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Tracy Brunnette: Help kids find their passion in life

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Tracy Brunnette

Age: 45

Residence: Cottage Grove

Family: Two sons

Occupation: Works for American Family Insurance

Why she's running: "I am passionate about education. It's the best investment we can make for our future."

Tracy Brunnette, running for her third term on the District 833 School Board, said the school board will have to decide soon on how to spend about $5 million left over from the 2006 construction referendum. Before deciding, she wants to make sure all of the construction is finished.

"I'd be nervous to allocate it before I know that for sure," she said. "Paying it back in reduced taxes would be wonderful."

If budget cuts need to be made, she would gather input from the administration, staff members and the public.

There are challenges ahead, she said, because the state is facing another deficit.

The district has been financially conservative so it can weather the funding shifts it has experienced, Brunnette said.

"We need to evaluate and prioritize. None of us want to increase class sizes or lay off teachers," she said. "To be honest, all cuts affect the classroom in some way."

If there are cuts needed, all programs should be looked at, she said, and theater arts and music are as important for students as academics.

Brunnette said her son, Ben, struggled with school in general in junior high, she said.

But he got active in theater productions and choir and "blossomed," she said, and graduated from Park High School with high honors.

"I truly believe that if students are given the opportunity to discover their passions and succeed, that their confidence will carry over into all other areas of their education and their lives," she said.

Brunnette favors letting student transfer to a high school other than the one they are assigned to take advantage of another academic program.

"It's one of the reasons we have these programs," she said.

When asked how she would solve "perceived inequities" in schools, Brunnette said the board has tried to make facilities at the three high schools equal.

The district has done facility studies that led to decisions on what to upgrade and change, she said.

"I don't know if it's inequities, but we were behind in our technology. It was old," Brunnette said.

To remedy that, the board asked for $1 million per year for technology in 2006.

"We've done a lot with that, but we could take another look," she said.

The district has a total of 3.2 million square feet of space. "That's tough to keep up with but we do our best," she said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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