Meet the candidates running for Braham Area School Board

Voters in the Braham Area School District will head to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 5, for the purpose of electing three school board members to four-year terms. The polling time for this election will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Braham Area High School. Any eligible voter residing in District 314 may vote at said election. A voter must be registered to be eligible to vote. An unregistered voter may register to vote at the polling place on Election Day with proper identification. For absentee voting information call 320-396-5199.

Steve Eklund (Incumbent)

Please introduce yourself. Provide background and qualifications and explain why you are seeking the office of Braham Area School Board Member.

I have lived in the Rush Point area with my wife Pam for over 30 years. We have three children who all graduated from Braham High School. I am now fortunate to have two of our grandchildren in kindergarten at Braham Elementary.

Steve Eklund

Steve Eklund

I have always been a listener. People talk to me at concerts, plays, games and call my home. Every decision made takes into account all this information. At the end of the day, I try to live by the principle, “Is this in the best interest of kids?” The Braham Schools are a source of pride for our community and a tie that binds us together.

• Graduated from Braham High School and the University of Minnesota

• Hopkins School District – teacher and coach

• ECMECC- chairman

• Dollar for Scholars

• Cambridge Medical Center Board of Trustees

• Minnesota School Board Association- delegate  assembly

• Minnesota State High School League- Board of directors

In what specific areas do you feel the district should dedicate more funding?   

We need to be cautious in our use of taxpayer’s hard earned dollars. The community of Braham has historically supported their schools. The good people here know the value of a great education and expect no less from this school district.

We need to work to:

• Keep class sizes as low as possible, giving teachers the opportunity to give attention to each and every student.

• Stay current with technology. The children in Braham need to have the technology available to them that will allow them to be successful in an ever-changing world.

• Develop and maintain programs that challenge all students of all abilities.

• Continue to hire outstanding staff and personnel and offer continuing education opportunities.

• Maintain our school buildings and grounds, so they continue to be a source of pride for our students and community.

What would be your priorities if elected? 

The priorities mirror the areas that I think are important for funding.

Prepare students for all types of post-secondary education: college, vocational school/training, allowing them to become successful, contributing members of society.

Our test scores continue to improve and will continue to do so with our hard-working staff, supportive parents, and conscientious students. As a school board, we need to be sure to provide the tools to these groups to make this happen.

 

Allison Londgren

Please introduce yourself. Provide background and qualifications and explain why you are seeking the office of Braham Area School Board Member.

I have lived in the Braham area for the past 10 years. I am married to my husband Dan, and together we have three children, Carsyn (7), David (5) and Brooke (2).

I have worked as a paralegal for the past 15 years, most recently working for Berry Law Offices, a general practice law firm in Princeton, Minn. I have a passion for family law which stems from wanting to make sure that all children are treated equally and their best interests are represented while their parents are navigating through tough complex custody litigation cases. Our family enjoys camping, four-wheeling, snowmobiling and hunting. We also enjoy spending time on the family farm watching and riding with dad while he is out in the fields.

Allison Londgren

Allison Londgren

I have three young children who are just coming to be school-aged. I want to ensure that the school district is making the right decisions to provide our children with all they will need to succeed in school and as adults. I have great motivation, am a dedicated, dependable worker and have an unwavering commitment to the future of our children. I will bring a fresh perspective to the table.

In what specific areas do you feel the district should dedicate more funding?   

As a rural community, we sometimes do not have the same technology that is available to communities within the Minneapolis and Saint Paul suburbs. In an effort to prevent a further technology gap, and to provide our children similar opportunities, investments need to continue to be made in technology for our schools.

Though the test scores for students in our district have improved, I think it is imperative measures are taken to continue to move this district forward by providing children with all available tools they need.

What would be your priorities if elected? 

The standardized tests scores have continued to improve and I believe it is essential to continue moving forward in an effort to keep improving our standards for the Braham Area Schools so our children are getting the best education possible. I believe we need to listen to our teachers, faculty, parents and children and work together to build this school and community.

I believe we must provide students with the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities, including sports, music and art. Our children need variety available to them, as they learn both in and out of the school classroom. We are aiding these children and steering them into the rest of their lives and they deserve everything we can offer them.

 

Mike Thompson

Please introduce yourself. Provide background and qualifications and explain why you are seeking the office of Braham Area School Board Member.

My name is Mike Thompson. My wife Deborah and I have lived in the city of Braham for 20 years. In 1993, we built our home in Braham and have been residents ever since. Both Deborah and I recently retired from our respective jobs. Deborah retired after 34 years of teaching, including 27 years at Braham Area High School. I recently completed an assignment at Braham Area High School and am now retired.

My educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Cloud State with majors in history and political science. In addition, I have a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from Hamline University. I have completed additional graduate work at Bemidji State and the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

Mike Thompson

Mike Thompson

Following my retirement as a Project Manager with Jacques Whitford/EcoCheck Engineering in late 2009, I accepted a part time assignment at the Braham Area Schools to help facilitate a School Improvement Grant (SIG). I have had previous experience with grant writing/administration. The SIG was a 39-month project to improve programs and curriculum for students, improve school culture, and upgrade technology at Braham Area High School. In my role as Turnaround Officer, I acted as a liaison between the high school and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) during the course of the SIG. I maintained a data file on all programs, helped to facilitate those programs, and completed financial and narrative reports for MDE. The SIG was completed Sept. 30, 2013.

I believe my educational background and my previous job experience as a Project Manager and grant writer/administrator will provide me with the skills necessary to be a good school board member. I have experience in budgeting, managing large projects and negotiating contracts. I understand the complexity of the job and have the time available to address the needs of the job.

In what specific areas do you feel the district should dedicate more funding?  

The Braham School district manages a large, but tight budget. If more funding were available, I would dedicate that funding to a number of areas. I would increase the number of in-house classes for college credit at the high school. It is possible that additional staff may be necessary for this to happen. With the high cost of college, in-house classes for college credit would permit high school students to save money on a post-secondary education.

At the elementary level, I would use funds to provide for a full time Social Worker. At the present time, a Social Worker is shared between the high school and the elementary school. I believe a Social Worker is absolutely necessary for the development of struggling young students. Counseling students through problems at an early age will help students achieve throughout high school and beyond.

In addition, if funds were available, I would use those funds to provide tablet devices such as iPads to all elementary students. Tablet devices are an important learning tool for students, allowing students to learn by sight. Tablet devices are a great option for differentiated learning in the classroom.

I would also dedicate more funding to improving the physical plant, again if that funding were available. Generally, our two school buildings are in good condition. But, large buildings need constant maintenance and improvement. The school district has been replacing roofs and upgrading security at both buildings. Energy-saving improvements to lighting and heating/ventilation have also been made. However, bathrooms need upgrading, and flooring needs to be replaced. Above all, I do not want the elementary and high school buildings to deteriorate to a “must replace” point. The tax base is limited in the Bra ham area, and replacement of school buildings is cost-prohibitive.

What would be your priorities if elected? 

My first priority would be to make sure all students within the Braham School District are offered the best education possible. Though I would encourage high school students to move on to college, I don’t believe that all students should go to college. I do believe all students must develop a marketable skill in order to be successful and to be productive citizens. A solid education at both the elementary and high school levels will help to develop that skill.

Secondly, I want all students to feel safe in both the elementary and high school buildings. The school district is improving the security systems of both buildings in order to improve safety. I want to see that effort continued so that all students are safe in our schools.

Thirdly, I want the school district to remain on a solid financial footing. The school district is not only an educational institution, but also a major business entity in the community. Our schools are one of the largest employers in town, providing jobs for teaching, paraprofessional/secretarial, custodial, food service, and administrative staff. Manipulation of state aid in recent years has made budgeting difficult for schools, causing budget cuts that eliminate programs and reduce choices for students. Above all, I want to make sure that our district stays financially healthy.

Finally, I want to make sure that we constantly maintain and improve the buildings and grounds of our school facilities. Well-maintained facilities and grounds will make our schools attractive to parents, students, community members, and visitors. Our schools are the focal point of our community. We should be proud of the schools that serve our students. Keeping our schools well-maintained and improved will help the buildings last long into the future.

 

Stephanie White

Please introduce yourself. Provide background and qualifications and explain why you are seeking the office of Braham Area School Board Member.

I am married to Trevor, who is a Braham native. We have two children, Ben and Addy, who both attend Braham Elementary School. As a family, we moved back to the area five years ago after living in Alaska and Arizona while my husband served in the U.S. Air Force. We chose to move into the Braham School District three years ago when our oldest was starting kindergarten. I work for StudioPlus Software in Cambridge as an administrative assistant. Serving as a school board member is a great opportunity for me to give back and serve our community and the school district. As a parent of young children within the district and as a taxpayer, I have a vested interest in the performance of our school district and the future of our children.

Stephanie White

Stephanie White

In what specific areas do you feel the district should dedicate more funding?   

Building a strong foundation of academics should always be the top priority of the district. I would like to see funding for update to date technology and educational materials. Though I am a big supportive of athletics, I am also a big supporter of the arts and other extracurricular activities. When we provide a wide variety of opportunities to our students, both academically and through extracurricular activities, we are allowing them to excel in the individual way.

What would be your priorities if elected? 

My first priority will always be the students and what is in their best interest. Providing a fun and safe environment for our students to learn and grow should always be a priority for our entire community. To effectively serve our students and the community, becoming more familiar with the operations of the school district would also need to be a priority upon being elected. As a member of the school board, I feel it would be important speak with the community members to learn what their concerns are for the district and where they would like to see improvements made.

 

 

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