Phil St. Ores

1. Why are you running for the school board? In your opinion, what is the most important role of a board member?

I want to bring the focus back to academics.  The continued decline of District 834’s academic performance is negatively affecting the future of our young, I am running to help this.  The board member’s most important role is to bring decision making back to academic performance.

2. Why are you seeking our endorsement? What does the endorsement of our unions mean to you personally?

I am seeking your endorsement to improve the union’s standing in the community by supporting a candidate whose focus is raising academic performance.   By endorsing me we would establish a better working relationship to solve our academic challenges.

3. How has your racial identity shaped and informed your world view? How are you actively working to expand your own racial and cultural lens?

As a technical executive of advanced, science based, global corporations by 31 years old I established and led cross cultural, highly diverse and cross functional teams.   I have never thought about expanding my racial and cultural lens given everyone I worked with, and hired, was a high performer.   After all, poverty and the lack of education is the great divide.

4. As described by the Minnesota School Boards Association, what does governance mean to you in terms of board work and the role of the school board members?

I have created governance methodologies many times during my career to support the massive transformational programs I have led, usually after others have failed.   Trust, communication, integrity are a few of the characteristics needed to form high functioning organizations.  The board work and the role of the school board members should always work together, even when they disagree.  The board must consider all constituents in its operations.

5. What has been your personal involvement or knowledge regarding unions and collective bargaining? How would you, as a school board member, interact with union leadership?

I have been a union member, a shop steward, a labor contract negotiator on the union side.  The work life most people take for granted was fought for by unions: 40-hour work week, child labor laws, safe working conditions are a few of the rights unions created.  Union leadership and the board would work together more often – not just around contract time or elections.

6. Share examples of systemic and institutional racism that you have experienced or observed in Stillwater public schools. How will you work toward dismantling those barriers?

I know of no systemic or institutional racism in Stillwater public schools. Given this question has been has been asked for years, I would expect your previously endorsed candidates should have addressed it by now.   If there is racism, I will address it promptly as a board member.  

7. How do you think decisions should be made that impact curriculum, assessment, staffing, and school management? What are the roles of teachers, paraprofessionals, and administration in these decisions? What is the role of the school board in these decisions?

There is an organizational structure in place – it should be used.  If it is not functioning properly then the organizational structure should be fixed.  Teachers should play a large role in curriculum and assessment.  School boards should help set goals and monitor to see all is running properly, fairly and the district is attaining their goals.

8. How do you define collaboration? What would collaboration among your fellow board members look like to you?

Collaboration is mutual respect.  It is core to establishing high functioning organizations.  Trust lines are necessary for excellent collaboration.  Assuming good intentions is necessary for trust lines.  Communication is necessary for everything.

9. What steps would you take to actively work on trust-building with each of these groups? a) District administration; b) District staff including paraprofessionals, custodians, food service workers, counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, secretaries, school bus drivers, early childhood educational assistants, community education staff, technology support staff, nurses, and teachers; c) District students and families, including racially, culturally, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse students and families; d) Fellow board members; e) Our community at large.

I would speak with all groups on a regular basis.  No weak links in the chain – all groups must be listened to.   No rocket science here.  Given I have been recognized numerous times with team building awards – I am confident to improve the trust lines.

10. Describe current and future initiatives that you feel are priorities for our district.

Academics, Academics, Academics.   No bullying at all – ever – to anyone, no unfair treatment of any district members, all voices heard, I would like to hear what the teachers say will help the students – on a regular basis.

11. Thinking about the next five years, there are bound to be economic challenges facing public education in Minnesota and in our district. How do you propose to address these economic challenges?

Given the present mood of the district, raising money without raising academics would be very difficult.   Hence, we need to raise academic performance.   Otherwise more parents will pull their children from out district – not what we want to happen.   

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