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Voter Guide: Esko school board

 

October 2, 2020

Mark Nyholm

A note from Julian Bertogliat

I have decided not to run for re-election for the upcoming term. I have been a school board member for three terms and my health issues are telling me it's time to retire. I have spent over 50 years serving the Esko schools in many capacities and will continue to help in any way I can.

I want to thank the Esko community for the support they have given me throughout my years of service.

Sincerely,

Julian Bertogliat

*****

Mark Nyholm

Background

I am a husband, a father, a professional businessman, a volunteer and proud member of the Esko community. I have worked in the engineering profession for the past 21 years. I excel in project leadership, strategy and planning, and financial stewardship. I make decisions based on data and logic.

What made you decide to run for school board this year?

I'm privileged to serve on the Esko School board the past four years. I'd be proud to provide another four years of strategy and direction.

What do you think are the top two issues facing the school district and how would you go about tackling them?

A)Esko is a growing community and our school is highly attractive in the area. That said, our school can only manage so many students while achieving our goals of small class sizes, and we address this each year. At some point we will be forced to make hard decisions about either class sizes or open enrollment. One, or both, will have to change based on our school size. I support being more creative with our space so we don't have to build a new school and maintain that great small class Esko educational environment.

B)I grew up with technology, have a degree in technology, and have spent my career researching and developing technology. I know what it takes to stay ahead of the technological curve in our ever rapidly changing world. The school must continue to make strategic investments in technology so that our children graduate with the skills they need to be successful. That needs to support students attending universities as well as those going straight into the trade fields. I support decisions that promote advances in technology so that all children have access to what they need to ensure their success now and in the future.

Elaborate on something you think the school board has handled well over the past two years.

A)The school board, administration and staff really took the back-to-school challenge during our pandemic in stride. It would be unjust not to address this. They simply redesigned education in a matter of weeks for something we've tweaked for the past 100 years. I appreciate all of you for that.

B)The board has been diligent about budget and spending. Our financial status is excellent. We've run successful projects saving the school and community money.

The coronavirus has changed education in many ways. Are there things we can learn from the reaction to the pandemic even after it passes?

This pandemic has opened the eyes of our entire community as to how easy it can be to spread germs. This is even more important during the normal cold and flu season months as it directly affects the successful learning environment of our students. Students that are not feeling well need to stay home lowering the risk of that spread to the school. With the ability of online learning it becomes easier for staff to be able to provide education for those students that need to stay home while sick. No longer will they miss a day of learning and feel behind.

Why should people vote for you?

I've provided a refreshing viewpoint to the board for the past four years. I truly care about the success of our students and the staff responsible for educating them. I will provide strategic leadership to the board founded on my professional experience and make the best decisions for our community.

*****

Steve McConnell

Background

I have over 20-plus years of experience in technology and security. I have three different computer degrees from LSC. I served on several different boards including Lions Club, Esko Soccer, Esko Baseball, Northwoods Credit Union, and Esko Curriculum Committee. I've been a volunteer coach in the community 13-plus years.

What made you decide to run for school board this year?

I've been active in the school since having kids. It's time for me to put my technical skills and knowledge to use within the school.

What do you think are the top two issues facing the school district and how would you go about tackling them?

I am running to continue to work on the safety and security of our children and staff in the school. We are doing a great job, but there is always room for improvement. I want to look at how we are using technology, but not forget about the good old pen and paper. I see so many kids with all their technology and they don't even know how to sign their names on a signature pad or on a form. Being in technology I love it, don't get me wrong, but it's not everything. Physical Security is also a main topic for me. With everything going on in the world today, we need to make sure all our children are safe and that procedures/policies are up to date, tested and working. The key to managing through these situations is the ability to think strategically, but also develop realistic plans to solve issues. I believe I can use my skills to help the school board think strategically and develop plans for long-term growth for the district, but also balance needs of the short term.

Elaborate on something you think the school board has handled well over the past two years.

I think the school board has done an outstanding job hiring and keeping all our great faculty within our Esko School. We have teachers and staff that have been there for years. They are not only our students' teachers, but often the parents have had these great teachers too.

The coronavirus has changed education in many ways. Are there things we can learn from the reaction to the pandemic even after it passes?

Education for sure has changed with the Covid pandemic. From the end of the year to the start of the new school year it's been different to say the least. For any situation there is always something to learn. Being in my line of work you can always plan, but it's not perfect or there is always something you think about after, but you do the best you can with the tools you have. I'm thankful that we have the technology and teachers that stepped up and handled the situation as best they could. Learning and moving forward is key.

Why should people vote for you?

I want to give back to the community with my leadership and technology experience. My efforts as a board member would center on serving all of the children in the community; one child is no more important than another. Communication is key. We need fresh faces that the community knows.

*****

Jerry Frederick

Background

I've held two non-consecutive four-year terms and was past chair. I've worked as an Electronic Technician Senior for Minnesota Power for 36 years and bring technological and construction/maintenance knowledge. I have broad board experience including the Arrowhead Radio Amateur Club, Grandma's Marathon, and IBEW Local 31.

What made you decide to run for school board this year?

I've been a member of the Esko community for 36 years. My family and I have always been committed to giving back to our community.

What do you think are the top two issues facing the school district and how would you go about tackling them?

Providing the best educational opportunities for our students in a safe welcoming environment using the latest teaching methods while not overtaxing the community members.

We continually practice this by being fiscally responsible by keeping an eye on the budget. We keep the facilities in good shape with regular maintenance so that they don't have to be replaced. We always try to look at what expenditures are best for the students.

The biggest issue facing the district right now is choosing the right model for school learning during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. We get guidance from the state but have to also think of local factors that are unique to Esko. We have to keep current on information from the experts using a wide variety of sources and, working alongside school administration, make the best decision possible on what our course of action should be. Also being able to be flexible as conditions change. I also think that it is important to take feedback from the community and staff to gain their perspectives. Although you can't please everyone all of the time, we are trying to make students experience at Esko the very best possible.

Elaborate on something you think the school board has handled well over the past two years.

I think that the board has done a good job by keeping focused on what's important for the students at Esko. Covid has created a challenge for life as we once knew it. We remained flexible and with administration working as a team, were able to provide even a great graduation experience for the class of 2020.

The coronavirus has changed education in many ways. Are there things we can learn from the reaction to the pandemic even after it passes?

You must plan for today while keeping your eye on tomorrow. Education always continues to evolve. Esko has always tried to be, sometimes not on the leading edge, but a close follower taking advantage of some of the bugs being worked out of new technologies before we make a huge investment. Just as businesses have done things differently during the pandemic, so have our students. Although unpleasant and sometimes scary, students are getting a look at how the business world works. Success is often determined on those who can react quickly to the changing environment.

Why should people vote for you?

I've been an active volunteer in the school for decades, member of the District Technology Committee; mentor, Esko SubZero Robotics; past chair, Community Education Advisory Board and volunteer in many other activities. With your vote, I promise to continue to work hard for the community and students of Esko.

*****

Leona Johnson

Background

As a retired school administrator, I will bring varied experiences to the board table: k-12 curriculum planning; negotiating with unions and companies; district level budgeting; technology applications in K-12 curriculums; successful grant writing for counseling, AODA, and mental health programming K-12, as well as strategic planning and goal setting.

What made you decide to run for school board this year?

My experiences align with Esko's goals through 2024, including curriculum in the technology programs, technology best practices, and mental health services and programs.

What do you think are the top two issues facing the school district and how would you go about tackling them?

Managing the costs of operating our schools is a major issue as we strive to provide high quality education to our students. My experiences in negotiating and grant writing as well as strategic planning can help us continue to provide outstanding educational services for families. I have and will seek to negotiate better contracts with telephone companies, internet providers, and health care providers to provide quality services at reduced costs. Access to technology across our community is not equal. We need to find ways to negotiate with providers to extend access community-wide.

Another issue is providing quality education that meets every student's needs. Students have different skills, interests, career goals, and dreams, and we need to facilitate different pathways for success. Curriculums need to be aligned with all career and technical education pathways so all students experience success in reaching their career goals.

Elaborate on something you think the school board has handled well over the past two years.

As I talk with my children, grandchildren, their friends, and others in the community, and have volunteered in the Esko Schools, I can see that Esko staff and school board continue to provide quality education in a well-disciplined environment. This is critical for learning to take place, and I commend them for this. It is something the district needs to continue to promote and even expand upon, emphasizing positive relationships within the school community.

The coronavirus has changed education in many ways. Are there things we can learn from the reaction to the pandemic even after it passes?

Steve McConnell

I commend the staff and board for their response to the coronavirus. In hindsight, we can see that what hits major cities takes time to impact smaller communities. Thus, I hope we can continue to press for local control of responses to such events. Also, the need for equity across our community for Internet access is something we must address. My experiences in grant writing and negotiating could be helpful with this challenge. A networked community is not only needed for distance learning, it also opens up opportunities for online learning that have not been utilized to date.

Why should people vote for you?

I believe I can benefit the Esko School District and community with the varied experiences I bring to the board table. I can bring insight: what can work, what may not work, where we can find resources, how we can collaborate, how we can reach our goals. Thank you.

 
 

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