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Paynesville Press - Oct. 27, 2010

Paynesville School Board
Deb Glenz

Deb Glenz, 51, has served on the school board since 1994 and is running for a fifth term on the board. She is currently vice chair of the board and is past president of Schools for Equity in Education, an association of 58 school districts in Minnesota. She has run a daycare in her home for 23 years. She and her husband Mike have four adult children who graduated from Paynesville.

Why are you running for school board? I have served on the school board for 16 years, and I decided to run again now for the same reasons I ran then. I still believe as strongly as ever that there needs to be people on the board who can remain focused on what's best for our kids in the midst of the business, politics, and policy that we call public education.

Describe your experiences with kids and explain how these will help you make decisions on the board? I have been involved with kids for the greater portion of my life. I have raised four of my own. I was the youth leader for our church for many years. I have volunteered numerous hours with activities at the school: athletics, fundraisers, athletic clubs, and supervision. My occupation is child care, where I work with kids six weeks to 12 years old and their families. I am now caring for the kids of kids I used to take care of. I have served on the school board as the MSBA delegate for several years. As a board member, I am the school district represenative for the SEE organization. As a SEE member, I serve on the executive board and have served as president and now as past president. Both of these organizations keep me aware of state-wide politics and the budgetary side of our public schools.

What accomplishments would you point to as reasons for your re-election? I believe our school district has many accomplishments to be proud of, and as an elected member of our board, I share in all of its successes. We continue to increase a higher level of education accessibility to our students. We are far ahead of many schools in our surroundings in the area of technology. Our district offers a very diverse list of classes for a school our size. We have a remarkable graduation rate and many outstanding musicians, artists, athletes, and scholars. Our kids are truly our greatest accomplishments.

The district has not made Adequate Yearly Progress in three years (and in four of the past seven years). How should the district improve its curriculum and test scores? I believe our staff is and continues to do a great job of maintaining and readjusting the curriculum. Our school, like so many small schools, does very well as a whole but is broken down into various subgroups. The passing percentage of these subgroups is low, as are the numbers. In a district that has been declining for so many years, we continue to grow in two very difficult areas: special education and low-income, free- and- reduced-lunch students. I believe our staff is and will continue to seek out and implement new curriculums and strategies to improve those struggling subgroups. believe this community has and still does support the students in our school district and only wants the best for them. They also expect the best from the staff, administration, and school board and should accept nothing less.

What measures should the board take to deal with declining enrollment? The school district already does a great deal to offset the loss. We share staff, combine with other districts in sports, transportation, counseling, and curriculum coordinators. We also offer many online classes at the high school. I believe everyone on staff is aware that declining enrollment equals declining funds and is always looking for areas to access through alternative means of education.

How important are strong extracurricular programs to our school district? What should the board be doing to encourage and enhance these programs? I believe extracurricular programs are essential to a well-rounded education. I believe the board encourages and enhances these programs by making sure that there are people in place to make sure all extracurricular programs are well run, well organized, and positive experiences for all students.

For the past four years, the district has exceeded its goal for a general fund balance (more than $1 million). What should the district maintain as a healthy fund balance? The board tries to maintain at least a six to eight percent fund balance as was recommended to us by the Minnesota School Board Association.

As district funds allow, where do you see funding needs in the school district? Technology will continue to be an ever-changing need. Curriculum updates and added courses.

The school board approved a $16.5-million renovation and repair project in August that includes a $14 million tax increase. Why did you vote for this project and tax increase? I voted for it because our district needed it. Our students deserve it. Our district has been putting off and Band-Aiding old and failing systems as long as possible. Our facilities and deferred maintenance needs have grown to the point we can simply no longer put them off. Our energy efficiency and air quality deficiencies had to be addressed. I believe the facilities committee did its research and came out with what they believe to be the best plan for our district. As a board and people who also pay taxes in this community, raising taxes as minimally as possible was important to all of us. The tax increase is spread out over 20 years, and the repairs and maintenance have to be done.

A proposal to raise the district's operating levy was rejected by voters in November 2009. Do you support asking voters to increase this tax in November 2011? Why or why not? Yes, I do support asking for the increase. I know that when our current operating levy ends if we don't have it replaced at a higher level, our school district may never recover. I believe we as a board did not do an adequate job of explaining the need or involving the community in the process. Our state is in a deep hole financially, and schools have little or no hope of any increase, more likely a cut. I would have to believe we can come to some sort of agreement with the community to protect our kids' future education in Paynesville.

What is the proper role of the school board in making personnel decisions? Ultimately, the school board is responsible for all personnel decisions.

How much weight should board members give committee recommendations? As board members, we have to rely somewhat on committee recommendations. Along with those recommendations should come all pertinent information, and if we have any questions they should be asked and investigated. No one should ever blindly accept any recommendation. We have to have committees, though, because there is simply too many areas that all need attention at the same time for anyone to do all of them well.

Should school board meetings be televised on the local Channel 8? To be honest, it was attempted before and just never worked out. I don't think it would hurt or help. Very seldom do people come to meetings unless they want something specific, and there are so many people in our district who don't have Channel 8. Board meetings are open to the public and are covered by the Press.

How should the school board - and the school district - encourage and maintain community support for the Paynesville Area Public Schools? I believe this community has always and still does support Paynesville Area Public Schools. Paynesville Area Schools is a locally controlled public school, so if sometimes the answer from the community is "No," so be it. I don't believe that means the community doesn't see the situation the way the school district does. To me, that means we, the district, either has not done an adequate job of explaining the need or hasn't proven that the need exists.

I believe this community has and still does support the students in our school district and only wants the best for them. They also expect the best from the staff, administration, and the school board and should accept nothing less.

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