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Q&A with District 834 School Board challenger Jennifer Pelletier

Jennifer Pelletier

• Age: 45

• City of residence: Lake Elmo

• Years lived in district: 15

• Education: University of Minnesota, Bachelor's, speech communications and English

• Occupation: Minnesota Public Radio, newsroom coordinator, part time

• Notable community and civic involvement: I have served on and led many civic committees in Lake Elmo, Washington County, and District 834. To include: Lake Elmo Planning Commission, nine years; chairwoman of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon/Lake Elmo; Washington County Parks, Trails and Open Space Commission; 9-12 Transition Team, Stillwater Area High School; co-chairwoman of the SAHS music department's rummage sale fundraiser; organized safety project at Lake Elmo Elementary, which resulted in a crosswalk, parking lot, and flashing lights to alert drivers of students trying to cross Highway 5

• Contact: pelletierforschools.com; jenniferpelletier2016@gmail.com

Why are you running for the Stillwater Area School Board?

I am running after many members of this community asked me to run, citing my track record of leading and completing collaborative projects which resulted in positive outcomes. I decided to step up because I love this district, and I feel that I exhibit a set of qualities that will be of value to the community.

As a parent of three children attending Stillwater schools, I am deeply invested in ensuring our district moves forward in implementing our strategic plan, Bridge to Excellence. Developed by and supported by a broad stakeholder group made up of parents, teachers, community members and business leaders, it strives to build a district of excellence and better serve all students. I cannot accept the idea of going backwards, of losing another superintendent or losing another administration.

Our taxpayers, parents, children, and faculty deserve a school board that will address our systems now.

I want to contribute by using my skills to rebuild trust with our communities.

I wish to support a robust plan to showcase the exceptional educational opportunities within our district and increase our enrollment by attracting families who are currently seeking other options and ensure we move forward in implementing our strategic plan, Bridge to Excellence.

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

Difficult decisions have been made during the past two years that have impacted families in this community, including the closing and sale of Valley Crossing Community School.

With Brookview Elementary opening in 2017, there are new opportunities to address key issues: first and foremost, improving and increasing achievement for every student, raising the bar to ensure academic excellence with strong rigorous programming at all levels and in all schools, for every student; improving communication and engagement with the district, families and all residents, building trust and pride in the excellence of Stillwater Area Public Schools after transitions to new schools and grades; stability in leadership and finances; and accountability that taxpayer dollars are spent on student learning: our citizens have stepped up to pass levies, and we owe them accountability for these tax dollars.

How do you plan to address these issues if elected?

We must work to re-engage the community and restore trust and communication with all communities. That includes developing a comprehensive plan to reach out to families not currently attending our local schools.

I will work to earn the trust of the public by being a school board member who is accessible and responsive to the community and will work tirelessly to unify this district. To become a district of excellence, we cannot afford to pause or go backwards. The revolving door of superintendents negatively impacts all students in this district. When we cannot maintain consistency in leadership, systems break down, communication breaks down and our children pay the ultimate price.

A strong board should be able to do the work that will ensure the sustainability of our programs, systems, staff, and overall administration. I will support and hold the current administration accountable for implementing the district's strategic plan, Bridge to Excellence, and use of public dollars.

What distinguishes you from the other candidates?

I am known for being a champion for causes that people care about and am a demonstrated leader in our community.

People who know me can tell you that I ask critical questions, leave no stone unturned in seeking solutions and am committed to finding consensus through thoughtful and respective dialogue and compromise.

I am a multi-issue candidate who is willing to address overall district issues, engage our community and consider the consequences of how each decision affects the district as a whole.

While the closing of three elementary schools was a difficult decision for the school board, I support aligning our budget with district goals and putting dollars into programming for students. I want what is best for all students, their families and the entire community.

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