The District 833 School Board has been good a steward of taxpayer money, said Ron Kath, who is running for his third and final four-year term on the board.
Budget cuts are ahead for next year, he said in an interview. Without talking about specific programs that might be cut, the board has a "solid process" when putting a budget together, that allows the school board to weigh the pros and cons.
For one department a year, Kath advocates using a "zero budget" approach in that the budget would start with zero, looking closely at each spending item as it's added to the budget.
Kath supports renewing existing taxpayer approved referendums but doesn't favor a new referendum for more money to operate schools. "That's one of the decisions facing the board next year," he said.
With a district strategic plan goal of making continuous improvement, programs that aren't productive should be eliminated, he said.
"I support 'choice' programs," Kath said, regarding the Spanish language immersion program. But he also supports neighborhood schools such as the traditional program that is housed alongside the immersion program at Crestview Elementary School.
He would look at expanding the program if there were somewhere else to house it and "if we have the funding."
"Knowing a second language gives student a competitive advantage," he said.
Parents of immersion students were correct, he said, in asking the district for a program for their children in middle and high school. "We shouldn't be doing things piecemeal and should have had a plan."
Principal Linda Plante is doing a good job, he said, to develop courses for immersion students at Woodbury High School.
Kath supports the basic concept of the federal No Child Left Behind law, but it's an unfunded mandate. "I don't need the federal government telling us our kids should be achieving. That's why I'm on the School Board. Student achievement is what we're about."
Some states set low achievement bars so schools don't get put on the list of schools "not making adequate progress," but Minnesota set the bar high, he said.
The district is going to have to live within its means, he said. One way to support money for education is to build the business tax base.
City: Cottage Grove
Education: Bachelor's degree from University of St. Thomas
Occupation: Director of account planning for Schwan's consumer brands
Spouse name: Wife, Katie; one son who attends the University of Wisconsin-River Falls