Election 2016: Osseo School District 279 School Board Candidate Stephanie Fortner
Oct 27, 2016 10:12PM
By Wendy Erlien
Osseo School District 279 candidates were asked several questions via email by Maple Grove Voice. Below are the responses from Stephanie Fortner.
Q: What is your professional/personal background as it relates to the Osseo School District/School Board?
A: I believe that I am qualified to run for school board due to my education and experience. I earned an undergraduate and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of North Dakota. Upon graduation, I gained valuable classroom experience working with culturally diverse students helping them reach their full potential at Community Action of Ramsey and Washington County as a Head Start teacher. During that time, I also served for two years as a Professional Literacy Tutor with the Minnesota Reading Corps program. Currently, I am a Pre-Kindergarten teacher working to build relationships with families to help their child succeed in the classroom in the Columbia Heights School District. As a board member, I would rely on my education and eight years of classroom experience to make informed decisions to better serve the children, families and taxpayers within the ISD 279 Osseo Area School District.
Q: Why are you running for office?
A: As a member of the community, I believe that it is important to have strong schools. Education is a passion of mine. I think that there are many things we can do to improve the outcomes in our school district when it comes to graduation and literacy and math rates. As a school board member, I will work my hardest to reduce the achievement gap, keep students and staff safe and help maintain a healthy, sustainable budget.
Q: How do you feel you can make
an impact by serving on the Osseo School District School Board?
A: One of the most important responsibilities of an elected official is to listen and provide feedback to constituents concerns. I will answer every email and return every phone call that I receive. As a board member, I will be open minded to any suggestion that could improve student outcomes and management of taxpayer dollars within the school district. I would also work to create and maintain positive relationships with fellow school board members, community agencies, staff and the administration. I believe that it is extremely important to build relationships with the families and encourage parents or guardians to become involved in their child’s education.
Q: What do you
feel is the biggest challenge facing the school district?
A: Our state is home to one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation. This is unacceptable and should be something that concerns everyone in our community. While there have been many proposals to reduce the achievement gap there has been little progress made on this issue. According to the Department of Education, test scores have remained stagnant in the Osseo School District for the past five years. 73% of white students are proficient in reading while 38% of African American students are proficient. In math, 70% of white students are proficient, while 31% of African American students are proficient. I will work with all stakeholders to find ways to improve test scores, graduation rates and involve parents in the education process. Some ideas to close the gap include hiring and retaining the best teachers, provide smaller class sizes to improve the opportunity for individualized learning, expand summer enrichment programs, specific staff training and development and improved cooperation between teachers and parents.
Q: What would you like
voters/community members to know about you?
A: I was born and raised in Perham, Minnesota and went to college in Grand Forks, North Dakota where I met my husband Jonathan. We have lived in Maple Grove for the past six years with our two dogs Keymah and Echo. In my free time, I like to go running, tend to my backyard garden and spend time at the family cabin. For more information about my campaign, please visit my website at http://fortnerforosseo279.com of follow me on Facebook at Stephanie Fortner for District 279 School Board. I am ready to serve on the school board and I ask for your support on November 8th.