Marsha Van Denburgh not only hopes to return to the board, she also hopes the “collaborative approach the district had maybe three years ago” can be rekindled.
“There’s discontent on a lot of levels,” she said. “I don’t see teachers being valued. Some of our staff is disillusioned. We used to have site management councils that took the lead on budgets. They could see the needs of a certain department. About two years ago, that was taken away from them.”
Van Denburgh, of Oak Grove, is running for her second term. She is a therapeutic foster parent. She has nine kids, including three birth children, whose ages range from 6 to 28.
“I have a unique perspective,” Van Denburgh said. “I see challenges that others don’t see.”
Malcolm T. Vinger II, of Nowthen, is an engineer with two young daughters in the St. Francis district. He says he frequently attends school board meetings — enough to be concerned about the district’s declining enrollment, changing curriculum, budget issues and sometimes unsettled staff.
“I’ve seen some of the problems that plague the schools,” said Vinger, whose father was a principal in Cass Lake.
“We need to provide a quality education for the kids,” Vinger said. “That’s the bottom line.”
He said board members need to remember that their decisions affect the entire school district, including families with children in school.
St. Francis two-year seat
Vying for District 15’s two-year seat are Betsy Roed and Scott Schwarz, both of Oak Grove.
Betsy Roed is a St. Francis High School graduate with three young children — “my main motivation for running,” she said.
She worries about people’s perception of the district.
“I’ve lived here forever and know that negativity spreads like wildfire,” Roed said. “I’m here to show people that there are a lot of good things happening in the community.”
Roed says that a hardworking school board isn’t enough. Board members must learn to work together and support one another, she said.
“I want to improve the communication lines between the school board and the public,” she said. “The board needs to be willing to work together.”