choose from nine candidates to fill three open seats on the district's board of directors. School board elections typically do not attract line-out-the-door numbers of voters, so your vote will have a greater influence over the outcome than statewide or national elections. But for whom should you vote?

The school district is accountable to the community through its elected board of directors. So I sent three rather pointed questions to each of the candidates. I will share any responses I receive. I think that these responses (or lack thereof) will provide you with more information than the standard "why are you running for school board" type of questions. Here are the questions I asked:
  1. The Wayzata School Board is considering approval of a February referendum to provide bonding (debt) for a new elementary school, additions to the high school, and other infrastructure improvements. If the school board approves the referendum, will you be supportive of it? Why or why not?
  2. In an apparent contradiction with state statutes (123B.09), the Wayzata School Board has delegated full authority for curriculum matters to the Superintendent. He, in turn, has delegated this authority to the curriculum and teaching staff. Curriculum issues presented to the school board (such as integrated math, state standards, International Baccalaureate, and Common Core curriculum) are directed to non-elected curriculum and building staff, without action or discussion by the board. Do you think this is appropriate? Why or why not?
  3. During its most recent session, the Minnesota Legislature removed the requirement that high school students pass a minimum skills test (known as the GRAD test) in order to graduate, and removed the requirement that teachers pass a basic skills test in order to become licensed. In light of these changes, what can local school districts including Wayzata do to ensure the high academic outcomes and teaching standards that residents have come to expect?
The nine candidates are:
Check the Lakeshore Weekly News, Plymouth Patch, and Sun Sailor for more candidate information between now and election day

Refer to the school district website for complete election information, including polling locations. Your polling place for the school board election may be different from your general election poll. This page also includes the broadcast schedule for the October 21 candidate debate moderated by the League of Women Voters, and hosted by the Wayzata High School Parent-Teacher Organization.

What have you learned about the candidates? Who do you plan to support and why? Let us know in the comments.

You can influence the direction of the Wayzata Schools with your vote on November 5. Get informed, and get out and vote.

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