School board spot draws contendersWhy would you run for a seat on the Alexandria City Council or the Alexandria School Board?
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
Why would you run for a seat on the Alexandria City Council or the Alexandria School Board?
The Echo Press asked that question to the six candidates running for school board and the six candidates running for city council.
This is the third of four stories containing their answers. It includes comments from the three candidates vying for position 4 on the School District 206 Board – Laura Knudsen, Sara Reemts and Sandy Susag. The incumbent, Judy Florell, didn’t file.
•Laura Knudsen said her motivation for running for school board is driven by the pressures she sees the district facing.
“More than one third of our state’s budget is spent on K-12 education. With an estimated $6 billion state budget deficit, our schools will not be receiving any additional funding. This is happening at a time when our educational system needs to be transformed. With human knowledge growing at exponential rate, we need to prepare our children for a future that we can barely imagine. As a community, we cannot afford to ignore this challenge, and the solution does not lie in funding alone.”
Knudsen said District 206 is facing a major investment in replacing Jefferson High School (JHS) and that she is passionate about making that happen.
“I have worked as a paraprofessional at JHS and have seen the need for a new facility first-hand. Unfortunately, this need comes at a time when state budget cuts to local government aid have transferred tax burdens to our local communities. Community members are feeling over burdened by taxes, making the necessary investments in community infrastructure a hard sell. I am proud to have volunteered on the Woodland Elementary referendum project and believe that with the right plan, our community will choose to invest in a new high school, even during these difficult times.
•Sara Reemts said the reason she is running for school board is quite simply, because she cares.
“I care about the current condition and the future of District 206. I am a strong advocate of quality education. I believe that all members of the “team” – children, parents, teachers, maintenance staff, administrative staff, etc. – should be involved in bringing great ideas to the board so we can be successful at creating amazing students and make our community proud of District 206.”
Reemts, who is a graduate of JHS, said she has a strong financial background that would be a beneficial trait for the school board. She has been employed at Runestone Electrical Association as an accountant for 10 years.
She and her husband have two children – this fall, one will be in 2nd grade and the other will start kindergarten.
“By having young children in the district, I have a different point of view than most of the current members of the board. I am a Junior Achievement volunteer and have been involved in various activities in several schools. We need people, such as myself, who have a vested interest in the schools to be active members of the school board. I consider myself a conservative person and will be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers. I am a strong supporter of continuing education and keeping those who are teaching our children ‘up to date’ on educational trends and changes in curriculum.”
•Sandy Susag said she has a long-standing interest in education, which is why she is running for school board.
“I have devoted more than 20 years to involvement on the board of directors for the Dollars for Scholars board. I have seen this program, with the hard work of several community leaders, grow from a disbursement rate of $1,200 to five or six students to almost $92,000 for 135 young people. I have participated in the district’s mentorship program through Community Education, having mentored the same student for five years.”
Susag is also active on the advisory board for the Medical Secretary Program at Alexandria Technical and Community College. She has also worked closely with counselors and social workers in School District 206 in her employment with the Douglas County Hospital’s mental health unit, which now is under the management of Lakeland Mental Health Center.
“I look at serving on the District 206 School Board as an opportunity to become more educated as an individual taxpayer into the workings of our school system, and to bring my enthusiasm for and dedication to our youth to the current board.”