Anne Maple

Candidate for School Board

mapleI am running for Northfield School Board because I have a great passion for education in general, and a specific desire to help Northfield schools succeed in providing the best possible education for our children. This will not be an easy task, for Minnesota faces shrinking budgets, changing demographics, and increasingly high expectations for teaching and learning.

I have a long history of professional involvement in education in a wide variety of capacities. My professional experience includes nearly 25 years of teaching in public schools in Minnesota and Wisconsin, along with private, independent schools in Texas and Minnesota. I have taught English at the middle and high school levels, and English as a Second Language in community education abroad. I am also a mother of two children. My son is a 2007 graduate of Northfield High School and my daughter is a freshman at the high school.

Since moving to Northfield in 1990, I have had the opportunity to volunteer in every school building, to serve on several committees and task forces, and to co-chair the 2006 Northfield Levy Referenda Campaign for Citizens for Quality Education. I have worked side by side with Northfield parents, teachers, administrators, community leaders and students to strive for the best possible opportunities for learning. What I find most rewarding in this work is the communication networks I have developed with you, the community members, about education issues. This is what makes me a strong candidate for serving on the school board. I know the schools, I am tuned into the issues schools face today, and I am ready to work to make the Northfield Schools the best they can be.  

Over the past several years I have looked beyond our district’s borders, and I have studied the challenges of funding schools, fulfilling educational plans for special needs students, and helping teachers stay up-to-date in their fields. And we must do all of this and more while we maintain school buildings, provide safe busing for the children and purchase appropriate technology to send our students out in the world equipped to handle a fast-paced future.  

Education is a part of me. I will bring my energy and enthusiasm to the job of Northfield School Board Member.

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Responses to questions submitted by participants:

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

My answer assumes that the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has no revisions made to it.

When a school does not make  “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP) according to the benchmarks that are in place, a district must identify and act upon the variables that have contributed to the students’ lack of success and make improvement or face severe consequences.  For instance, the new “Push-In” program has been instituted in the Northfield Schools to revitalize our current ESL program. Our district saw that English Language Learners needed more support and acted accordingly by hiring two new ESL teachers and by training some classroom teachers in current ESL best practices to strengthen the academic language fluency of our English Language Learners. This is the appropriate action for the immediate term. As a Northfield School Board member, I will continue studying the issues all schools face with NCLB that are exacerbated by under-funded mandates and one-size-fits-all benchmarks. Clearly, without major restructuring of NCLB and equitable and proper funding, all schools will be struggling to make AYP.

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 think the only way to approach making cuts is to have a transparent and public system that involves the whole community as the district did in 2004 and 2005. At that time multiple task forces comprised of a variety of citizens and school personnel looked at the school district budget and made recommendations for budget reductions to the Northfield School Board. In this process, all mandated requirements were identified and listed so citizens understood what could not be cut. Then the difficult task of identifying and ranking areas in the budget that were not mandated was completed. Included in this process there were public hearings announcing proposed cuts. The schools serve the public needs, and the general population must understand how many dollars must be cut and have a say as to where that will happen.

For gaining additional revenue, our best hope is Minnesota House File 4178 (more commonly known as “The New Minnesota Miracle.”) This bill proposal lays out a more equitable way to disperse education dollars across the state. If the funding formula for schools is not revised, and education mandates continue to be under-funded, I see no choice but for Northfield to seek more levy dollars from the community or face much more severe cuts.

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

Our greatest resource is our people. We have top-notch teachers, administrators and support personnel, including, of course, those who contribute their time and talents to Community Education and Benjamin Bus Company. What has amazed me is how dedicated our district’s employees are and what a professional job they have done since the tough budget cuts were made in 2004 and 2005.

We also have an excellent cadre of community volunteers. Every time I sign in to volunteer at a school, I am impressed by how many names there are on the sign-in sheet. These volunteers are not just parents of children in the schools, but individuals from a large cross-section of the community. This dedication to education was apparent when our community supported the 2006 levy referenda – a clear statement that Northfield values its community school system.

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

The relationship between the Northfield School District and the area’s charter schools must reflect the laws that define the roles of the sponsors and their charter schools. I hope to see continued clear communication between the district and both ARTech and Prairie Creek Community School, as all three entities provide Northfield’s students with educational opportunities.

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?

It is difficult to compare a private institution’s meal plan with a subsidized and government regulated food plan; it is like comparing apples to oranges.

I believe the food service is an essential part of Northfield Schools and provides meals that are a great value for the price.  For some children, the school lunch is the most nutritious and important meal of the day. Recently, a citizen task force worked with the director of the food service to find ways to offer more fresh foods while staying within a tight budget. Continued efforts in this area will help give Northfield’s students healthy food choices while keeping the school breakfasts and lunches affordable.