2 Albert Lea school board incumbents file for re-election
Published 9:57 am Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Editor’s note: Over the next few weeks the Tribune will profile candidates running in the Aug. 14 primary and the Nov. 6 election.
The Albert Lea school board has four seats up for the Nov. 6 election. Filing started Tuesday, and two candidates have already thrown their hats in the ring.
Filing ends Aug. 14 for the four seats, and there is no primary election. Three of the seats are four-year terms, and one is a two-year term. At filing, candidates must declare whether they’re seeking a four-year term or a two-year term. All candidates for each term run against each other because the ballot will ask voters to pick three people for the available four-year terms and pick one person for the available two-year term.
So far two incumbents have filed, both hoping for four-year terms. Look to the Tribune for more candidate profiles if more residents file for a school board seat. Following are profiles for incumbents Linda Laurie and Kim Nelson.
Linda Laurie filed Tuesday to run for a four-year term on the Albert Lea school board. Laurie has been the school board’s chairwoman since January and has been on the board for almost four years.
Laurie lives in Albert Lea with her husband, John, a medical oncologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea. They have five children: Lindsay, 29, Jordan, 23, Sidney, 21, Sean, 18, and Colin, 12. Laurie is also a LakeView Lion, volunteers with the school district and is a part of TTT, an organization that raises funds to send underprivileged girls to summer camp. Hobbies include traveling, cooking, reading and outdoor activities like gardening.
Laurie said she’d like to continue working on her goals for the school board, which include increasing student opportunities and achievement, increasing the graduation rate and keeping the district fiscally responsible, among others.
“One of my goals would be retaining the senior class,” Laurie said.
She also said when she first ran for school board four years ago one of her goals was to increase opportunities for higher-achieving students. With the district recently working on a gifted-and-talented program, Laurie feels like the district is moving in the right direction to provide extra opportunities for that group of children.
“As a school board we are there for the students,” Laurie said. “It’s fun to see when those kids succeed and become productive community members.”
So far, Laurie said the last four years on the school board have made for a rewarding experience, and she’s been glad to be a part of some big decisions like the realigning of the district that made elementary schools kindergarten through fifth-grade, the middle school sixth- and seventh-grade and the high school eighth- through 12th-grade.
“I’m thrilled with the realignment of the school district,” Laurie said. “Colin was a part of that being a new sixth-grader at the middle school, and he’s had a very successful year.”
If she is re-elected, Laurie said she’d like to continue the board’s transition to a governance model, where it sets policies and lets district employees manage and follow them.
“It’s a great way to lead the district,” Laurie said.
In her time on the school board Laurie has been involved in a few different committees including finance, facilities, technology and more. She said she’s learned a lot being involved in the committees including how to collaborate well and to focus on the students and their achievement.
Kim Nelson filed Tuesday to run for a four-year term on the Albert Lea school board. Nelson was appointed to the board in October. She was one of six applicants for the seat vacated by former board Vice Chairwoman Sally Ehrhardt, who resigned last July.
Nelson said she filed for a four-year term because she hadn’t got confirmation from the two other incumbents, Bill Leland and Jeshua Erickson, if they’re running and mostly because she’d like the chance to stay longer with the board if she were re-elected.
“I know that this is something I want to do long term,” Nelson said.
Nelson lives north of Albert Lea on Freeborn County Road 45 with her husband, Jeff, and children Adam, 13, and Sydney, 10. She’s the executive director of The Children’s Center and is active on the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau board, with the Thrive Initiative and with Trinity Lutheran Church. Hobbies include quilting, playing tennis with her daughter and being a cheerleader for her children at their sports and various activities.
She said since she hasn’t been with the board for even a full year she hasn’t had the chance to work on major goals. She does consider it an achievement to have been appointed by the board and said she was especially grateful because the others interviewed were strong candidates. One of her goals is to help the board continue to cultivate itself as a governance board.
“I think it’s very healthy for sustainability and for community involvement purposes,” Nelson said.
Another of her goals is to advocate that the district continue to offer all-day kindergarten. She thinks it’s best for children to have that much instruction to prepare for the next grade levels.
“It sends a huge message as a district that kindergarten is important,” Nelson said.
Nelson would also like the board to jumpstart one of its new initiatives, which is to present before local groups and to meet with residents. She said she’d like to be able to know what residents’ concerns are and be able to talk about successes in the district. Another goal would be to cultivate strong partnerships with local businesses for a school-to-work program.
“As a board member I would definitely support any initiative as it relates to that,” Nelson said.
Nelson is the board’s treasurer, so she sits on its finance committee. She’s also a member of its policy committee, where she’s been active reviewing all the district’s policies.