The South Washington County School Board has five seats up for election in 2013.
Four members will be elected to four-year terms; one will be elected to fill the vacancy of the two-year term expiring Jan. 4, 2016.
There are 14 people vying for the four-year terms and three candidates for the two-year term. The election is Nov. 5.
Sharon Van Leer, of Woodbury, is vying for a four-year term.
Check back on Patch for more candidate profiles.
From Van Leer:
Nov. 5, you, the community have an important decision to make, “Who
will represent you and your interests on the school board?” I am Sharon
Van Leer, and I am that candidate. I have been very active in the
community. I have served as a community member on the Equity and
Integration Board and a member of the South Washington County Education
My experience as a Multicultural Specialist at William Mitchell College of Law has given me the opportunity to work with children from various cultural and social economic backgrounds, introducing them to the legal profession. I am passionate about education, and I have the qualifications, skills, commitment and energy to represent your interests on the school board.
Patch: Why are you running for school board?
Leer: I am running because with the challenges ahead, I will bring a
fresh and unique perspective to the Board. As foster parents, my husband
and I had many experiences dealing with the school system and gained
insight into strategies and methods that helped to develop a positive
working relationship with the schools. Serving on the board would allow
me to continue advocating for children.
As a parent and foster parent, I know the importance of being responsive and receptive to parents, staff, students and the community—empowering them and encouraging open and meaningful dialog. School board members are trustees of the community that elects them, which makes all of us stakeholders. Therefore, we must be partners in this endeavor if we are to be successful. I want to make sure that we deliver on the promises made to the community.
As a board member I will:
- support access for all opportunities that will prepare our children for academic success;
- build and strengthen relationships between parents, students, teachers and the community;
- ensure that we maintain a strong financial standing and that sound, ethical and fiscal decisions are made; and
- improve school safety for our children.
Our children deserve the best and I am dedicated to providing them with every opportunity to succeed.
Patch: What qualifications do you have?
Van Leer: My family and I have lived in Woodbury for over three decades. We raised six children and 30 foster children. Three of our children graduated from Woodbury and one from Park High School.
Over the years, I have been very active in the South Washington County School District and previously served on the following district organizations:
- South Washington County Educational Foundation
- South Washington Education Equity and Integration Community Board
- Washington County Foster Parent Association
- District Diversity representative for Woodbury Senior High
I continue to serve on the Citizens Review Board for the Minnesota State Troopers, which has provided me with insight and broadened my knowledge on safety issues and what constitutes a safe environment.
Education Qualifications: AA Degree in Business Administration from Century College; BA in Business Administration from Metro State University; Currently pursuing a Masters in Organizational Leadership from Bethel University.
Patch: How are you voting on the three ballot questions? Why?
Van Leer: I firmly support passage of the levy and encourage community participation in voting “yes” on the three referendum questions.
The Legislature does not provide adequate funding for school districts, and has not for many years. We need the community’s help to maintain adequate funding for a strong, quality education. Voting for the levy has a potential for a return on the investment. Everyone in the community benefits from investing in education.
The quality of the school district can be directly related to higher property values. When property owners go to sell their homes, it is easier to attract buyers in a great school district because property owners can command a higher price.
On the other hand, property values in a mediocre school district would result in mediocre or lower property values. We have to take pride in our district and understand and realize that a strong, quality education for our children, and the skills that they will use for their whole lives, is a great investment.
In summary, I have been and will continue to voice my support to the media, my supporters and to the voters on the campaign trail to vote “yes” on the three referendum questions because it is an investment in our children and in our community—an investment which will one day pay off.
Patch: What is the biggest challenge facing District 833 schools? How would you address it?
Van Leer: As stated above, it is crucial to get the levy/referendum questions passed by the voters.
We also need to maintain our strong financial standing—working to ensure that our tax dollars benefit education for our children, and that we make sound, ethical and fiscal decisions.
Having been to the Parent University and school board meetings, I would like to see District 833 continue to invest in technology for our children and to support academic excellence. Every child should have access to opportunities to prepare for a successful future in a global society. In addition, the district needs to continue on the path to ensure that our children are safe inside and outside of the schools.
Last, but not least, it is imperative that we build and strengthen relationships between parents, students, teachers and the community—so that they are empowered, welcomed, valued and respected, and to improve the dialogue between the district and the community to collaborate in a more meaningful and purposeful manner.
Patch: Anything else you'd like to add?
Van Leer: There are 13 other candidates running for the four-year term. One of the ways to judge candidates is to learn what other people think about the candidates. I am very humbled to receive the endorsement of retired Superintendent Tom Nelson: “Sharon Van Leer is always on the side of a quality education for all students. She supports the district when it is deserved and at the same time she has and will demand improvement and fairness when the district can do a better job. We live in one of the best school districts in Minnesota. We need to maintain the quality of our schools ... I know our school district’s students will be best served by electing Sharon Van Leer to the ISD 833 School Board.”
The future of our children is in our hands. Our vision is reachable—if we stand together. We must be a community where our voices are heard and valued. Together We Stand, United We Succeed.
Please visit my website to learn more about me. On Tuesday, Nov. 5, please vote for Van Leer and vote “yes” on the three referendum questions. Thank you.
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