Twelve file for Roseville school board

(Created: Monday, July 30, 2007 2:56 PM CDT)

Twelve residents of Roseville Area School District 623, including only one incumbent, have filed to be placed on the ballot this year for three available School Board seats.

Tom Ring, of Roseville, is the lone incumbent seeking re-election. Board members not seeking re-election include Linda McLoon and Cecilia Warner.

Of the 11 other candidates to be considered on the ballot, some have filed simply for wanting to see District 623 change its elections policy as much as (if not more than) actually wanting election to the board.

According to a press release issued by candidate Bryan Olson, of Falcon Heights, he is one of four candidates who filed for School Board this year first and foremost to ensure that a primary election would be required in the district Sept. 11.

It will force tax dollars to be used for election purposes twice this fall, in September and again on the general election day of Nov. 6.

The group of four candidates is not standing in support of extra tax burden to residents of District 623, but rather, they want the district to shift to an even-year election schedule (when residents vote on state and national races, and Roseville residents vote for their mayoral and city council seats).

District residents will face primaries in addition to the general election day in 2008 as well, and the block of four School Board candidates wants to convince the district that switching to an even-year election schedule would be more financially sound for the long term, freeing up more dollars for classroom purposes, they stress.

Olson's partners in the crusade for even-year elections in District 623 include E.M. (Barney) Bahnemann, Sr., John Kysylyczyn, and Joe Machyowsky, all of Roseville. Kysylyczyn served as mayor of Roseville from 2000-2003.

Olson, in speaking with Sun Focus over the phone, said that he would expect less than 10 percent of the district's registered voters to come out for the Sept. 11 primary. The district would see much more respectable participation in an even-year primary, Olson says, when citizens vote down partisan ballots for state and national races.

Machyowsky, in a phone interview, said there are "good, professional people" serving on the board, but he said he could bring a grass-roots perspective to the board.

Machyowsky had more to say on other district issues. He said he would like to see a review of the curriculum system at all levels to reduce frills and, in turn, costs. Machyowsky said that foreign languages should be taught in elementary schools, and that he would want to see the district preserve use of the Fairview Community Center building.

Bahnemann, reached at his home by phone, said that he had no comment to share for this article.

Kysylyczyn could not be reached for comment before press time.

Many more to consider

Even without the four residents who are pressing for a switch to even-year elections in the district, the number of remaining board candidates (eight) still would have required a primary in September.

With three seats available, the district could have avoided a primary only with six or fewer candidates filing.

The other seven candidates comprising the balance of this year's field include Todd Anderson, Shari Dion, Lisa Edstrom, Jeanne Kelsey and Bruce Martin, of Roseville, Benjamin Kline, of Maplewood, and Georgiana May, of Falcon Heights.

Anderson noted in an e-mail that he has a 4-year-old daughter who will be entering Brimhall Elementary School in the fall of 2008. "I want to be on the board as we are discussing issues and topics that affect her education, and the education of her peers," Anderson told Sun Focus.

He currently serves on a school board advisory committee and the Legislative Action Committee, and he was a tri-chair of last year's successful Commitment to Community campaign to pass a levy referendum.

Dion says that the district must work hard to retain more of its resident students.

"I am passionate about quality education for all students and have been very involved in our schools during the past few years. District 623 staff and citizens are very committed to excellence in our schools, and we have much to be proud of," she told Sun Focus. "Still, it is hard to hear about children 'falling through the cracks,' classes being cancelled, standardized test preparation trumping other learning opportunities, and increasing class sizes. Education is no longer 'one-size-fits-all,' and families have many choices about where to send their children to school. I am eager to help District 623 move forward with high standards for all of our schools."

Edstrom noted in a phone interview that she has three children, including a senior and junior this fall at Roseville Area High School and a fifth-grader at Parkview Center School.

Edstrom said that she would like to see equal opportunity for all students in activities and services despite any financial, cultural or other disparities. She said that the district must make sure that it is meeting the individual needs of all students. She said she would also like to see more of an emphasis on safety in the schools.

Edstrom previously was appointed by the Roseville City Council to serve on a long-range vision steering committee.

Kelsey noted that she has two children in the district, one with special needs and the second could be classified as Gifted and Talented, the candidate told Sun Focus by phone. Kelsey said that she feels her direct connection to the district has given her a good understanding of the wide-ranging needs for all students.

Kelsey has served on the City of Roseville's Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA). "I am dedicated to my community," she said.

Martin told Sun Focus that he has been active on district committees for about five years. They include the District Curriculum Advisory Committee, the Scholarship Committee and the Community Education and Friendship Connection advisory councils. He has also been part of advisory teams at the high school and at Roseville Area Middle School.

"Filing for school board is the next step in contributing to the workings of the district," Martin wrote in an e-mail.

Neither candidate Kline nor May responded to requests for comment on the race before press time, but the incumbent Ring did respond.

He is seeking a second four-year term, and he believes that it would be good for one of this year's seats to go to the one candidate with board experience, Ring wrote in an e-mail.

"(This district) is a complex, $60 million organization that touches the lives of citizens in seven communities, from early childhood into the senior years; but, of course, our main focus is student achievement," Ring told Sun Focus. "It is a very good district and exciting work."

Sun Focus will send questionnaires out to each of the 12 official candidates in early August as part of preparations for a Primary Voter's Guide to be published Aug. 30.

The list of 12 will be narrowed to six on Sept. 11 for the Nov. 6 general election, and the General Election Voter's Guide would be published Oct. 25.

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