Why are you running for school board?
I am passionate about education and setting the stage for success among RASD students. As the only elected school board incumbent in this election, it is imperative that board continuity drive the updated strategic plan and set the stage for success among our recently hired superintendent. I have completed one term and my work is not done. Throughout my adult life, I have supported education through teaching, student preceptorships, mentoring and volunteerism. As a Lower Sioux member, I am committed to my community as well as the students in the school district through a kinship that supports all students.
From your perspective, what is the role of a school board member?
According to Minnesota law, “the care, management, and control of independent districts shall be vested in a Board of Directors.” As a current elected school board member, I understand the board’s role and responsibility in the governance of the RASD. Decision-making is one responsibility of the Board. The board has one employee which is the superintendent. As a board we work with our Superintendent to carry out the strategic plan. Effective boards work toward a consensus model in decision-making. In times where there is not consensus, the board collaborates to support the final decision.
How would you as a school board member balance fiscal responsibility and ensuring students receive the services they need?
The board uses data to plan, budget and direct the services to students. This involves data-driven decisions from our administrators, faculty, staff, parents, and students on current needs as well as projections for the coming year. Student enrollment dictates what we receive per student each year. The annual budget is approved by the board through review of revenue appropriations and forecasts from State, Federal, grant and our local tax base. I take responsibility for review and approval of the annual budget and monthly expense report. Careful consideration of monies received from local property taxes are part of my decision-making.
What do you think is the Redwood Area School District’s greatest asset? How would you as a school board member best utilize that asset?
Our school administration, faculty, staff are the greatest assets. Setting the stage for success is the board’s responsibility. This is reflected in the district’s work culture, student achievement, staff satisfaction, mentoring and retention among teachers. As a member of the board’s personnel committee I have completed two successful contract negotiations with Education Minnesota and other staff groups. I also participate with faculty and staff on committees and other aspects of shared governance which drives work culture and satisfaction. The Board works to assure manageable class sizes to accommodate teacher – student ratios that foster learning.
How would you work to collaborate with other units of government at the local, state, and federal level?
During my board tenure, I promoted community stakeholder engagement through participation in updating the Board strategic plan and superintendent panel interviews. Locally, I connect with leaders noting changes affecting school enrollment. As a member of Commissioner Malcolm’s COVID-19 Advisory Committee, I advocated for personal protective equipment appropriations for schools. At the Federal level, I have advocated within the office of Senator Tina Smith to support technical education, teacher student-loan forgiveness and Indian Education programming. As a current board member, I was also a proponent to partner with Minnesota West Community & Technical College in our career center offerings.
Do you think the school district’s current strategic plan is taking the district in the right direction?
As a current board member who advocated for an updated strategic plan with community involvement, I believe the plan is moving in the right direction to support students. The current strategic plan was developed in 2020 with stakeholder input from the board, administration, faculty, staff, students, and community leaders. The plan consists of five areas including student achievement, student support, finance, facilities, and workforce. From the focus areas, goals, objectives, outcomes, and activities are listed. Measurement and evaluation are completed of these areas through an array of metrics. Upon evaluation, the plan can be modified to meet the district’s mission.
Other than the above topics, what do you think is the school district’s most important issue that needs to be addressed. How would you work to resolve it?
Reede Gray Elementary School has served our community for generations. With the age of the building, the board will need to decide on options of significant renovations or a new building in the coming years. Factors include functionality, needs of today’s learning environment, safety, building sanitation, energy efficiencies and property value if we build elsewhere. Currently we receive State funding for long term building maintenance that is based on the age of a building. This amount will decrease significantly with a new building. Board experience, training and continuity are imperative to assure a well vetted decision.
Provide a brief bio of yourself.
Darin Prescott is a Redwood Falls/Morton High School alumnus. He is an enrolled member of Lower Sioux Indian Community where he is employed as Clinic CEO. Prescott earned his associate, bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees in nursing and an MBA. Within the RASD, he is appointed to the personnel and continuing education committees, and Redwood Area Education Foundation. He is an active community volunteer including Lower Sioux Education Committee and Redwood County Restorative Justice. Dr. Prescott represents the four Minnesota Dakota Communities on the Minnesota Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council and is secretary of the Great Lakes Area Tribal Health Board.