Q & A with Mounds View School Board candidates

Joshua Nielsen
Bulletin staff

Voters will elect three residents to serve four-year terms on the Mounds View School Board, ISD 621 on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

In that race, incumbents Jon Tynjala, Marre Jo Sager, Greg Madsen and challenger John Hakes will be competing for the three open seats.

On Nov. 5, voters will also decide whether or not the district will continue to receive its $11.5 million annual property tax levy for another 10 years. If the levy is renewed it would begin in 2015 and continue through 2023. ISD 621 currently receives nearly 30 percent of its funding through property taxes.

Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 5. Find your polling place at www.co.ramsey.mn.us/elections/ or contact Ramsey County Elections at 651-266-2171.


John Hakes

John Hakes

John Hakes, 48, is married to Jennifer and has a son who attends Chippewa Middle School and a daughter who attends Mounds View High School. He has spent most of his career performing financial auditing services, and said he is currently transitioning into the public policy realm in between project-based assignments. Hakes has a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in applied public policy with a focus on K-12 education. Hakes is also an appointed member of the Ramsey County Capital Improvements Committee and the Ramsey County Board of Appeal and Equalization.

Q & A with John Hakes

Q: After speaking with community members on your campaign trail, what do you feel are the most important issues facing School District 621?

A: I have communicated with voters in several venues, including: neighborhood visits, a New Brighton-based candidate forum, senior center socializing, a private party, a New Brighton area candidate chat, and assorted media channels. I’ve also met with principals Gengler and Ridlehoover, who lead 621’s two major high schools. Through those visits, I’ve heard many inspiring student success stories of well-rounded young people who lead academically, athletically and artistically. Concerns cover the general to the specific, from worry about ‘keeping the quality’ in a messed up world to an interest in returning 621’s Community Education focus to youth, rather than adult, programming.

Q: What programs or services in the district would you like to see enhanced, introduced or eliminated? 

A: District stakeholders need to fine tune the meaning of student college and career readiness. Thankfully, the Minnesota Legislature has provided school boards and their communities authority to deliberate on strategy, curriculum and technology matters by beefing up Minnesota Statute 120B.11. Clearly, our district has much going for it, but challenges remain in preparing students for jobs many employers say cannot be filled now, or jobs that don’t yet exist. Character education, solid inquiry skills, enhanced problem-solving skills, and myriad forms of communication will always be critical. Relevant, technologically-based instruction is one area that deserves more careful consideration in our schools.


Greg Madsen

Greg Madsen

Incumbent Greg Madsen, 56, has served on the District 621 School Board for over five years. He was appointed to fill a vacancy in June, 2008 and was elected to a four-year term in 2009. He is married to Ellie and has three sons, two of whom are in college and one who is a senior at Mounds View High School. Madsen is an education law attorney and shareholder in the Kennedy and Graven Law Firm. He has a law degree (J.D) from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Q & A with Greg Madsen

Q: After speaking with community members on your campaign trail, what do you feel are the most important issues facing School District 621?

A: The Mounds View Public Schools truly are among the best in Minnesota. Both Irondale and Mounds View again were ranked by U.S. News and World Report as among the nation’s best high schools. In standardized testing, our students perform above national norms. However, we sometimes are asked how we serve students who are in the academic “middle” or challenged by other factors. I am proud to have served on a board that always has supported educational programs aimed at helping ensure post-high school success for all students. Our district’s innovations have included free ACT testing for all juniors and the Early College Program.

Q: What programs or services in the district would you like to see enhanced, introduced or eliminated? 

A: To help address the ongoing challenge of ensuring that all students will be prepared for post-secondary success, we also will offer all-day kindergarten at no fee to parents beginning in the fall of 2014.


John Tynjala

John Tynjala

John Tynjala, 46, has served on the district’s school board for nearly eight years. He is married to Susie and has two daughters who attend Irondale High School. Tynjala is an attorney and partner at Mackall, Crounse and Moore, PLC. He has a law degree (J.D.) from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Q & A with John Tynjala

Q: After speaking with community members on your campaign trail, what do you feel are the most important issues facing School District 621?

A: The district needs to continue to focus on increasing achievement for the middle 30 to 70 percent of our student population as well as the need to close the achievement gap. These are related and complementary challenges. We need to continue to develop programs and initiatives that help this group of students to think differently about their future, to formulate a dream for themselves after high school, and to make certain that the programs we provide as a district are aligned to give them the opportunity to realize that dream.  

Q: What programs or services in the district would you like to see enhanced, introduced or eliminated? 

A: The district needs to continue with the implementation and expansion of Early College at the high schools, the STEAM program at the middle schools, and the introduction of all day every day Kindergarten in the Fall of 2014, among others. These types of initiatives have already shown great promise in aligning expectations and opportunities for students to address the achievement gap generally and the needs of our students in the middle in particular. That kind of alignment requires the application of strong, steady and experienced leadership – exactly the kind of leadership that I have provided over the last eight years.


Marre Jo Sager

Marre Jo Sager

Marre Jo Sager has served on the Mounds View School Board for 20 years and is seeking another four-year term. She is married to Frank and has a grown son who graduated from Irondale and a niece currently attending school in the district. Sager has worked for the U.S. Geologic Society in Mounds View as an administrative officer for more than 30 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in communication and a bachelor’s in humanities from the College of St. Benedict, and an MBA Certificate for Government Managers from the University of St. Thomas.

Q & A with Marre Jo Sager

Q: After speaking with community members on your campaign trail, what do you feel are the most important issues facing School District 621?

A: Continuing to move forward with the innovative programming that is planned or in place, STEAM, Early College High School, and all day everyday no fee kindergarten. These programs are vital to the Equity Promise ensuring all Mounds View students have not only increased opportunities for success while in Mounds View schools, but when they move on to their post-graduation plans, whatever they may be. Residents are happy with the financial stability they have come to count on through the board’s focus: conservative budgeting, targeted spending and keeping administrative costs down. Mounds View schools are good for increased property values.

Q: What programs or services in the district would you like to see enhanced, introduced or eliminated? 

A: It will be important to continue to enhance Mounds View’s comprehensive programming. The Equity Promise with classes, programs and services that cross the depth and breadth of our students’ needs. Also, important work around assessment monitoring and focusing on curriculum reviews across levels will need to be continued and possibly expanded. Technology and how it is used by students and staff to increase student learning and achievement will need to be a continued priority. Enhancing and fine tuning the Communications Plan will keep it relevant and useful. Finding new partnerships and collaborations will ensure increased value added across the community.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7824.

 

 

 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment

Full HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Use [scribd id=xx key=yy mode=zz] where xx is you scribd document_id, yy is your scribd document access_key and zz is your optional mode (scroll or slideshow) to create a link to the scribd document.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.