District 51 Board of Education candidate, District D, Dusti Reimer
Q: Why are you the best candidate to represent your district on the board?
A: With three young children, our family is just now wading into the waters of education and exploring what’s best for our kids. As a member of the Board of Education, I will ask the question, “Is this the best decision for our students?” For too long, there has been a disconnect between the decisions being made and the needs of our ever changing and evolving community. I think our school board should be made up of a wide variety of voices, and currently the one main voice missing is that of a mom — for the students and parents.
Q: Do you support the bond measure and mill levy override? Why or why not?
A: I reluctantly support the bond measure. We as a community must make a commitment to take care of the infrastructure of our school system. Regardless of the decisions of the past that have led to the current state of the system, we need to step up and address these needs. I am reluctant because I think we could have done a better job prioritizing the projects proposed for funding.
At this point, I do not support the mill levy override. There are a host of actions needed in order to begin rebuilding trust between the district and the voters, such as getting the calendar sorted out and making tough personnel decisions. My focus on the board will be to build sound budgets, support sensible policies for parents and kids, and be a good steward of the public’s money. Once we have rebuilt trust by enacting common sense solutions, I think the community will gladly support additional support for the district.
Q: What are your impressions of new initiatives, such as performance-based learning and strategic teacher compensation? What other initiatives or policy changes would you like to enact?
A: My impression of performance-based learning is that when it is implemented correctly, students can thrive. We need to make sure we have great leadership at each school to ensure the teachers are supported with carrying out this curriculum. This approach will require that principals are empowered and accountable.
While we know teacher compensation needs to be better across the board, we also know that compensation is not the sole factor in attracting and retaining high-performing teachers in hard-to-staff positions. Teachers’ perceptions of their school administrators are the most important factor affecting whether they decide to stay at a school, trumping concerns about compensation.
With strong, new leadership in our school district, I will help empower teachers who feel confident in their leadership and direction that their schools are going. We can work together to create an evaluation system that recognizes and rewards our best teachers.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge District 51 faces and what can you do as a board member to address it?
A: Trust. Parents need to know that someone is looking out for the needs of kids and families. When an administrator demonstrates unacceptable personal conduct, we need to take action — promptly. When we build the annual calendar, we need to first ask ourselves what’s best for kids and families, then develop a schedule that accomplishes it. And when our kids are underperforming their peers around the state, and fewer than half are going on to any kind of college, we have to chart a new course. The current board has been well-meaning and earnest. But our results aren’t what we need. It’s time for fresh ideas and a different perspective — from a mom.