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Alberder Gillespie: Wants accountability and results

Alberder Gillespie

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Alberder Gillespie

Age: 39

Residence: Woodbury

Family: Married with two children

Occupation: Self-employed consultant in human capital management and development

Why she's running: "I have been a strong advocate for public education for over two decades."

Alberder Gillespie, who was appointed to the District 833 School Board in 2006, after the resignation of Carrie Olson, said she wants to make sure the board makes good on its promises.

The district changed a lot over the past two years, she said, and board members told parents changes would significantly improve education opportunities for their children.

"Are they having an impact?" she said. "We talked about how changes in the middle school would impact students. I want to see how that plays out."

If the budget needs to be cut, she would consider all possibilities.

"Even if there were no cuts, we need to eliminate programs that aren't working," she said.

Decisions will be made soon on how to spend approximately $5 million from the 2006 construction referendum and Gillespie was asked how she would vote to spend it.

"When we spend that money, are we getting a return on it?" she said.

Gillespie wants the board to have a plan in place before decisions have to be made, rather than waiting for a specific proposal.

She wants to discuss academic achievement and why there are differences between schools. Two schools might have passed state tests, but one was 80 percent proficient and the other achieved 65 percent.

"Why is there an achievement gap?" she said. "I don't think we talk about that for fear that we're comparing schools. Is it technology? We shouldn't be afraid to ask."

Students should be allowed to change high schools to take advantage of a different academic program, Gillespie said.

She prefers, however, to let the current situation "settle" for a while.

"It should be on a case-by-case basis," she said. "You could create chaos."

As to whether the district should continue to offer world languages in elementary schools, Gillespie favors it, but only if it achieves results that can be measured such as more students taking languages in high school.

Gillespie doesn't believe theater arts and music should be pitted against academic programs if the budget needs to be cut.

"They are two different things," she said.

A student might be getting good grades but his or her passion might be in drama and theater, she said.

While she understands the need for high academic standards in the federal No Child Left Behind law, getting 100 percent of students to pass state tests by 2014 "is unrealistic."

There should be standards that acknowledge continued growth.

Unlike Minnesota, some states have very low standards. "If you can hold a pencil, you can pass," Gillespie said.

For more information, go to Gillespie's web site at

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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