School District 196 voters guide: Gary Huusko
Why do you want to be a member of the District 196 School Board?
I’d like the opportunity to continue to work with the board and administration to maintain the high achievement standards of District 196 students, ensure educational opportunities and advancement for all students, and provide positive future opportunities for all students, all within the constraints of a responsible budget.
What skills would you bring to the school board to help the district?
As an experienced attorney and community leader, I am recognized for my ability to work together with and interact effectively with a wide range of people and business leaders. My leadership and interpersonal skills have led me to being elected chair of both the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce (fka Northern Dakota Chambers of Commerce) and the Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce boards of directors. These skills are vitally important for school board members who work closely together developing policies and who interact with a wide range of people, including district administration, teachers and other district employees, parents, students, legislators and community residents. I also have knowledge and experience in school finance, having been a school board member for two years, being on the district’s Budget Advisory Council from 2004 through 2011, and being a member of the district’s Audit and Finance Committee and Legislative Committee.
All four candidates have said that they support the levy that will be on the ballot Nov. 5. Why do you think it is necessary?
The district has made substantial budget adjustments over the past several years. If the levy does not pass, the district will have to make additional adjustments of almost $30 million over the next two years. Those adjustments will result in larger class sizes across all grades, cutting programs, eliminating fifth grade band and ninth grade B-team sports, and increased participation fees. That will not only impact the quality of education our students receive, but it will also have a ripple effect throughout our communities, including effecting home values and making our communities less desirable to live or work in.
Where do District 196 schools excel? Where do you think they can improve?Our schools excel in many areas, including academics, speech and debate, athletics, music, theater, Destination Imagination, and robotics. Our District continues to work towards eliminating the achievement gap, which we can and will improve upon.