Rian Burkes

Rian Burkes

Address: Hibbing

Age: 38

Occupation: Owner Nelson Roofing Inc./KBC and James Bay Farms

Spouse/family: Three children: Ayva, 15, Emma, 13, and Kaeleb, 9, all attend Hibbing schools

Memberships in organizations/clubs: 12-plus years Committee Member/local chair of Ducks Unlimited; 6 years Hibbing Chamber Board of Directors and the Business Retention and Economic Development Committee; Encore of Hibbing Board; past member at Mesaba Country Club; have helped with and donated money to numerous organizations over the years; helped Hibbing track coaches; served on Hibbing Track Booster Club

Past experience as a candidate: Ran for school board 2 years ago

• If elected, what will be your top 3 priorities?

First, help complete a fair, progressive teachers contract. I’ve successfully negotiated numerous multi-year contracts with three different local unions.

Establish a clear line of communication from teachers and students with representatives to speak at board meetings.

Completely familiarize myself with current policies, financials and organizing to become an even greater school district.

• What do you see as the board’s role in the district and community? Should it have a role in the day-to-day operation of district schools?

The board’s role: to adopt and establish policy, ensure that policy is maintained and provide leadership. In the community, the board needs to create a positive district image with progressive understanding. The board shouldn’t have a day-to-day role. Daily problems should be on the board’s agenda to help lead and solve.

• Increased demand for resources and declining enrollments mean doing more with less. What school programs or services could be reduced or eliminated? What programs are underfunded and should be better supported?

I’m not sure any programs need to be reduced/eliminated. Reducing and eliminating programs would need a larger audience to decide. I’d want to know what students, teachers and community think. Most sports have own booster clubs/boards and fully fund themselves. The Nordic Ski Club is under-supported and underfunded.

• How would you promote better communication with parents, teachers and students about the board’s work?

Communication from students and teachers to the board is important and lacking. The board isn’t getting the details they need. I want representatives from each to present to the board. The board could have email for parents. Parents now have easy, convenient way to communicate with teachers through Remind App.

• Schools often share curriculum, essential services and programs with neighboring schools. What services should be shared with neighboring schools? Which neighboring districts should Hibbing be sharing with?

It’s something to look deeper into. As with surrounding schools, we could potentially gain more great athletes. Bussing could be coordinated, grouped into one contract to save money. With open enrollment school, we already send buses to other areas. We’d need to keep an open mind. It’d be an evolving scenario.

• A board member should be a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars. How would you work to keep the district financially strong now and in the future?

Looking into some reallocation of funds would be a start. I’d need to better understand what, where the district spends to help accomplish this. I’d watch spending and make sure we’re getting a good price on goods, services and construction. I’d make sure we’re getting a good return on investment.

• What is fair compensation for a board member?

I’d volunteer, as I have for the other boards. It’d be hard to receive compensation if I did a poor job or couldn’t accomplish goals. This might be a decision the people should vote for or at least lean in on. Most compensation coincides with performance and available funds.

• Hibbing is in the midst of complex teacher contract negotiations. What is your stance?

A fair contract is my top priority. My experience with negotiating contracts should help a great deal. I’ve negotiated multi-year contracts with local steelworkers, carpenters and roofers union. This should have been accomplished already. However, I am ready to help with and simplify these negotiations to get to an agreement.

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Paul Ciochetto

Paul Ciochetto

Address: Hibbing

Age: 41

Occupation: Information Systems Supervisor at Fairview Range and Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Hibbing Community College

Spouse/family: Wife, Amanda, and children: Autumn Stokes, 20; Ashley Ciochetto, 15; Taylor Ciochetto, 10; Henry Ciochetto, 2; Charlie Ciochetto, 1.

Memberships in organizations/clubs: HHS Track and Field Board, Blandin Community Leadership Program, Fairview Range Leadership Academy, Volunteer youth coach

Past experience as a candidate: None

• If elected, what will be your top 3 priorities?

1. Resolving the teachers’ contract by showing up to the negotiating table.

2. Maintaining and increasing educational opportunities for students through grants, other funding sources and collaborations.

3. Re-establishing trust of the school board by being transparent in communications with teachers, parents, students and members of the community.

• What do you see as the board’s role in the district and community? Should it have a role in the day-to-day operation of district schools?

The board’s role in the district is to set policy, within the community it’s to be transparent and available to listen to concerns. A board that’s functioning properly shouldn’t be involved in day-to-day operations. The superintendent runs the day-to-day operations and it’s the board’s job to hold him/her accountable.

• Increased demand for resources and declining enrollments mean doing more with less. What school programs or services could be reduced or eliminated? What programs are underfunded and should be better supported?

Before we talk about eliminating or reducing school programs, we should really focus on process improvement. Where can we find efficiencies that will bridge any funding gaps that there may be? You uncover this by talking to the teachers, coaches, students on the front lines.

• How would you promote better communication with parents, teachers and students about the board’s work?

I have been doing this even before I officially filed for election. Listening is the most important thing I can do to promote better communication. After that, it is asking questions and listening again. I want to hear what parents, teachers, students and members of the community have to say.

• Schools often share curriculum, essential services and programs with neighboring schools. What services should be shared with neighboring schools? Which neighboring districts should Hibbing be sharing with?

We’re seeing some great collaboration already with Habitat for Humanity with Hibbing and Chisholm, as well as the CNA program in collaboration with HCC funded by a grant from the Central Mesabi Medical Foundation. These partnerships where mutually beneficial to all parties involved. We must continue to find these opportunities.

• A board member should be a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars. How would you work to keep the district financially strong now and in the future?

We need to continue to pass a balanced budget. This is important to keep our bond rating, which allows us to borrow money at a lower rate. Additionally, we need to leverage new grant opportunities to fund initiatives. It is a true team effort to accomplish this.

• What is fair compensation for a board member?

I see the job of school board member as a call to service. Compensation is on the bottom of my priority list when it came to deciding if I would run or not. What is more important is the issues the district is currently facing.

• Hibbing is in the midst of complex teacher contract negotiations. What is your stance?

I’m fully expecting that the incumbents will find it best to reach an agreement. If not, it comes down to communication. Both sides need sit down with each other. We can settle this. Teachers are not the enemy. They have taught my children, and have done an excellent job.

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Shawn Cox

Shawn Cox

Address: Hibbing

Age: 42

Occupation: Instrumentation and Results Technician

Spouse/family: Wife, Melissa

Memberships in organizations/clubs: Proud member of AFSCME Local 94 Hibbing Public Utilities, Algonquin Club Member, AFSCME (American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees) PEOPLE (Public Employees Organized to Promote Legislative Equality) program MVP

Past experience as a candidate: Vice President, President of AFSCME Local 94

No political office

• If elected, what will be your top 3 priorities? 1

Resolve lack of a contract so the healing can begin. Open the lines of communication with the staff and the community to try and get rid of the stigma of “us against them.” Review the capital budget for 2019.

• What do you see as the board’s role in the district and community?

Setting goals and being fiscally responsible while keeping students first and the community’s best interest in mind.

• What do you see as the board’s role in the district and community? Should it have a role in the day-to-day operation of district schools?

Yes, but not micromanaging. They hire a superintendent to take care of that and should hold the superintendent accountable to the goals set by them, but should also be there to support and facilitate any needs.

• Increased demand for resources and declining enrollments mean doing more with less. What school programs or services could be reduced or eliminated? What programs are underfunded and should be better supported?

I would exhaust every effort to not cut any programs or services. I am unaware of any underfunded programs, but understand at times teachers must spend their own money for supplies and I want to fix that.

• How would you promote better communication with parents, teachers and students about the board’s work?

By having the meetings at a time when most could attend them and mailing or communication on progress made or issues that need to be addressed.

• Schools often share curriculum, essential services and programs with neighboring schools. What services should be shared with neighboring schools? Which neighboring districts should Hibbing be sharing with?

Anything we could help with we should with any neighboring communities we can. Putting our district at the forefront and making sure services to our students don’t lessen, then if we have anything extra we can give to assist any neighbors while ensuring quality education to students then we should.

• A board member should be a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars. How would you work to keep the district financially strong now and in the future?

Just by being fiscally responsible and look into increasing the efficiency of the schools to decrease overhead. Also being vigilant in seeking out any grants available.

• What is fair compensation for a board member?

If there is one student that has to go without a breakfast, lunch or even supper or without warm boots in the winter, then if they are being compensated financially it should be given back to students. If anyone disagrees, they should drop out from the race.

• Hibbing is in the midst of complex teacher contract negotiations. What is your stance?

If we expect our staff to keep our kids in the top percentile in testing and graduation, then we can’t be happy just trying to pay the median wage and less to get there.

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Anthony Kuznik

Anthony “Tony” Kuznik

Address: Hibbing

Age: No answer

Occupation: Retired President of Hibbing Community College

Spouse/family: Wife, Robin, and children: Anthony, Paul, Tanjya, Kelly and Anna

Memberships in organizations/clubs: Grant Reviewer, U.S. Dept. of Ed; St. Louis County Public Health and Social Services Committee; volunteer tutor at Lincoln School; Gideon's International; Hibbing Business Development Corporation; Chisholm Baptist Church

Past memberships: chair of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, Range Center Board, Hibbing Planning and Zoning Board, HRA and member of the Hibbing Chamber of Commerce

Past experience as a candidate: Served 9 years on the Hibbing School Board (presently, not a member).

• If elected, what will be your top 3 priorities?

1. Ensure that Hibbing schools has quality education for all students.

2. Ensure that the district will be run on a cost-effective basis.

3. To publicize the many good things that are happening in the district.

• What do you see as the board's role in the district and community? Should it have a role in the day-to-day operation?

The role is to provide positive leadership for education in the district. The board's success only comes through the work of administrators, faculty, staff and students. I do not believe in micro-management. However, the board is there when needed and other efforts have failed.

• Increased demand for resources and declining enrollments mean doing more with less. What school programs or services could be reduced or eliminated? What programs are underfunded and should be better supported?

Declining resources and enrollment are incorrect assumptions. Enrollment has stabilized, actually increased a little. I don’t plan on reducing or eliminating programs. That hurts students. I’d rather work on increasing enrollment. I’d like to increase volunteer tutoring under the supervision of our faculty. I tutor in Lincoln and it works.

• How would you promote better communication with parents, teachers and students about the board's work?

Change the meeting time to make the board more accessible to administration, faculty and students. Presently it meets when extracurricular activities take place. We publicize athletics quite successfully, but need to do the same with all activities and events. A regular newspaper column might aid the efforts on the website.

• Schools often share curriculum, essential services and programs with neighboring schools. What services should be shared with neighboring schools? Which neighboring districts should Hibbing be sharing with?

Hibbing has shared extracurricular programs with VCA and Chisholm. I believe that busing is a possibility. I'd love to have sharing of academic programs with Keewatin, Nashwauk and Chisholm. But this calls for a neighboring school with an interest. This may not be reality.

• A board member should be a good steward of taxpayers' dollars. How would you work to keep the district financially strong now and in the future?

In my years on the board, we always maintained a healthy reserve. I did the same at the college. It means you have a plan for budgetary expenditures and a conservative, careful attitude about making unplanned expenditures.

• What is fair compensation for a board member?

Anyone concerned about compensation for a board member is running for the wrong reason.

• Hibbing is in the midst of complex teacher contract negotiations. What is your stance?

It would be inappropriate to take a stance while negotiations are taking place. In addition, one needs information on the district's financial situation, the reserves (including earmarks), comparisons of our faculty salaries with state averages, and how the proposed raise compares with those schools who have agreed upon contracts, etc.

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Marge Martin

Marge Martin

Address: Side Lake

Age: Sixty-plus

Occupation: Educator

Spouse/family: Single

Memberships in organizations/clubs: Minnesota State College Faculty Association, American Society of Clinical Pathologists, American Association of Snowboard Instructors, Hibbing Curling Club, Hibbing Muni Women’s Golf League

Past experience as a candidate: first time

• If elected, what will be your top 3 priorities?

Make 1 of the 2 monthly board meetings a working session, where issues can be discussed in-depth, finding better solutions and working for the greater good. Consider a public relations/communications project to enhance and strengthen communications, trust and transparency. Consider creating a human resources position for ISD 701.

• What do you see as the board’s role in the district and community? Should it have a role in the day-to-day operation of district schools?

The school board’s role is to establish a vision reflective of the community values and needs, make policies, set goals and monitor the progress and hire, direct and evaluate the superintendent. The school board should not have a role in day-to-day operations.

• Increased demand for resources and declining enrollments mean doing more with less. What school programs or services could be reduced or eliminated? What programs are underfunded and should be better supported?

It is always difficult to cut or eliminate school programs that have been implemented for good reasons. The reasons for being should be periodically reviewed and evaluated. Social/emotional/mental health needs for students should be better funded and supported through coordinated efforts of community professionals and school counselors.

• How would you promote better communication with parents, teachers and students about the board’s work?

Listen, ask questions and observe in order to understand the concerns of the parents, the teachers, and the students. Then, take this information and integrate it into the board’s goals. Effective communications are difficult in these times of multiple and fractured media. This question reflects priority No. 2 as listed above.

• Schools often share curriculum, essential services and programs with neighboring schools. What services should be shared with neighboring schools? Which neighboring districts should Hibbing be sharing with?

The most important aspect of sharing with neighboring schools is to establish open and effective communications between the districts at both the board and administrative levels. Exploring together opens possibilities of greater opportunities for students and cost reductions. All neighboring districts should be considered.

• A board member should be a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars. How would you work to keep the district financially strong now and in the future?

Education has been underfunded in Minnesota for years, thus presenting a daunting task to districts. ISD 701’s educational system needs to continually look at ways to change, modify current practices to reduce costs. It’s the fiduciary responsibility of the board to maintain funds to endure unexpected economic downturns and hardships.

• What is fair compensation for a board member?

As far as I am concerned, it could be all volunteer or a nominal amount per meeting ($30).

• Hibbing is in the midst of complex teacher contract negotiations. What is your stance?

I certainly support collective bargaining. I think we should consider lobbying our state legislators to set contract settlement deadlines. It is unfortunate that this issue has extended into the election process.

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Kathy Nyberg

Kathy Nyberg

Address: Hibbing

Age: 59

Occupation: Recently retired from Hibbing Community College where I was a part-time Employment Skills teacher and a Federal Grant Coordinator

Spouse/family: Spouse, Bob; ihildren: Nicole (Matthew) Anderson, Melissa (Matthew) Erickson, Christine (Alex) Gornick; and 5 grandchildren

Memberships in organizations/clubs: Board Member Guardian Angels & Heritage Manor Nursing Homes; past member American Association of University Women; Hibbing Business & Education Partnership Comm.; past involvement as board member Hibbing Parents Nursery School, Washington Elementary PTO, HHS Girls Hoop Club, Hibbing Youth Basketball; served as community member on school district Restructuring Committee and Mission/Vision Committee.

Past experience as a candidate: Currently finishing a 4-year term on the Hibbing School Board

• If elected, what will be your top 3 priorities?

Maintain/continue improving Hibbing’s excellent educational system.

Increase/improve mental health support to students, address adverse childhood experiences and poverty, support them so they come to school ready to learn.

To improve early childhood education programming to better accommodate schedules of working parents, provide transportation to all students, and ensure adequate classroom space.

• What do you see as the board’s role in the district and community? Should it have a role in the day-to-day operation of district schools?

A board member should learn as much as possible about the district, listen to principals/administrators and teacher concerns. Then listen to community members and respond. Day-to-day operations, with the exception of major emergencies, should be left to the principals/administrators. Trust our principals/administrators and let them work.

• Increased demand for resources and declining enrollments mean doing more with less. What school programs or services could be reduced or eliminated? What programs are underfunded and should be better supported?

We’re financially strong, have no plans to reduce or eliminate programs/services in the near future. A top priority is to keep Hibbing financially strong, keeping in mind it’s taxpayer money.

We rely mainly on state funds and federal grant money, always looking for other local grant opportunities.

• How would you promote better communication with parents, teachers and students about the board’s work?

I’d love to see more parents and community members at meetings, and encourage public comment at meetings. Ideas for improving communication: board meeting reminders in Friday Folders, board minutes and announcements published more prominently on website, hold listening and discussions sessions, and use more auto phone calls/texts to communicate with parents.

• Schools often share curriculum, essential services and programs with neighboring schools. What services should be shared with neighboring schools? Which neighboring districts should Hibbing be sharing with?

Coordinating with Chisholm and Nashwauk to offer more technical skill classes, possibly in a joint center. Offer more college credit classes using a video classroom. This would benefit many students and increase choices. Work with these districts so schedules are the same and teacher contracts allow us to collaborate.

• A board member should be a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars. How would you work to keep the district financially strong now and in the future?

Every dollar is a public taxpayer’s dollar. When I feel taxpayers would agree to an expenditure that will maintain/improve the district, I will approve it. If connected directly to improving student learning, I’m likely to support it. I believe in a healthy fund balance, and in spending dollars when necessary.

• What is fair compensation for a board member?

I believe that the current $300 stipend per month is fair compensation for a board member considering the time and effort that is required of this position.

• Hibbing is in the midst of complex teacher contract negotiations. What is your stance?

Hibbing has the best teachers and I want to keep it that way. We want to attract top teachers, and to do that we need to remain at the very top in pay and benefits in NE Minnesota. Teachers are an invaluable asset. I hope this contract is settled soon.

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Jeff Polcher

Jeff Polcher

Address: Hibbing

Age: 62

Occupation: Social Worker for St. Louis County

Spouse/family: Wife, Debbie; three children: Nicole Polcher Anderson, Amy Polcher and Robert Polcher; and four grandchildren: Olivia Davis, Jon and Alex Anderson and Addy Polcher.

Memberships in organizations/clubs: Member of AFSCME for 30 years

Past experience as a candidate: Served on the school board 2008-2016. Recently appointed to fill a vacancy

• If elected, what will be your top 3 priorities?

Update our current strategic plan. Last updated in 2011, the plan should be examined yearly.

Assuring the district has a sound financial plan. A healthy budget allows a district to weather the ups and downs of our state and local economies. School based social workers or increased mental health services.

• What do you see as the board’s role in the district and community? Should it have a role in the day-to-day operation of district schools?

We are leaders of the district. Supporting our admin team and staff is critical. I don’t really feel that board has a role in the day-to-day school business. We have a very competent admin team responsible for the daily operation. The board’s is primarily responsible for setting budgets and policies.

• Increased demand for resources and declining enrollments mean doing more with less. What school programs or services could be reduced or eliminated? What programs are underfunded and should be better supported?

Make decisions about reducing programs is difficult. Looking for alternative funding sources or partnering with other districts is always an option. Cutting/reducing any programs requires a deep look at budgets and examining numerous options. Special education funding is always underfunded. Needs have become more complex, funding hasn’t kept up with demand.

• How would you promote better communication with parents, teachers and students about the board’s work?

We’re arranging to have a student representative on the board. Shifting the board meetings to 4 p.m. allows more people to attend. We have a good school website that’s updated regularly. Use of the district wide phone notification system allows the schools to instantly get important messages to parents.

• Schools often share curriculum, essential services and programs with neighboring schools. What services should be shared with neighboring schools? Which neighboring districts should Hibbing be sharing with?

We have a long-term relationship with Chisholm related to sports. We should explore options to expand that. Sharing on an academic level: both districts operate on a different schedule so it’s challenging to arrange the sharing of classes. The possible expansion of telepresence classes will allow increased access for students.

• A board member should be a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars. How would you work to keep the district financially strong now and in the future?

One of the primary responsibilities of a board member is to assure the district’s financial stability. Having an understanding of school finance and working with the district business manager is critical. Maintaining a healthy budget surplus will allow us to ride out the lean years without having to slash services.

• What is fair compensation for a board member?

Currently board members are paid $300/month. I think this is very fair.

• Hibbing is in the midst of complex teacher contract negotiations. What is your stance?

The past 1.5 years has been stressful for union members and the board/administration. I’m optimistic this will be resolved soon. As a long-term union member, I appreciate the hard work of ALL of staff and hope to resolve this with a fair contract that’s respectful to staff.

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Joseph Sacco

Joseph Sacco

Address: Hibbing

Age: 51

Occupation: Rubber liner at Iracore International, Bus Driver at Shubat Transportation

Spouse/family: Cindi, and children: Thomas, Zack, Lola, Jenna, Opal

Memberships in organizations/clubs: Iron Range Off-Road Cyclists, Iron Range FatBike Riders, originator of The Pie Burner Thanksgiving Weekend FatBike Ride

Past experience as a candidate: None

• If elected, what will be your top 3 priorities?

Children safety, bullying, mental health. Look at scaling back iPad use, avoiding "electronic screen syndrome.”

Teacher and staff continuing education, accountability, furthering the curriculum for betterment of the district. Bring back department heads.

Administration accountability, yearly performance reviews. Improving communication throughout the district.

• What do you see as the board’s role in the district and community? Should it have a role in the day-to-day operation of district schools?

Common sense needs to be brought back to the board, quickly. Transparency and the ability to communicate with the community is the goal, which hasn’t been met or approached in years. The board is a group of elected citizens; it should start acting as such. No day to day.

• Increased demand for resources and declining enrollments mean doing more with less. What school programs or services could be reduced or eliminated? What programs are underfunded and should be better supported?

Can we really reduce or eliminate programs while giving youth the best education possible?

We could cut funding to sports — hockey, basketball, football, pick another? We could cut all admin salaries by $20,000, passing that money onto “the arts.” Math, theatre, band and so forth ... did that get your attention?

• How would you promote better communication with parents, teachers and students about the board’s work?

Move board meeting times to 6 or 7 p.m. Give a 30-minute block of time prior to every meeting for public comments, for a true back and forth. Have student representatives sit in on board meetings once a month, or as their schedules allow. Bring back department heads.

• Schools often share curriculum, essential services and programs with neighboring schools. What services should be shared with neighboring schools? Which neighboring districts should Hibbing be sharing with?

I’m not aware how or what ISD 701 is currently sharing. Hibbing is the largest district on the Range, we should be sharing. Of course, our sharing should come with a price. I mean after all, for years now, all school districts have become businesses ... Chisholm, Cherry, MIB, G/N-K.

• A board member should be a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars. How would you work to keep the district financially strong now and in the future?

I think the business manager has the pulse of district finances well under control. I would take my cues from him, but would not be afraid to question something I thought needs further explanation.

• What is fair compensation for a board member?

Keep whatever monetary amount there is, or cut it in half. If there’s any benefits above the monetary amount, it should be stopped immediately. As I’ve stated, I have no agendas. I’m seeking a seat for the betterment of everyone but myself. To me, this is common sense.

• Hibbing is in the midst of complex teacher contract negotiations. What is your stance?

Complex? The teachers have been 400-plus days without a new contract. These people are the foundations with which our future rests on. You take care of the important parts. Teachers make learning happen. In addition to this question, I’d ask why is the AFSCME union being ignored? Common sense.

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