Election 2022: 6 Running for 3 Seats on Sauk Rapids-Rice Board
SAUK RAPIDS/RICE (WJON News) -- There are six people running for three open seats this fall on the Sauk Rapids-Rice School Board.
The three incumbents are Lisa Braun, Robyn Holthaus, and Lisa Loidolt. The three newcomers are Warren Christie, Dan Johnson, and Annie Newville.
Annie Newville has lived in Sauk Rapids for over 20 years and has two children in the district. This is her first run at a public office.
She says she's running to be involved in something local and has a number of priorities she'd like to take on as a member of the board.
I want to have fiscal responsibility and transparency, I want to attract and retain high quality educators, I want to ensure quality education and a path for every student, I want to create a safe and secure environment, and I want to make sure to represent the entire community.
Newville says she plans to honor the current capped enrollment plan. And, she says she's pleased with how the new Pleasantview school turned out.
Lisa Braun has been on the school board for 16 years and has had three kids go through the district.
She says now that the new Pleasantview has been built, the district's strategic plan is a top priority.
A strategic plan that we'll be using going forward that will help us guide all of our decisions we'll be making as a board and with input from staff and the administration. And then we also have what's called A Portrait of a Graduate which are the attributes that we are hoping to instill in all of our students by the time they graduate.
Braun says, as the district continues to struggle with budget deficits, they need to look at increasing enrollment, but with caps in place, they'll need to do that by bringing more families into Sauk Rapids and Rice.
Robyn Holthaus is finishing her 20th year on the board. She is a lifelong resident of Sauk Rapids and had three children graduate from Sauk Rapids-Rice.
She says after dealing with several years of budget deficits, the board has had to live within its means.
We opened up some of our grade levels at different schools to bring in additional students to help those budget deficits, but we're going to live within our means. We made a commitment on what our class sizes were going to be and what our building capacities are, so those are the limits we're living within.
Holthaus says she's proud of the completion of the new Pleasantview elementary and now the district is in good shape with its facilities, although they may need to start looking at a new early childhood center to replace the aging Hillside building.
Dan Johnson is running for a seat on the school board for the first time, however, he says he's been involved in school-related issues since 2017 when there was a referendum to build both a new elementary school and a new football stadium.
He says the revised referendum to build just the new Pleasantview is a symbol of compromise.
He describes a new football field as a want, not a need, for the district and he'd like to see some private donors step forward for that project so it doesn't fall on the taxpayers to fund it.
It's disappointed me that since 2018 there really hasn't been anything organized reaching out to local businesses. Blattner built a field at ROCORI, why aren't we doing the same thing here at Sauk Rapids?
Johnson says, if he's elected, he'll spearhead a fundraising effort for a new stadium.
He says the district's open enrollment policy in the past grew the district to a place it should have never been and he supports the enrollment caps that are in place now.
Johnson has lived in Sauk Rapids since 2006 and has two young kids in the district.
Lisa Loidolt moved to Sauk Rapids six years ago and has two kids in the high school this year.
She is finishing up her first term on the board. She says much of her first term was dealing with COVID-related issues, and she's anxious to fully restart the Portrait of a Graduate program.
When Sauk Rapids students graduate from here, what does it look like? What are the attributes they are going to have? We looked at some of their soft skills and their academics, things you can actually have data on. We also included businesses in the area, what are they looking for as employees coming into the workforce?
Loidolt says she also wants to prioritize getting students caught up from distance learning and mental health issues for students in the district.
She says working with the two cities to create more single-family homes to help bring in more families that want to live in the school district is another priority.
Warren Christie was a teacher for 30 years and has been retired for three years now. He says he'd like to see more focus on vocational and technical classes in the district.
I taught carpentry at the high school level and with all of the news of students going through college and having huge debt, I think we can put more focus on the vocational and technical side.
Christie says the district's budget will continue to be a pressing issue. He says he'd like to work with the state legislature to get more funding for school districts. He says the enrollment caps that are in place now were the proper thing to do.
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