Edward Nowak: Push for improved achievement
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Family: Married with one son
Occupation: Plant manager, Wilbert Plastic Services, White Bear Lake
Why he's running: "Basically because I want to try to give back something to the community. I also want to make sure that the community's getting good value," from the education system.
Edward Nowak's key views of education are framed by his 40 years in manufacturing.
South Washington County schools should focus on academic basics, but also serve students with vocational interests, he said.
Student progress should be measured against benchmarks that continuously are raised.
Budget cuts sometimes are necessary and can improve the system, he said, and all budget areas should be examined for wasted spending.
A 10-year Woodbury resident and first-time District 833 School Board candidate, Nowak said he is a "big-picture guy" not yet familiar with all issues facing the district. Nowak said he wants to make sure students get good value from the schools and that taxpayers get their money's worth.
Nowak said he would bring a different approach to the school board. He said he has management experience, likes to analyze data and is good at planning.
"I look at it as hopefully doing good for the community, and not because I'm altruistic. I just think it's my turn," he said.
Nowak said he chose to run for school board, rather than other elected offices, in part because "this came up, and why not?"
Nowak said he supports academic standards, but is open to seeing the federal No Child Left Behind law changed if it is made more rigorous.
The district has over $5 million remaining from the bond referendum that funded East Ridge High School construction.
"Save it, absolutely," Nowak said. "To dump it right in the general fund and start spending it would be pennywise, pound foolish, I think."
Maintaining elective courses, such as technology education, is important because they interest students not drawn in by core subject areas, Nowak said.
"If you start hitting the electives, I think you're ruining the school experience," he said.
Foreign language education is important, too, because of the global economy.
"We're kind of idiots in the rest of the world. They all think we're kind of stupid because we only speak one language," said Nowak, who has traveled for business. "I think it's very important for children to get more of a language background, and it also, in some cases, will inspire them to do a little traveling, to get out and see the rest of the world."
Nowak said district boundaries can present a challenge, particularly at the high school level if the schools offer different programs. A student should not be bound to one school if another building offers classes that interest that student, Nowak said. If programs and classes are different, students should be able to transfer.
"That drives competition amongst the individual schools," he said.