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Bulletin letters to the editor: School board election, levy vote, community pig roast

Recent letters to the editor of the Bulletin:

Thanks for help with charity pig roast

Each year support for the community charity pig roast sponsored by five area churches comes from a variety of organizations, businesses and individuals in Cottage Grove and surrounding communities. This year’s pig roast took place Aug. 10 and raised more than $8,000.

We wish to gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the following: Thrivent Financial for Lutherans’ Dakota-Washington Chapter, Catholic Financial, VFW Post 8752, Valley Vineyard in Prescott, Tinucci’s Restaurant, O’Reilly Auto Parts, SuperMom’s Bakery, Anchor Bank, Stone Soup Thrift Shop, Julie Jungwirth-Bretoi with Farmers Insurance, Sam’s Club in Woodbury, RSI Insurance in Hastings, Great Clips on East Point Douglas Road in Cottage Grove, Great Clips on 80th Street in Cottage Grove, Carbone’s Pizza in Cottage Grove, American Motorsports Bar and Grill, Fantastic Sam’s, Chuck & Don’s Pet Food, Cardinal Corner in Newport, Don and Merikay Leslie, Von Hanson’s Meats, S&N Consulting, Gary Kroft, Sherwin Williams in Hastings, Culver’s in Cottage Grove, Bob and Charlotte Turbot, Ruby Tuesday’s in Cottage Grove, Dick Ihrke and Jim Shinn.

Chuck Kaiser, Cottage Grove

Member of the committee

Take partisan activity out of School Board races

There’s no denying it: I’m a very active, liberal Democrat. And yet over the years, I’ve voted for several school board members who are active, conservative Republicans. And that’s because what’s best for our schools does not lie in partisan politics. Rather, it lies in well-intentioned people who can represent the fullness of our district. Effective school boards are composed of moderate people who, while they may have their own points of view, are people who can listen, gather information, consider dissident voices, and come to well-reasoned conclusions that unite our community versus divide it, as they set education policy.

Yet in the last several elections, political partisans have sought to find their way into the conversation by endorsing school board candidates according to their ideology and their faithfulness to partisan principles. I believe this is a very bad precedent for the district and our kids, as party politics brings to the table a we-they perspective that does not help members to truly consider and represent the full needs of all our district’s children.

As school board candidates ask for your vote this election, ask them why they are running. Are they trying to bring forward a specific partisan view, or are they running in order to better understand educational issues in our district and serve the full community? Are they running to tear something down, or to build something up? Are they running so they can improve education for all children in our district, or just to represent a specific few? Will they help to unite or divide our schools and communities? I hope you will select those who can bring a positive voice to our school board, and will help to keep the momentum of constructive dialog that we have enjoyed in our district for decades — and above all, who will keep our school board free from partisan bickering.

Michelle Witte, Woodbury

833 candidate Griffin is consistent decision maker

I have known John Griffin for some time. He advocated for both of my children in their unique educational situations within our district. Both of my children are now thriving, and for this I am forever grateful. John has been a volunteer within the district for 30 years, and has shown over time his consistent decision-making ability and his innate ability to explore the various issues often facing our district. He approaches major issues using a theme of  consistency and his proposed four-step process.

John’s consistency and decision-making ability have also led to the success of his own business. To me, his theme and solution proposal makes him the ideal candidate for our school board.

We need John Griffin on our school board.

Richelle Niehaus, Cottage Grove

School staff recognized for excellence

Last June I retired as principal of Pine Hill Elementary School. Early in September I learned that Pine Hill was recognized for its work to close the achievement gap. I was not surprised to see that the hard-working staff and students had made great achievement gains with African-American students and English language learners. On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised to see the hard-working faculty finally get praise for their dedication and diligent efforts.

MinnCAN (Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now) is currently on a tour called “Road to Success” and made a stop at Pine Hill Elementary to recognize the teachers, and other staff members, for the excellent achievement gains of African-American students and English Language learners. Pine Hill ranked No. 7 in both of these subgroups for proficiency performance on state assessments. Daniel Sellers, executive director of MinnCAN, the visiting advocacy nonprofit organization, said: “With more than 1,960 schools in the state, earning a top 10 ranking is a tremendous accomplishment.”

It is not possible in this letter to name every teacher and support staff member who contributed to this tremendous accomplishment, but I will say it starts when children enter school (preschool and kindergarten) and follows them as they climb through the grades. Some of the children benefit from Reading Corps and some from Reading Recovery. Many take advantage of targeted services for before- and after-school instruction while others connect through art, Spanish, music, media, special education or physical education instruction.

Since Patrice Siefert is the only English language learning teacher at Pine Hill, it’s safe to single her out. Ms. Seifert, and her work, deserves to be singled out for her excellent collaboration with many teachers, paraprofessionals and parents to help her students be successful.

Hats off to Pine Hill.

Kevin Samsel, retired principal