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Continued: Meet the candidates for two school boards

  • Article by: PAUL LEVY , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 22, 2013 - 1:49 PM


Janelle Kirkeide, of Ham Lake, is a school-library media specialist with the St. Anthony-New Brighton School District. Kirkeide, a Coon Rapids High School graduate, says she has lived her entire life in the district. She and husband Gary, a Ham Lake council member and former mayor, have two adult children.

“As a teacher I understand that bullying is an insidious problem in schools,” she said. “Every kid needs to feel safe and welcome in school.”

“I’m passionate about education and reading,” she said, “and would be an advocate for school libraries in the Anoka-Hennepin School District.”

Kirkeide said that she has sat on committees that have chosen three superintendents for the St. Anthony-New Brighton district.

“I’m familiar with that whole interviewing process, the vetting process and making sure the candidate is a good fit,” she said.


Paul Meunier, the former Ham Lake mayor and City Council member, is the father of a Blaine High School freshman. As a psychologist, Meunier has served Anoka-Hennepin students for 14 years. He is now director of services for the Minnesota Youth Intervention Programs Association.

“In regards to the tough times the district has been through recently, I think the lesson learned is that all students deserve a chance for a quality education in a safe environment,” Meunier said. “As a person who has worked with at-risk youth most of my adult life, I believe I can bring some insight to the board about achieving this goal.”

Meunier wants District 11 to receive the same compensatory revenue as other school districts. He said he would continue the board’s practice of investing more than 70 percent of general-fund dollars into the classroom and keeping administrative costs at 3 percent. He said the selection of a new superintendent has to be representative of the entire community’s wishes.



For the seven-member St. Francis school board, this election is pivotal. Four seats are being contested. Union contracts are about to expire. And the election follows a period when the board itself has gone through a few controversies.

Last year, two board members tried to have then-Chair Marsha Van Denburgh removed from the board. With two board members absent, Van Denburgh survived a 3-2 vote. Amy Kelly and Janet Glover, who voted for Van Denburgh’s removal, are now the board’s chair and vice chair, respectively.

A few months later, another board member, Matthew Rustad, was ousted after he admitted plagiarizing a column. Then Kelly also was accused of plagiarism. Kelly, who said she never claimed credit for a child’s tale she told in the school district newsletter, survived the challenge.

When David Roberts was appointed in March to replace Rustad, Van Denburgh accused the board of violating the open meeting law because a roll-call vote hadn’t been taken.

Seats held by Kelly and Glover are not up for election this year, but four others are. Roberts and Van Denburgh are among six candidates vying for three at-large seats; two other candidates are competing in a special election for a two-year seat.


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