The Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce (DCR) hosted a school board candidate forum for the West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan School District on Tuesday. There are four candidates for three seats.
- John Chandler
- Dewayne Dill (incumbent)
- Matthew Klein
- Stephanie Levine
The DCR hosted the forum at Mendota Heights City Hall. Candidates had one minute to answer questions. One of the earliest questions asked them to name their top three priorities.
Klein said that his top priority is parental and community engagement. He had previously discussed his experience in increasing parent engagement at the middle school his children attended in the district.
His second top priority is increasing student achievement and addressing the achievement gap.
“Our test scores in this district are not what they are in comparable districts around the metro area,” Klein said.
It is a top priority, he added. He also noted that the district has developed strategies to address student achievement.
Klein's third top priority is integrating technology into the schools.
Levine said her top priority is the overall achievement of students. She agreed with Klein that the district is underperforming and also that strategies are in place to bring about change.
“We really are poised to realize our potential in terms of the achievement of our students,” Levine said.
She added that a personalized learning program would allow students to achieve at a pace that is best for them.
Levine referred to her experience in the PTA and in helping the 2011 levy referendum pass as she mentioned her second priority: building a relationship with the community.
Her third priority is financial stability.
Chandler drew from his experience at Dodge Nature Center and the center’s work with the school district to discuss the first of his top three priorities.
One of his priorities, he said, is “more community involvement,” which includes involvement from businesses to help students prepare for life beyond high school.
Chandler’s second priority is to increase student enrollment in the district: “It’s appalling to always hear the stories of our neighbors kids going out of district or to other schools,” he said.
It is important the district retains its students, he added.
Thirdly, he said that in terms of student achievement, he would like to see a focus on early learning programs.
“I want all of our children to start school on a more level playing field so that they have a better chance for success as they advance year to year,” Chandler said.
Dill said that his highest priority is the “unseen systems.” While the district has great teachers and resources, the district is underperforming, he said. Part of the reason for that, Dill said, is that the district needs to do a better job of following process.
His next priority, which he said builds on the first one, is to stabilize finances. He would like to see more focus in the area so that the district does not add programs and then take them away.His first two priorities leads to his third priority, Dill said, which he named as “the achievement gap and just being a higher performing district for all our students.”
Mendota Heights residents can watch the forum on Town Square Television.