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Q&A with District 834 School Board challenger Tom DeGree

Tom DeGree

• Age: (no answer)

• City of residence: Lake Elmo

• Years lived in district: 10 years

• Education: Bachelor's in business; master's in curriculum arts; administrative license

• Occupation: Associate director of the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools; student teacher supervisor, Hamline

• Notable community and civic involvement: Lake Elmo Library board member; chairman of Family Means Garden Tour, 2009-2012

• Contact: thomasdegree@yahoo.com

Why are you running for the Stillwater Area School Board?

This is an important time in the Stillwater school district. Many groups are feeling divided and I want to help unify them. With varied work experience as an educator and business owner, I will be able to deeply understand multiple stakeholder perspectives and use my knowledge and skills to make decisions that benefit students in the whole district.

What are the biggest issues in District 834 for residents living in Woodbury?

Students transitioning from Valley Crossing to Brookview elementaries next year will be moving to a more traditional classroom setting. The move will be difficult for some students as they leave school friends and adjust to a different pedagogy.

There is concern that Brookview it is not large enough. Some families who live only four to five blocks will still be bused to Lake Elmo Elementary.

I also think people are worried they have been put into the situation that anti-Building Opportunities to Learn and Discover (BOLD) means not opening the school in Woodbury. Our district needs to come together, north and south, pro- and anti-BOLD, to work on making the whole district work.

How do you plan to address these issues if elected?

For far too long, people in the Stillwater school district have ignored or didn't know that 20 percent of the students in our district come from Woodbury.

I would have liked to see a forum held in Woodbury and I would work on having more events at Brookview Elementary to increase the interaction of Woodbury residents with residents from elsewhere in the district.

For the short term, I think that having staff at Brookview trained in the responsive-classroom approach will really help current Valley Crossing Elementary students with their transition.

I would also encourage and work with a candidate from Woodbury to run for the Stillwater School Board in 2018.

What distinguishes you from the other candidates?

I ran for the Minnesota House of Representatives in District 39B in 2012 and 2014 and talked to a lot of people in our district. I feel I understand the needs of this area because of these conversations.

I've worked for 30 years in K-12 education and can help the board understand the day-to-day realities of students and staff in our district and how policy changes and other decisions impact the school experience and outcomes.

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