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Four to face off in District 834 School Board race

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Three incumbents and one challenger will find their names on the ballot Nov. 6 in the District 834 School Board race.

The candidates for the District 834 School Board race are incumbents Kathy Buchholz, George Dierberger and Mike Ptacek and challenger Amy Burback.

The incumbents

Buchholz, who lives in Afton, is currently serving her seventh year on District 834 School Board.

She said she decided to file for re-election because she wanted to see through many of the initiatives the school district started during her tenure on the board.

"We are at another exciting turning point for the school district," she said.

Specifically, Buchholz said she wants to continue work on the district's strategic plan and the implementation of a new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum.

"I want to follow through and see those things through," she said.

Additionally, Buchholz said she would like to be involved in the discussions regarding the district's current levy, which will expire next fall.

Dierberger, who lives in Stillwater, is currently serving his first term on District 834 School Board.

He said he decided to file for re-election because he too wants to be able to see through many of the district's initiatives.

"We're not quite finished with what we want to get accomplished," he said.

Dierberger said he would like to continue work on the strategic plan as well as see the implementation of the STEM program.

"I'm excited to see that take root and expand over the next four years and become part of our culture and expectations," he said.

Additionally, Dierberger said he wants to help see the district through its next referendum, since the current levy expires next fall.

"It would be disingenuous not to stay and fight that battle," he said. "The job's not quite finished."

Ptacek, who lives in Stillwater, is also serving his first term on the District 834 School Board.

He said he would like to continue his work in education.

"Most of my life I've been involved with education in one way or another," he said. "All of those things gave me an exposure to a lot of school districts and a lot of different programs and I would like to continue sharing that experience and exposure.

"I think we had some awfully nice successes."

Ptacek said he is eager to see the implementation of the STEM program and help the district through its upcoming levy discussions.

He said he feels he has made a positive impact with the District 834 School Board and has learned a lot since his election in 2008.

"What I want to believe is that I'm smarter, I'm more experienced," he said, "and I have something to offer to the district."

The challenger

Burback, who lives in Stillwater, said she decided to run for School Board because she was displeased with the process that unfolded earlier this year in relation to the district's referendum and budget discussions.

"I felt we needed something refreshing on the school board," she said. "Maybe a better balance to the voices. I really felt called to step up."

Earlier this year District 834 had a referendum seeking a new levy, which failed and resulted in a significant budget adjustment process.

"It seems like the current board, they have a plan and an agenda and that's not always up front in the discussions," she said. "That's not the right way to communicate to the community."

Specifically, Burback said she was frustrated with the budget discussions related to Stonebridge Elementary, where her son is a student.

The proposed budget adjustment called for a restructuring of Stonebridge Elementary's classroom model.

Burback said she felt District 834 School Board wasn't being up-front and honest about the discussions.

"People have to be honest why decisions are being made - you can't be afraid of negative reaction," she said. "I just don't think that happened in this last cycle.

"You can't delay the truth of a decision and all the factors that go into it."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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