The race for School Board in Eastern Carver County Schools has been mildly disappointing so far. As a Chaska resident, with five Chaska citizens running for the three open spots on the Board, I was expecting a lot of interaction from the candidates. Less than two weeks before the election, though, I haven’t been door-knocked or received any literature from any of the candidates. There’ s a smattering of road signs, and the usual Q&As in the Chaska Herald. People I know who are usually pretty plugged in to these elections have been left scratching their heads about who to vote for.
Based on my research, there’s one candidate who clearly stands above the others and that is Jeff Ross.
Ross works as key executive in a start-up biomedical firm, and has a doctorate in biology and genetics. He speaks intelligently and with purpose on the critical issues that face our District. His real-world business experience will help the District address any future potholes in the budget process.
Most importantly, though, he has a defined vision of where he wants to the see the District go: enhanced partnerships with business, return-focused investment in technology, better two-way communication with all citizens in the District, and continued emphasis on science and technology across all grade levels. That vision is one of the key factors that distinguishes him and is one of the key factors voters should look for in a School Board candidate because ultimately it is the School Board that sets the strategic direction for the administration to follow.
I’m also planning on voting for Amy Logue.
Logue has a strong history of dedication to the District. She rightfully identifies the 112 Foundation as an opportunity to augment the District’s budget that is not being utilized to its full potential as well as the critical importance of school libraries and media centers to the educational experience. Logue speaks smartly to potential benefits and possible pitfalls with the upcoming changes in teacher evaluation and compensation (Ross does as well) and the critical need for the District to do a better job of soliciting feedback from parents and residents.
I encourage you to vote for Jeff Ross and Amy Logue on November 6.
Let me talk briefly about the other three candidates. All of them are qualified to be on the Board, and they each bring their own strengths to the table. As of this moment, I’m still undecided who I will vote for for the third open position.
Larry Doran deserves credit for pointing out what no one else wanted to talk about in this campaign: the feeling among a portion of the community that Chaska High School was getting the short end of the stick when compared to Chanhassen High School. And while that feeling is, in my opinion (and Doran’s as well), more perception than reality, we need leaders who are willing to address that issue head on and tackle it. Doran’s record as the President of the Chaska High Booster Club shows that he is well-positioned to build those external partnerships that will be required to supplement the District’s budget.
Jim Leone and Heather Nelson are the two incumbents running for re-election. They can take pride in the strong academic performance the schools have delivered in recent years as well as the selection of key executives — Superintendent Jim Bauck and Finance Director DeeDee Kahring are top-notch professionals. Leone has spent the last nine years on the Board, and his experience has helped guide a Board filled with a lot of newcomers.
Nelson’s background in science and technology is similar to Ross’s and she brings real passion to the table for improving the District’s efforts in that area.
However, Leone and Nelson have to bear responsibility for the District’s muddled technology referendum campaign last year. The District’s technology future is still largely up in the air because of the way that issue was handled. For Leone to express his puzzlement at why some people don’t think the District does a good job of communicating when the District doesn’t do things that it could easily do like publish full minutes of their Board meetings on their website, for instance, causes me to express puzzlement.