‘In the best interest of the students’: Dan Fosse

For six-and-a-half years, Dan Fosse has served the Cambridge-Isanti School Board in many facets.

being appointed in May 2004, and successfully running for election in
November 2004 and 2006, Fosse did not take his school board service

Rachel Kytonen
[email protected]

For six-and-a-half years, Dan Fosse has served the Cambridge-Isanti School Board in many facets.

After being appointed in May 2004, and successfully running for election in November 2004 and 2006, Fosse did not take his school board service lightly.

Having six children in the district, and being an ‘81 graduate himself, Fosse knew he had to make decisions in the best interest of the students—and that’s what he feels he always did.

Fosse, who decided to not run for re-election this past November, attended his final school board meeting in December.

“Yes, it was a difficult decision to make,” Fosse said regarding his decision. “I enjoyed serving on the school board, and believe I’ve been effective  in helping change some of the things that needed to change, but change is hard. My style is—if I’m going to be a part of something—I’m going to give it everything I can. I was very involved in the school board.”

Looking back at 2009, Fosse said he attended 180 meeting as a school board representative.

“The decision to not file for re-election was not based on not wanting to do it, but based on the amount of time required for the position,” Fosse said. “It’s time to focus again on my family and personal life, and my business. I felt I had largely completed some of the bigger tasks set forth by the board.”

A big part of Fosse’s role on the school board was serving as lead negotiator for the union negotiation contracts. Fosse would regularly provide contract negotiation updates, and spent many long hours in negotiation meetings.

“My work was always focused on doing the right thing for the students and for their education,” Fosse said. “We only get one chance to get it right, and when the students come through we have got to do our very best. They need to be prepared when they leave here, and go out into the real world. I came on this board knowing I needed to work hard, and that is what I did. I became involved in every area of the board so I could learn everything I could about the district.”

Serving on the school board fit Fosse’s personal character as well.

“I am curious by nature and enjoyed learning about the educational system and how it works,” Fosse said. “I’m also a problem-solver, and like to get an understanding of things, and then try to address the challenges and problems with it.”

Fosse feels he had a good relationship with current Superintendent Bruce Novak, as well as the school board.

“I worked hard to do the right thing even when that was really hard,” Fosse said. “Superintendent Novak was also always willing to do difficult things because he knows it’s the right thing to do. It has been a pleasure working with him.

“My repoire with the board members was also really good. Sometimes as a board we wouldn’t agree, but once the board voted on a decision, and that was the decision, we would support it. I think the current board members were always focused on what we could do to improve opportunities for our students’ education,” he added.

Even though board members disagreed at times, Fosse said it always maintained its focus.

“We never had a disagreement that caused the board to feel divided, or feel we lost our focus,” Fosse said. “We worked hard to put the board’s goals in place, and I believe we always stayed focused on those goals. I have great respect for all my colleagues, and it has been a privilege serving with them.”

Another large part of Fosse’s time on the board was spent on the long range facilities committee.

Fosse was an intricate part of the task force that built the Isanti Intermediate and Cambridge Middle schools. Fosse explained even though the bids for building the schools came in $3 million higher than what the district bonded for, the task force was able to get the costs of the schools back on budget without compromising or sacrificing quality.

Another highlight for Fosse was the renovation of the pool at the high school, getting it up to code and needed specifications.

Fosse was also a part of the long range facilities committee that worked on the alternative facilities bond that led to improved energy efficiency in all the school buildings, and has led to significant cost savings for the district.

 In 2008, the committee held several community focus meetings that allowed for community-based planning input for the future of the district, and around 30 community members actively participated in the meetings.

An extensive report was given to the school board in June 2008 that outlined 10 recommendations: reduction of class sizes and staff to student ratios; increase efficiencies in transportation; adding second language programs at elementary schools; provide online, virtual learning; further utilization and marketing of facilities; additional hi-tech and vocational ed opportunities; implementation of alternative energy technology; co-op and outsourcing of services; consider land purchase for future facilities; and developing a specialized tech or vocational educational facility.

Fosse also did a lot of work in finance, negotiations and served as school board treasurer.

“I feel these were some of the areas where I was able to provide leadership for the district, while continuing to be vigilant with the entire budget process and all the different pieces that fit in there,” Fosse said. “I believe public education is a good thing, when done well, but always can be improved.”

As far as advice for the incoming board members, Fosse said, “Be thoughtful and spend time understanding the big picture before making a decision. Most of the board decisions come before the board because they are important, and they need to be weighed and carefully acted on.”

Even though Fosse is finished serving on the school board, with two children still in high school, he plans on staying involved. He’ll also continue to serve on the Dollars for Scholars Board, and will assume its treasurer role in January.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my board work, my colleagues, and learning how the public education system works,” Fosse said. “There are a lot of reasons to be hopeful about Cambridge-Isanti Schools, and it’s a good place for kids to be. It has been a very good experience, and it has been a privilege to serve.”