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Little debate at school forum

There was a lot of agreement among candidates at a Tuesday morning Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School Board forum.

The forum, sponsored by the Dakota County Regional Chambers of Commerce, took place at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at Rosemount City Hall. Questions focused on relationships between schools and the business community as well as technology and the district’s upcoming levy vote.

Craig Angrimson, the only non-incumbent on the Nov. 5 ballot, found himself in agreement with incumbents Art Coulson, Gary Huusko and Mike Roseen on most issues.

All four candidates called the proposed $10 million per year operating levy a necessity.

“This (levy) isn’t a cure all for us, but it puts us on firm footing,” Coulson said, pointing out that the district has made $30 million in budget cuts over the past four years. “We need to invest in our schools.”

All four also supported legislation passed this year that allows school districts to convert up to $300 per student worth of voter-approved levy money to board-approved levy, removing residents’ ability to vote on whether to continue the funding.

“We’re one of the few forms of government that have that restriction placed on us,” Roseen said. “I need the ability along with the other board members to make sure we can fulfill our responsibilities.”

The candidates supported the use of new technologies in the classroom and said the district has supported teachers and administrators as they pushed to use innovative new teaching methods such as flipped classrooms, where students watch pre-recorded lectures on the day’s lessons then work on what used to be homework problems in class where the teacher is able to help answer questions. The format makes it easier for students to work at their own pace.

In recent years the district has made improvements to wireless Internet networks at its schools to lay the groundwork for the use of emerging technologies. A district technology committee spent time over the summer studying the best ways to integrate technology into the classroom.

“The bottom line is getting the best education for the students,” Angrimson said.

Candidates played up partnerships between district schools and local businesses. Volunteers from area businesses partner with schools to advise teams in areas as diverse as robotics and mock trial. The district also has a mentorship program that sends students into local businesses to learn about a field that interests them.

Before this school year teachers from Rosemount High School visited Thompson Reuters to talk about what skills students need to succeed after high school.

In April of this year the district announced a plan to work more closely with the business community.

“I think everybody understands that a strong school system creates the workers of the future,” superintendent Jane Berenz said at the time. “Everyone’s understanding how important it is to have workers go into the workforce ready for a career or college.”

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606