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Keith Jacobus Viewpoint: School Board is challenging, rewarding position
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opinion Cottage Grove, 55016
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

As the summer quickly passes by, we are well into our preparations for the upcoming school year. Although many of our students are not in classes this summer, we do have a wide variety of summer school programs and options. We offer courses to enrich the intellectual lives of our students and others that are focused on enhancing various academic skills. The summer months are also a time when we conduct a number of workshops for teachers and support staff. The district may appear quiet to many in the community but our work with kids never stops.

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One of the important issues facing us this fall is the upcoming levy and District 833 School Board election on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The election outcome will have critical financial implications for the district, but equally important to the future of the district will be five vacant seats on our school board.

Running for the school board is what I'd like to address today. With five of seven members' seats becoming vacant in January 2014, the opportunity to consider this form of local involvement may be something you may want to consider. The decision to run for a board position takes serious consideration. The school board is essential in leading our efforts to improve the learning opportunities for all students. The board is faced with complex decisions. They are asked to become experts in instruction, finance, transportation, facility construction and maintenance to name a few. It is a challenging, but rewarding position. In order to help potential board candidates fully understand the expectations of becoming a board member and to answer questions regarding the responsibilities, there are a few items I want to explain and I also want to inform you about an informational meeting we will hold on Aug. 1.

Some questions and answers that may support your decision-making include:

What is a school board?

A body of locally elected individuals who represent the communities they serve.

What is the purpose of the school board?

They have the authority to govern their local school district through the development and implementation of policies. They work to ensure effective, efficient and equitable delivery of high quality education to all of the district's students through adoption of policy. They are responsible for hiring, directing and evaluating the superintendent.

Why would someone want to run for the school board?

Individuals run for the board when they are concerned about the greater good of their community, knowing that schools are often the center of the community as they work together to support the growth and development of its youth. Others may choose to serve because they have a passion for education and understand the importance of providing all students with the highest quality educational experience. They may also be interested in solving problems or concerns that come through the system. They may work well in teams to support an educational system that encompasses all facets of an organization or business.

To learn more about becoming a member, and also about the current and future status of the South Washington County Schools, we are pleased to be hosting a school board candidate information session. The event is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, in the board room of the District Service Center, 7362 East Point Douglas Road S., Cottage Grove.

The district has also developed a "hot topic" web page for the November election. You can find it at www.sowashco.k12.mn.us.

Information posted includes the status of the five seats that will be on the ballot, filing periods and requirements, as well other details about the upcoming election. You may also contact me should you have any questions about the process in general. I can be reached at 651-458-6300.

Keith Jacobus is superintendent of South Washington County School District.

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