Demand Change for Our District


Vote Stacy Rider on November 3rd for

School Board in the Robbinsdale ISD #281

 

Labor Endorsed by SEIU Local 284
Officially Supported by DFL SD45

Stacy Rider is a pro-public education advocate running for School Board because she knows that the School Board leadership that got us here isn’t the leadership that will deliver the change our District desperately needs to restore our financial health and engage in effective oversight of the administration.

Watch Stacy’s Campaign Message  

Restore the financial health of our district through effective oversight

Implement State Auditor Recommendations

More than 2,800 district residents signed a petition, asking the Office of the State Auditor to look at several problems with district management’s handling of finances, human resources, and state statute violations following a perceived failure of the current school board to provide substantive oversight of district spending. It is imperative that the school board implement the recommendations outlined in the report provided by the OSA, but current school board members largely shrugged off the OSA’s recommendations and claimed that there were no irregularities discovered. This is categorically false, and the report included a number of instances that may have violated state law. Furthermore, current board members publicly complained about the expense of the audit and charged the community members who signed the petition with racist motivations. This is both untrue and in contempt of the fiduciary responsibility of the school board members. Read the report here: https://www.auditor.state.mn.us/reports/aud/2019/financialStatements/isd281-robbinsdaleareaschoolspe_19_report.pdf

Avoid Statutory Operating Debt

Without a searching and sincere review and realignment of the District’s expense drivers, ISD #281 is in significant danger of falling into ”Statutory Operating Debt” in the 2020-2021 school year. Minnesota Statutes 123B.81, subdivision 2, states, “If the amount of the operating debt is more than 2-1/2 percent of the most recent fiscal year’s expenditure amount for the funds considered under subdivision 1, the net negative undesignated fund balance is defined as ‘statutory operating debt’….” If a school district were to enter into statutory operating debt, the school district becomes subject to budget restrictions and, if the budget restrictions are not followed, a school district risks losing state aid. Read the statute here: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/123B.81

Restore accountability, fiscal responsibility, transparency, collaboration with the public, and Superintendent supervision to the School Board

The Board accepted the former Superintendent’s deficit budget for 4 of the past 5 years without demanding fiscal accountability. It ignored repeated violations of Board policies regarding contracts and large expenditures, and has allowed more and more money to be spent on administration instead of in classrooms.  The District inefficiently manages District property, and its long-term debt is so big as to likely never be paid off as its bond rating has dropped twice, making borrowing more expensive. The Board also needs to store its relationship with Financial Advisory Council members, who are charged with advising the Board on financial matters but are not given the information or support to do their jobs.

Select our new Superintendent & key administrators

Hire and hold accountable a fiscally responsible, collaborative Superintendent

Former Superintendent Carlton Jenkins, Ph.D., resigned in July 2020, and Stephanie Burrage, Ph.D., was appointed as the Interim Superintendent. The school board has indicated they will hold the search for a new Superintendent until the completion of the election and the seating of the new board members. It is imperative that the district select a fiscally savvy Superintendent to restore the financial health of our district, and an open, honest, and collaborative Superintendent who can rebuild trust with the community. The current board members running for re-election participated in the search and selection of Dr. Jenkins, as well as the oversight of his tenure that resulted in the audit petition.  

Update the Unified District Vision

The school board adopted the Unified District Vision (UDV) in 2014. The UDV states, “The Superintendent is charged to develop a plan with measurable accountability standards and procedures that can be reported transparently to the public.” However, the metrics that the board promised transparency for cannot be located on the District’s website. Reportedly, progress had been shown under Dr. Jenkin’s tenure in certain areas, while others remained flat or declined. With the introduction of a new Superintendent, the UDV will require updating to help reflect the challenges and the changes the last 6 years have brought to the district. In addition, the board must link the year-over-year UDV metrics to the website to provide the transparency originally promised. Read the Unified District Vision here: https://www.rdale.org/discover/unified-district-vision

Protect the physical and mental wellbeing of students, teachers & staff

Manage COVID-19 Impacts

The global pandemic has exposed a number of weaknesses in student equity within our district. Many students struggled with technology malfunction and lack of Internet access as they were required to transition from in-person to distance learning. In addition, many students lacked mental health and disability assistance due to the lack of a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. The Interim Superintendent recommended, and the school board adopted on August 10, 2020, the proposal to begin the 2020-2021 school year with a model termed “Distance Learning PLUS”, which provides for more support services for students that require specialized services. The school board must continue to monitor the COVID crisis carefully and follow the guidelines of the MN Department of Education and the MN Department of Health to reinstate any form of in-person learning. The requirements for reopening safely may well tax an already tenuous 2020-21 budget. Read about the Distance Learning PLUS decision here: https://www.rdale.org/discover/news/article/~board/district-news/post/2020-2021-school-year-update-81020

Read the MN Department of Health COVID guidelines for schools here: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/schools/

Realign School Start Times

A large body of research has shown a strong correlation between later school start times and improved learning outcomes for adolescents, promoting greater equity between racially and socio-economically diverse student populations. According to the research, physical and mental health is also significantly impacted. A number of community engagement sessions have occurred in our district over the past several years to align elementary, middle school and high school start times to best benefit our students. Though the sessions have taken place, there has not been action or follow up with participants, stakeholders, or the broader community. The simplest suggestion is to exchange the high school and elementary school start times so elementary school children start at 7:40 AM and high schoolers start at 9:10 AM, requiring minimal disruption to bussing or teacher’s union contracts. In addition, parents of elementary-aged students may save significantly in the cost of before school care. Read more about the impact of school start times (with numerous studies cited including the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics) here: https://www.everydayhealth.com/kids-health/delaying-school-start-times-improves-students-performance-health/

Ensure School Safety

In 2019 there were a number of unsettling events that occurred in our district. Incidents included a student bringing a firearm to school, as well as students fighting with staff and each other. These incidents exposed infrastructure deficiencies to appropriately alert and protect our students, teachers and staff, which were followed with conflicting reports about the timing and duration of these deficiencies. Parent concerns were left unaddressed following vague communications regarding both incidents, and the Superintendent failed to provide adequate communication on the outcome of the investigations. We need to reassess our district policies and practices, including engagement of teachers and staff to monitor our physical spaces to ensure a safe learning environment for our students. Read about the firearm incident here: https://kstp.com/news/non-armstrong-student-taken-into-custody-after-gun-found-in-backpack-high-school-says/5536883/

Read about the staff and student altercation here: https://www.kare11.com/article/news/local/armstrong-high-school-investigating-physical-altercation-between-student-and-staff-member/89-42ed2cd6-9c9f-4735-8c76-9e4d7fe574ec

Advance equity for students in the district

Systemic racism is completely counter to our District’s equity policy adopted in 2018: https://www.rdale.org/discover/equity-policy

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. There are a number of factors that contribute to systemic racism in our schools, and until we dig in and identify the root causes, we will continue to struggle to create an educational system that works for all our students. Specific actions I would take as a school board member to pay more than lip service to our equity policy include:

 

  1. Bring together focus groups of students at all levels of education to understand their experiences with educators and staff, what they perceive as barriers to success, as well as what opportunities they feel would benefit them both in the classroom and in extracurricular activities (and also do the same with educators and staff) – this is an ongoing activity, with a age-appropriate survey going to the entire population in the spring of every year
  2. Assemble a BIPOC student committee to advise the board monthly on student life
  3. Implement mandatory empathy and unconscious bias training for students, educators, and staff, especially our resource officers – I’d also like to see the District implement a cultural awareness training to promote cultural sensitivity and participate in a culture fair that is open to the community (post-COVID)
  4. Redesign our district’s discipline policy, which appears to be applied disproportionately to students of color, and then relentless track the metrics down to the individual teach/student level to ensure students of color are no longer overrepresented
  5. Review our transportation policies to ensure that middle school and high school students are able to participate in after school activities (especially for open enrolled students)
  6. Review our technology requirements to allow students to fully participate in learning events (for instance, we learned last spring that there are many families that do not have internet) – just like we issue chrome books, we should also be able to issue graphing calculators, noise cancelling headsets, and WiFi hotspots (we may be able to accomplish the same outcome with an internet service provider like Comcast that offers community WiFi)
  7. Reestablish the alternative school (A-school) to keep our graduation rates high, and meet the needs of students who are not succeeding in the traditional classroom environment
  8. Re-examine our curricula top to bottom, looking specifically to root out whitewashing of historical events and inclusion of multicultural overtones, down to the language used in word problems, representation makes a difference
  9. Explore more self-study, distance learning curriculum options, so students who may need to help support their family by working or with child care of younger siblings can have alternative learning options that they can complete outside of a classroom setting
  10. Offer more vocational and technical classes to help prepare students who may not be college bound find quality jobs after graduation and bring in BiPOC speakers in those industries to talk about the opportunities post-graduation
  11. Flip-flop our elementary and high school start times – studies show that for every extra 30 minutes of sleep high schoolers get at night, their grades are positively impacted, and the benefits fall disproportionately to students of color
  12. Update the District’s equity policy to include SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals that are tracked and published out to the community and hold the new superintendent and their administration accountable to their performance against those goals

     

    These are a few places to start, and after speaking with educators and staff members, I learned some of these ideas have been discussed before, but not implemented, while others are in the early stages of development. Once I’m on the board and we’ve begun to get feedback from our stakeholder groups and am able to work with our Diversity and Inclusion Specialists, I’m sure many more opportunities to improve student equity will be uncovered.

About Stacy:

I’m the parent of 2 Robbinsdale ISD 281 students - my oldest son graduated high school this year and my youngest is now a Junior at Armstrong
  • Our journey took us through a non-traditional path: Pre-K Special Education, Spanish Immersion, Plymouth Middle School and Armstrong High School
  • We’ve been residents of the district since 2004 and live in Golden Valley
  • My husband and I have a strong track record of volunteerism and classroom assistance, I stuffed Thursday envelopes throughout elementary, we covered almost every classroom party, volunteered for Chess Club and set up for conference night book fairs and Fiesta Fun Fair at RSI
  • I am currently a VP on the Executive Committee for the Armstrong Choir Boosters, and my husband coached house basketball for 6 years (I was team mom, of course!)
I’ve built a business career over the past 25 years as a marketing and information technology professional, and I’ve also been an educator
  • Education is very important to me, and I received my Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Carlson School of Management, UMN, where I also received my undergraduate degree in Business Management and Marketing
  • I’m a lifelong learner and have pursued several professional certifications
  • I’m a former Executive Education developer-in-residence for the Carlson School of Management and former educator for the Minnesota School of Business 
  • I’m entrepreneurial and a small business owner
  • I’ve worked as a consultant with several Fortune 500 companies
  • I believe that my business acumen will compliment the skills of our other board member

 

I have extensive board and volunteer experience, and I will be an effective school board member on Day 1
  • Board President and Founder, Ventures Plus – University of MN, Carlson School of Business
  • Vice-President, Executive Committee – Armstrong Choir Boosters
  • Vice-President, Executive Committee – Performing Institute of Minnesota Boosters
  • Communications and Event Organizer – Women’s March Minnesota
  • Secretary, Board of Directors – Twin Cities Youth Chorale
  • Member, Marketing Leadership Forum – Forrester Research
  • Marketing Committee Leader, Board of Directors – Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association
  • Member, Board of Directors – Minnesota Entrepreneur’s Association
  • Chair, United Way Committee – G&K Services
  • Communication Committee Director, Finance Committee Member – Unity of Minneapolis
  • Chair and Founder, Employee Engagement Committee – The Paper Magic Group

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