Ellen Iverson

Candidate for School Board

iversonNever before has our society expected more from our schools. We face serious challenges with the ongoing budgetary constraints and achieving adequate yearly progress on state assessments. As a parent of two children in the district and in my professional work evaluating education programs, I see these concerns. More importantly I see the strengths that the Northfield district brings to face them.

I am running for school board because I believe Northfield schools can succeed in providing quality education where all learners thrive. If elected, I hope to:

• Encourage connections in the community that draw on Northfield's expertise in education at all levels
• Capitalize on our teacher's knowledge and skills through the existing Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
• Look to assessment data as a tool to recognize successful strategies on which to build.

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Responses to questions submitted by Northfield.org participants:

1. How would you address the concerns of schools not making "Adequate Yearly Progress" as identified by the No Child Left Behind Act?

The No Child Left Behind Act in theory sounds good – high standards for learning.  However, in Minnesota we already established high standards (as shown by our cut scores) which make it even more difficult for our schools to continue to reach the high and higher established measures.  That being said, not making “Adequate Yearly Progress” with any subgroup is not a list we want Northfield schools to be on.  I support the district’s steps to analyze the assessment data in order to best provide program solutions to reduce achievement gaps.  As a member of the District Education Program Advisory Council I worked on a survey to help the district understand the needs of the teaching community in using the assessment data.  If elected, I hope to bring the knowledge I’ve gained assessing national education programs to help the district make data-driven decisions that not only provide the support and professional development to address the needs of the subgroups but increase all student learning.

2. Although significant budget cuts have been made in the recent past, further cost cuts or additional income might be necessary. How would you approach such a situation?

I appreciate the conservative approach to spending and stewardship of the existing funds that the current administration has supported.  In particular, I value the open community approach and the use of creative solutions, such as the contingency fund, to address teacher student ratios within a tight budget.  With the state facing a 2-4 billion dollar deficit in the upcoming legislative session, it is not realistic to expect a state funding increase of any significance.  If elected, I’d like to be part of the conversation at the state level to expedite how Minnesota is going to adequately fund our schools today and in the future.  At the local level, I would advocate the community approach of involving educators, staff, parents, and concerned citizens in addressing any cost cuts.

3. What do you see as particular points of pride in the Northfield Schools?

The aspects that make me the most proud include the range of programs (arts, music, academic teams, as well as sports), the educational settings that the district offers, the qualifications of our teaching staff, the overall high achievement of our students (Northfield students scored above national averages at every grade level tested using the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), and the volunteer organization and participation by parents in our educational system.

4. What relationship would you like to see between the district and the two charter schools it sponsors?

One of the strengths of Northfield is the many education options that are offered and supported by the community.  I think that the district should continue its positive relationship with the two charter schools it sponsors.

5. Both colleges in town have made news as leaders in bringing better --and more locally grown -- food to the students' tables. Do you feel that Northfield's public schools are doing a good job of providing our children with healthy and smart food choices?

I appreciate the efforts of District Wellness Committee to ensure healthy options during school hours, such as the salad option offered at all schools.  I think that we can always improve.  If elected I would be open to hearing more about locally grown options.