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Pictured are the candidates for the Farmington School District 192 Board of Education.

Candidate questions 2012: Farmington School Board

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news Farmington, 55024
Farmington Independent
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Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

In the interest of helping Farmington voters make more informed decisions when they go to the polls Nov. 6, the Independent has reached out to the candidates to find out where they stand. We asked candidates for the Farmington School District 192 Board of Education to answer the same questions, and we're providing their answers to you here.

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Eric Bartosh

City of residence Farmington

How long in the district 10 years

Immediate family Wife, Alyssa; children Drew, Brynn and Hollis

Occupation Sixth grade reading teacher and reading specialist at Valley Middle School, Apple Valley; varsity wide receivers coach at Eagan High School

What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Farmington School Board?

I want to expand our pre-K and all-day kindergarten opportunities for all of our pre-K and kindergarten aged students. There is extensive research that proves the sooner kids are exposed to letter-sound relationships, concepts of print and other foundational literacy instruction, the better they will perform throughout their academic career. Secondly, I want to support the K-12 physical education programming and the extra-curricular activities offered to middle and high school students. Active, healthy students have a tendency to perform better in school. In addition, by allowing for kids to explore activities in the middle school they learn more about themselves and find new ways to connect to the school. Thirdly, I want to support and expand the College in the Schools. This program that allows for our students to earn college credits for free, while still in high school. Finally, I want to provide opportunities for kids interested in vocational or certification programs that do not require a four-year degree. I believe this is the strongest form of individualized learning we could provide our students.

Why do you believe you're the best person to get that done?

I have over 13 years of experience in public education. I have worked with curriculum development and selection, assessment, staff development, instructional best practices, peer evaluations and observations as well as co-curricular coaching and administration at the middle and high school levels. I am committed to serving the community and will make decisions in the best interest of our students.

What do you consider the most important factor in ensuring students get a good education in Farmington schools?

Students and their families must be aware of all of the opportunities available to them. Then, we need them to have the confidence to take advantage of those opportunities. Once that has been accomplished we must have the best teachers, administrators and support personnel in place to deliver the programming available.

Do you support the Farmington School District's efforts to provide an iPad for every student? Why or why not?

Now that they are in our possession, I want to make this initiative as successful as possible. All of our students must have experience working with technology in order to prepare them for life outside of their formal K-12 education. I'm sure there are already some amazing things that have been done with them and I'm excited to see how they have been applied to help students struggling with a concept re-learn the material. I'm also extremely interested to see how they have been used to enrich the learning for our "gifted and talented" learners. Finally, I believe that these iPads could provide another way to engage the families of our students. As a board member, I will be vigilant about the data we receive about the application and effectiveness of the iPads and then determine whether our return on investment is satisfactory.

What does District 192 do well? Where can it improve?

192 is able to identify a goal and move quickly to implement what is believed to be the best way to address it. They are creative about ways to offer pre-school programming. For example, there is a Thursday evening Wee Tigers class that runs from 6-8 p.m. There is still a community "feel" to the district because all of the students feed into one high school.

I believe we can improve District 192 by building an image in the metro that focuses on collaborative problem solving and by offering programs that succeed in meeting student needs and interests. We must also have leaders that will follow the expectations we set for everyone associated with our district. I also want to see 192 do a better job of ensuring more standardized instruction across grade levels at the different buildings.

Laura Beem

City of residence Lakeville

How long in the district 13 years

Immediate family Husband, Bill; daughter, Kasey, eighth grade at Dodge Middle School; son, Matt; fourth grade at North Trail Elementary School

Occupation Accounting manager for a retail corporation

What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Farmington School Board?

The most important thing I would like to see accomplished is that we are positioned for the future from a budget perspective. The district is projecting growing budget deficits over the next several years. We need to look beyond small adjustments and make long term, systemic improvements to the way we do business. The process needs to involve prioritization, cost reductions, and process improvements. It is important to keep spending focused on the classrooms, so we need make sure our spending is efficient and effective. We also need to identify ways to grow revenue such as increasing open enrollment into our schools, improving facility rental pricing and applying for grants.

Why do you believe you're the best person to get that done?

I have over 20 years of accounting, budget and finance experience. I am a Certified Public Accountant (inactive status) and a Certified Internal Auditor. I have worked for various large organizations including government, family owned and large corporations.

In addition, I have actively volunteered with the North Trail Elementary Parent Teacher Partnership for over five years, serving as the president for two years. I have served on several district committees including the School Boundaries Committee in 2009, the Citizens' Finance Committee in 2010 and on a Strategic Planning Strategy Team in 2012. These experiences have provided me insight into challenges, innovations, and successes in our district.

Two years ago, I helped lead a grassroots effort to convince the previous board and administration to listen to parents' concerns over increasing class sizes. We asked the school board to cut administrative positions to fund smaller class sizes.

What do you consider the most important factor in ensuring students get a good education in Farmington schools?

I believe that quality teachers are the most important factor to ensuring students receive a good education. I believe our district already has high quality, dedicated teachers and that by having the right structures in place we can further improve teacher quality. Professional learning communities of teachers of like subjects are great ways for teachers to improve their skills. We have some in place today and we need to continue to foster and develop these communities. I also believe that if we implement pay programs that reward schools for increases in student growth, we can improve coordinated curriculum throughout the building and the end result will be increased student achievement.

Do you support the Farmington School District's efforts to provide an iPad for every student? Why or why not?

There are two reasons I support this program. One, the district's strategic plan revolves around customized student learning. This method allows students to learn at their own achievement level, rather than a "one size fits most" approach generally used today. Under that kind of approach, all students in a class would receive the same assignments. Under customized student learning, assignments will be based on individual ability level. Additionally, this method of learning will allow students to explore further when they find something that sparks their interest. Teachers will need tools in order to manage assignments and to continually assess students. Students will be able to complete online assignments, have research at their fingertips and be able to explore when they find that spark. The iPads can be that tool and more.

The second reason I support the iPads is because the district funded them within the current operating budget. The district reduced expenses for producing paper copies, maintenance on personal computers, and textbooks in order to purchase the iPads.

What does District 192 do well? Where can it improve?

I believe that Farmington does a great job of providing a well rounded education. While we have seen other districts cut languages, arts and physical education time, Farmington has maintained these programs. Our district believes in providing students a well rounded education and not just teaching to standardized tests.

That being said, an area in which I would like to see improvement is standardized tests. We have some schools doing well, and others lagging behind. I would like to see us move achievement up and maintain it at that higher level. I believe that proper implementation of customized student learning will be a key component to increasing student achievement.

Robert Carpentier

City of residence Farmington

How long in the district Two years

Immediate family Wife, Liz; sons Nicolas (17) and Matthew (5) and daughter, Gianna (3)

Occupation Teacher

What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Farmington School Board?

My chief goals are to continue the financial responsibility and stewardship the district has shown, increase the draw of the district in order to retain the best educators and grow the district in partnership with the city so that we increase the overall and student populations while helping to relieve individual tax burdens. In short, I want to help create the most sought after district of choice for parents, students and teachers in the state in a fiscally sound manner.

Why do you believe you're the best person to get that done?

In short, my background provides me with more practical experience and education in virtually all of the key issues the board will typically face. My extensive successful classroom experience is supplemented by my administrative experience and the two have allowed me to understand the issues facing both and how to best address those issues. My legal degree and experience, especially in the area of collective bargaining, have given me significant practical experience in dealing with contractual issues from both a union and managerial perspective. Being the parent of a special needs student has allowed me to become well-versed in the challenges and solutions of our special education programming. My more than 20 years of successful coaching experience has given me the insight to help promote the values of a well-rounded education for every student and the necessity of extracurricular programming to that education. Finally, I have a great deal of financial experience specifically pertaining to education, technology in the classroom and educational programming across the spectrum.

What do you consider the most important factor in ensuring students get a good education in Farmington schools?

Studies have clearly shown that student/teacher relationships are the most important factor in ensuring student success. Technological bells and whistles are great, but tools are only as good as the person using them. Concepts such as differentiated instruction and individualized educational planning, both of which I fully support in the district's strategic vision, are only as good as the person implementing them. To this end we need to ensure that ISD 192 attracts and retains the best teachers while providing them a work environment that allows their expertise to shine. That would mean ensuring appropriate classroom population size.

Do you support the Farmington School District's efforts to provide an iPad for every student? Why or why not?

I support the iPad initiative, but with some concerns. As I have stated many times, individualized instruction is the best form of education for students. That is why tutors are generally successful. The use of the iPads has the possibility of taking us in exciting and successful new directions. However, there are concerns; my son's school is has been involved in an iPad initiative over the past several years. There were some major hiccups in areas that I feel that our district has yet to address. For instance, there are security issues involving downloads, etc., that haven't been resolved. There are issues of parent training and teacher training. There are issues of cost and whether the district acted with due diligence when looking at other more financially sound options. Then there's the marketing part of this; most people I have talked with in the district feel that the iPad program has been "rammed" through the board. We need to ensure our residents understand that this wasn't the case.

What does District 192 do well? Where can it improve?

The district does a wonderful job of creating a vision for where the community wants to be. There is a real sense of "community" in Farmington and the academic programming and the teachers that deliver it are second-to-none. An area for improvement would be the relationship we have with the city of Farmington. Not that it is bad, but there are so many things we can do that would be mutually beneficial if we worked more closely for the common goals we have. Currently, that isn't the case.

Jake Cordes

City of residence Farmington

How long in the district 21 years

Immediate family Father, Breck; mother, Lisa; brother, Josh

Occupation Publishing intern at Thomson Reuters

What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Farmington School Board?

I hope to make our School District a great one -- I want Farmington to be the envy of school districts across the state. Farmington already offers a good education but we can be great. We have the resources: excellent teachers and staff, accomplished administrators, and resourceful students, we just need the extra drive to become great. Not only do I want to make our district great, I want to be fiscally responsible. I want to make sure our tax dollars are well spent and we are not over burdening our residents with taxes.

Why do you believe you're the best person to get that done?

I believe I am the best candidate to do this because I am a recent Farmington graduate and I know, first-hand what works in the classroom and what doesn't. I will utilize the relationships I have built with the teachers, staff, administrators, and students to champion an environment of innovation and excellence.

What do you consider the most important factor in ensuring students get a good education in Farmington schools?

There are two things that ensure our students get a good education. The first is having access to good teachers. There is something special about the teachers here in our district, they care deeply about their students and go the extra mile to see them succeed. The second factor is giving them great opportunities. Our students have access to good academics as well as great athletic programs and arts programs, these opportunities make sure our students receive a good education complete with extra curricular opportunities.

Do you support the Farmington School District's efforts to provide an iPad for every student? Why or why not?

I support this plan. This technology is everywhere, why take it away in the classroom, we need to use it to our advantage and offer our students a revolutionary education. It's important to understand that each of our students learn in different ways (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic) and with the iPads our teachers can customize their messaging to mesh with each student's unique needs. But not only will this help our students in the classroom, it will be a great benefit when they enter the real world. Every day we are surrounded by technology, lets educate our children about technology and the responsible use of it so they can succeed when they graduate. With this technology our students will not only learn the material, but they will excel in and out of the classroom.

What does District 192 do well? Where can it improve?

The district is doing a fantastic job of modernizing the approach to education. We are riding the wave in what really is a paradigm shift in education. We need to continue to update and improve the way we are delivering our content to the students. By using technology we can deliver content to our students in new and fascinating ways that will help each child learn in their own way and help each child achieve even more. The use of technology will also make our students more nimble, an attribute that is becoming more and more important in college and the work force.

As for improvement, we need to take advantage of this technology and offer courses that will make our students competitive in the real world, whether that means new languages that are becoming more and more important in global interactions -- Mandarin or Farsi; or teaching skills that will aid them in their careers. One of the biggest complaints I have heard in both the college and professional settings is that students are not fluent in Microsoft Office programs. If students are unable to operate these basic programs when they go to college or enter the work force they will fall behind. But we can remedy that by offering classes that will prepare our students and make them attractive to colleges and employers.

John Guist

City of residence Empire Township

How long in the district 12 1/2 years

Immediate family Wife, Paige; chlidren Zach (12), Izabella (10), Elijah (8) and a baby due in October

Occupation Church-planting pastor and employee at an IT company.

What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Farmington School Board?

Ensure a high level of integrity, excellence, and community wide momentum for our district to become the school district of the south metro area that sets the standard for excellence.

Why do you believe you're the best person to get that done?

Twenty-plus years in various business, education, and community wide leadership roles in the south metro. I am able to bridge the gap of many diverse groups and work at guiding them to strategic actions that bring about transformational results.

What do you consider the most important factor in ensuring students get a good education in Farmington schools?

There really isn't one silver bullet and to give an answer that assumes this shows a lack of understanding of the issue. But to give people an idea of my position I will give three bullet points that address the issue:

• Home life

• Quality teachers

• Economics

Do you support the Farmington School District's efforts to provide an iPad for every student? Why or why not?

Right now I do because we have made the initial investment and it is a step in the right direction for preparing our kids for life in the 21st century. I will say if we are going to do this we need carry out initiative in a manner that is both fiscally responsible and supporting our mission.

What does District 192 do well?

We have some of the best teachers in the country, great extra-curricular activities and we now are working through a strategic plan than has B.H.A.G.s second to none. (B.H.A.G. = Big Hairy Audacious Goals)

Where can it improve?

Budgeting with a looming deficits. This will be our new normal and we have to plan/spend accordingly w/out imposing a crushing tax burden on the public. Again to propose a solution in one sentence, at best a shallow sound bite and will require a lot of collaboration and planning.

Julie Singewald

Incumbent

City of residence Empire Township

How long in the district Since 1996

Immediate family Husband, Bill; daughters Jessica, 15 (FHS), Molly, 13 (BMS) and Anna, 10 (RVES)

Occupation Allina Health Laboratory Manager, Abbot Northwestern Hospital

What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Farmington School Board?

I want to help bring a balanced perspective to the table, ensuring multiple points of view are represented when making decisions. District actions must be transparent by avoiding "meeting before the meeting" intentionally and non-intentionally. I want to keep all discussions at the table which is not only our responsibility, but best for the district and community. As a board member, it's our job to challenge the superintendent and administrative staff to meet the financial limitations and district policies, but allow them to be the educational experts.

Why do you believe you're the best person to get that done?

I have been on the Farmington school board for four years and if re-elected would be the only board member with more than two years experience. New members do bring a new set of eyes and a fresh perspective to the challenges the district faces, but there is also strength in knowing where we have been. I have children attending at all levels of school in this district which gives me a unique 'whole district' perspective. That experience and broad district view will be my foundation when making decisions. I have a passion for providing a quality education for all students and want Farmington to establish a solid start for future community members and leaders. My occupation in health care has given me experience with project management through system process improvement initiatives, employee engagement and responsibility for meeting budget targets at one of the largest hospitals in the metro area.

What do you consider the most important factor in ensuring students get a good education in Farmington schools?

District staff. The teaching staff by far have the most impact on our students in the classroom, but wanting to keep in perspective of the big picture and the importance of all groups and their success that leads to excellent student education. Leadership staff drives the direction of the district and fiscal balance to the resources. Secretaries, nurses, aids, food services technology and specialists support the 'whole' student in the buildings. Facilities staff ensure the buildings are clean and in good repair for healthy and safe learning environment.

Do you support the Farmington School District's efforts to provide an iPad for every student? Why or why not?

I cautiously support the district iPad initiative. By committing to hand every teacher and student an iPad, we are making a significant financial investment in a single technology, and banking on possible savings through reduced paper and books. I want to ensure that the investment sustainable past a three year lease. I want to ensure the teachers have the best tools to educate this district's students, but not restrict them to a single device and teaching method. I feel this initiative needs to be implemented in a well measured manner to guarantee we aren't devoting too many resources to a single teaching tool that limits district staff from having other tools to effectively educate students.

What does District 192 do well? Where can it improve?

District 192 does well at innovating and supporting new initiatives in individual classrooms and buildings. Our district is getting better at expanding these initiatives district wide, but this is an area that we can continue to improve by building more district wide student achievement expectations and facilitating more opportunities for building professional groups to come together for all students. We need to continue to increase student achievement levels, celebrating our district successes more publicly and promote this district as the district of choice for a strong well rounded education where students graduate college or career ready.

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