School board candidate looks to bring his experience to a third term

Published 6:11 am Thursday, August 25, 2022

David Klatt needed a sign before deciding to run for a third term on the Albert Lea school board. That sign came to him two months ago.

David Klatt

“It was towards the end of filing,” he said. “I had decided that I was only going to do two terms, and then we had hired a new superintendent.”

The moment was ideal for him, as he was worried about potential learning loss following the start of the pandemic, and he thought that he could offer his experience one more term.

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“When I started with the school board I knew it was a very complicated system,” he said. “So I feel very good about learning each of the areas and I found out that with the governance model that our school board has had for a number of years, we’re able to rely on expertise of the administration and the school district to give us the information  to make our decisions with, which I believe over time has always been good information.”

That’s the deal Klatt makes with whomever the superintendent is while he’s serving.

“If you give me the information that I feel is correct, we’ll be able to make good decisions,” he said. “If you don’t, we’ll have a lot of public discussion.”

Over his two terms, he said change was good because he learned something and that with each experience “you get more experience and more educated” and were therefore better able to make good decisions. He also liked the new perspectives people brought as board composition changed, and said “everyone’s view is important.”

He noted oftentimes whenever new people joined the board, there were a few issues they wanted to solve and that if they were able to address them, those new people could be “dead in the water” because their issues were resolved.

Klatt described himself as resilient and collaborative.

“There’s been a number of times that our board has made a decision that wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to go, it wasn’t exactly the way I voted,” he said. “But the minute we made that decision and I walked out of that room with everyone else, I [will] stand by that decision 100% because it’s what’s best, majority rules, for our school district.”

More importantly, he said if the board could not unite on an issue, community members could come back and question other decisions board members made.

If elected, Klatt said he would bring his listening skills to the board.

“There’s a lot of people from my eight years that have approached me about situations,” he said. “I had one [last Thursday and] … I was able to listen and I was able to work with our administration to find an answer for that parent.”

He also felt he could bring communication skills with both the board and community. 

He also wanted to continue coaching.

“I was at a tournament … and I took half a dozen kids to the side that I saw that I knew were in school,” he said. “… I ask them ‘How’s it going, what’s good, what’s bad, what do we need to work on,’” he said.

Another of his biggest focuses during a third term would be the district’s plan on a school-to-work and vocational path for students not planning to go to college (at least immediately). He would also like to be able to retain as much staff as possible and find “good candidates” for open positions.

“At the end of the year, it’s hard,” he said. “Somebody might leave a position — it’s hard to find a new one this quickly — but I think we’ve done a pretty good job.”

Klatt also wanted to emphasize the district’s fiscal responsibilities, and said that he often asks ‘Why’ and said any decision should have a need for it (as opposed to just a want), and likes the district’s fund balance.

He’s proud of facility upgrades and the district’s handling of the pandemic.

Klatt, who has served as a school teacher, coach and assistant athletic director over six years in two different systems, comes from a family of educators.

“My dad was a school board chairman for almost 20 years at another smaller district not too far from here,” he said. “I’ve helped do a lot of coaching over all the years that I’ve been in Albert Lea and before.”

He also taught at a university while earning his master’s degree.

“I’ve had a lot of different experiences with school, being a teacher, … an administrator and of course a student when you get all those degrees,” he said.

And it’s his experience in a classroom and as an administrator that he felt qualified him for the position.

“My experience from being a classroom teacher is I know how the teachers feel,” he said. “From an administrative standpoint, I know how things work. And from a school board standpoint I know how they can work.”

He has also learned to make decisions based on the largest part of the whole, a concept he said some people didn’t know how to make.

On the current board composition, he liked the board’s size (currently there are seven members, but there were six when he started), and said an extra person gave the board another “set of skills” in making decisions.

And Klatt felt his experience made him a good candidate, especially as it pertained to collaboration and listening.

“I’ll go to bat for things that we need to go to bat for,” he said. “I hope I can be that conduit that, if a person has a question on an issue that isn’t necessarily something that we decide at the board level, i.e. an operational type issue, than I hope that my experience can step forward and say, “Well, that’s not something that we deal with because that is delegated.

“However, if you have a real concern let’s take it to the board level.”   

Being on the board for so long, Klatt has served on every chair and is the current board’s clerk. Klatt also works as an insurance agent, a financial services representative and owns a coffee shop, Mocha & Mini.

“I really enjoy being a part of the board,” he said. “It’s a complex board to the point that there’s so many different areas and so many different directions that we go, I feel very blessed for the administration that we have because they’re the ones that deal with it day-to-day and present to us if there’s a problem.”