Milroy school board candidate: Brian VanDeVeire
Why are you running for school board?
I decided I needed to run for school board because I along with many other community members have tried to work with and communicate with the current school board over the last two years. The current school board refuses to have conversations with the community members about the high taxes. They also were not transparent with the referendum that passed in 2015 and they were not transparent with what the impact would be on the taxes by closing the charter school. Both of which had huge tax increase implications. As a board member I will not ignore community members and will always be open and honest with them.
From your perspective, what is the role of a school board member?
I believe the role of a school board member is to first make decisions that are in the best interest of the students. A school board member should be elected by the district members because they can be trusted to make educated and sound decisions that are best for the students, school, and taxpayers. They need to have strong leadership skills and be willing to ask tough questions. Communication with the district members is key, and they should be willing to listen and provide feedback with them.
How would you as a school board member balance fiscal responsibility and ensuring students receive the services they need?
If I were a school board member, I would first have some tough conversations with the entire board to weigh all the options. Then I would present those options to the community to explain the true reality this school district is facing. I would ultimately leave it up to the district members to decide by survey or special election that would allow them to vote on the future of the school. No matter what the outcome of that vote would be I would make the best financial decisions to ensure the students are receiving the services they need, and that the school is best utilizing the funds it has to operate at its highest efficiency.
What do you think is the Milroy School District’s greatest asset? How would you as a school board member best utilize that asset?
I think the Milroy community is a small tight knit community that has a right to be fully informed from the school board. The current school board and Superintendent Heide have claimed they have overwhelming support of the community to keep it open and continue operating it at its current high budget. Last year we had a petition with 70 signatures on it asking for a vote on the future of the school. The school board blocked that petition with their lawyer taking away the voice of the community. If I were a board member I would be fully transparent with the community members and I will give them the facts so they can make informed decisions for the future of Milroy School.
How would you work to collaborate with other units of government at the local, state and federal level?
I will be willing to learn and take on the challenge of working with these units of government to fight for the services the students of Milroy School need.
What do you envision as the future of the Milroy School District?
I believe the future of the Milroy school is in a tough position. It has a declining enrollment and currently there are only 39 students K-6 attending the school with a $1.3 Million budget. I truly believe the community and district members need to have some important conversations to decide what the district should do going forward. If I were on the school board I would encourage and allow those conversations to be had.
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?
I think the most important issue that needs to be addressed is the low student count and the very high budget to educate those children. I would work closely with the entire school board and I would hold meetings with the community to get feedback from everyone. I see two possible options, first one is consolidating with Tracy which would greatly reduce the tax burden on the community and give the students the opportunity to make more friendships and enhance their social skills with more students in each classroom. Option two is to continue paying the high taxes to keep the Milroy School running as is with a large annual budget with some classrooms only have 3 and 4 students per grade.
Please provide a brief bio of yourself.
I grew up in Canby, MN, attended college at SMSU in Marshall, and have lived in the Marshall area since 1997. My wife and I purchased our farm site in 2009 just outside of Milroy. We have two girls ages 6 and 4. I currently work for a large bank as a project manager overseeing the technology piece of many large projects. I am also responsible for keeping the IT finances within budget. I am very fiscally responsible when it comes to spending and will carry this mentality over as a school board member.