Q&A with District 834 School Board incumbent Amy Burback
• Age: 45
• City of residence: Stillwater
• Years lived in district: 14
• Education: Bachelor's, Marquette University; master's, Marquette University
• Occupation: Director of marketing and enrollment, University of St. Thomas College of Education, Leadership, and Counseling
• Notable community and civic involvement: Current Stillwater Area Public Schools School Board member; Washington County Master Gardener; congressional intern, Washington
• Contact: amybbburback@amyburback4stillwater
Why are you running for the Stillwater Area School Board?
I have chosen to seek re-election to continue the work, and deliver on the promises of our strategic plan by moving our district forward towards the goals outlined in The Bridge to Excellence. I am committed to continuing to address the past cycles of leadership and financial instability that bring frequent budget cuts through aligning our resources with our strategic priorities; the most important being a focus on student achievement through equitable opportunities and support. During my four years of service, I have developed an informed perspective of the systemic needs and challenges that face the district. I am a collaborative, forthcoming member of the board who is willing to engage in dialogue with a variety of stakeholders who hold diverse opinions. I have demonstrated that I can make tough decisions that ensure all kids in our district will have access to equitable opportunities, programs and highly qualified staff.
What are the biggest issues in District 834 for residents living in Woodbury?
The most critical issues facing the district, and that will have substantial impact on Woodbury residents, are around stability and being able to move forward.
Stability in leadership will allow our district to do the work necessary for accomplishing the goals of our strategic plan, The Bridge to Excellence. We have had three leadership changes during five years, setting us back rather than making progress.
I am committed to retaining our current superintendent, as well as bringing stability to our finances.
If a decision is made not to move forward with the Building Opportunities to Learn and Discover (BOLD) proposal, and the current boundary plan, it leaves in question whether or not the addition to Brookview Elementary could happen. While that decision can only be made after the court decisions are final, it is important to realize that any change in the current direction of the district could impact future building at Brookview, boundaries, and availability of student support services as the district continues to serve students across 10 elementary buildings rather than seven.
How do you plan to address these issues if elected?
I supported the BOLD proposal, and it is my intention to move forward with the plans as they were presented to the board, as we are legally allowed. I firmly believe it is the best way to deliver dollars directly to students in the classroom. It brings relief to years of overcrowding in many of our buildings and classes. It brings the opportunity to balance class sizes and provide for consistency in staffing across all buildings. It supports teachers no matter where they teach with equitable class sizes and responsive learning interventions and student support services. We will be able to support our middle-level learners with additional programing, and support our ninth graders as they transition to the high school. Many of these are at risk if we are faced with another change in leadership, or if our finances are not stable. In my role as a board member, I have been and will continue to hold the administration accountable for delivering the results of these changes.
What distinguishes you from the other candidates?
I am future oriented and student focused, believing that a positive perspective will bring healing to our communities.
I have been invited to and taken an active role in activities with the many students, families and communities who will attend Brookview Elementary when it opens in fall 2017. This is something that many of our buildings felt they would be doing this year as we looked to supporting the many transitions.
I have had conversations with parents and teachers across all communities who are frustrated by the lack of effort to move forward, and are hurt and disheartened by negative perception of their school communities from those who are unwilling to get to know them. I know that kids and families can come together and build a community, even as they move on from what had been familiar, and perhaps a family tradition of attending a particular school. I choose to trust that the amazing teachers, staff and building leaders, together with parents, can support our kids.
Community can be built even during times of change and transition when all are willing to stay focused on what we agree on: wanting the best learning opportunities for all kids across all communities in the district.
We are comprised of 17 amazing communities; our strength will come in being a unified district.
What distinguishes me is that I weigh decisions with the health of the district in mind, what is sustainable and what serves the learning needs of all kids.