Laurie Johnson: District can improve standardized test scores
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Family: Married with three children
Occupation: Account manager for a Plymouth software company
Why she's running: "There are some groups of students who are falling through the cracks in our great district (per results of recent standardized tests), and that just seemed like something I want to help with."
The youngest of Laurie Johnson's three boys is a senior at Woodbury High School. But he doesn't spend much time there because he's enrolled in the school's post-secondary education option program.
"My kids have greatly benefited from the programs our district has available to students who are excelling," said Johnson, who is taking her first shot at a seat on the District 833 School Board.
But it's not her own children's academic experiences that have served as the impetus for Johnson's quest for a school board seat.
It was a letter she received in the mail over the summer from the school district that stated some of its schools were not making adequate yearly progress in the results of standardized math and reading tests.
"There are some groups of students who are falling through the cracks in our great district," Johnson said, "and that just seemed like something I want to help with."
What form that help will come in, Johnson said she isn't 100 percent sure. But she said she knows that with the quality of the teachers in South Washington County Schools, the district should be shooting higher than the minimum requirement to make it out of the current "Stage 3" designation the district is in.
"I know I'd value feedback and input from the community and the teachers, especially in areas where I might not have expertise," said Johnson, who is employed as an account manager for a software company in Plymouth. "But if there is one thing that my bosses and managers have said about me its that I'm persistent, dogged and always find a way to get the results, and this something I want to help us get right."
Johnson said she would bring a unique perspective to the school board because for two years she home schooled two of her children, which gave her an extra appreciation for all the work teachers do.
Johnson said teachers are the solution to what some in the community perceive as a problem of equity in resources among the schools.
"When you have a resource and a teacher who is on fire about their subject and they're passionate, I think that trumps any other resource," Johnson said. "The district does the best job it can to distribute resources throughout the different buildings in the district; it's the teachers that make the difference at the end of the day."
If the district were forced to make cuts to its budget, Johnson said she would make sure staff and building maintenance are the priority, and would seek to use technology to find ways to save money, a practice she said businesses have become accustomed to.
She said she would be conservative with the $5 million the district has left over from construction funds to build East Ridge High School.
"Needs are always going to come up, but I'm not going to be looking for ways to spend money," she said.