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Candidate profile: Mike Thissen

Mike Thissen

Age: 43

City: Woodbury

Family: Wife, Tricia; sons, 12, 11 and 9, daughter, 5

Education: Bachelor’s degree in biology from St. Cloud State University

Occupation: Environmental health specialist, city of Bloomington

Mike Thissen wants to be a voice for parents and teachers on the District 833 School Board.

“My interest is in providing students with the best education possible while remaining fiscally responsible,” he said. “To me, that starts in the classroom and it is my goal to be sure that taxpayer money is used wisely to give our teachers what they need to best educate all kids.”

He admits his experience may not be as robust as other candidates, and he’s not ashamed of the fact.

“You just need someone who’s got good ideas, is a good listener and has common sense,” he said.

Thissen’s chief concerns heading into the Nov. 5 election involve the new kindergarten building at Liberty Ridge Elementary, Spanish immersion, the district’s budget matrix and Park High School’s  International Baccalaureate program.

Thissen argues that the 2012 Liberty Ridge expansion did not need to happen, “when I know there was space in surrounding schools” for students.

Spanish immersion has divided special interest groups in the community and been rolled out with “not a lot of foresight,” he said.

“That has really fractured a lot of the community,” Thissen said.

He called the district’s budget matrix “convoluted and confusing,” saying it didn’t address class sizes well enough and led to longer walks to school for students.

Thissen said he wants to support south Washington County schools, but argues the district didn’t do enough to earn his support of the upcoming three-part referendum.

“I’m personally against it, especially if we’re asking for all the money, but we don’t know how it’s going to be spent,” he said.

On the district’s expanded use of iPad and tablet technology, Thissen said he understands the increased need for technology in schools, but said it shouldn’t be a substitute for traditional teaching methods.

“I’m still for the old school ways of teaching,” he said.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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