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Editor’s note: Below are Sioux Falls school board candidate

Sarah Anderson’s answers to the Argus Leader’s Q&A on Friday,


May 10, 2019, as submitted.
Are you a registered voter? Yes
What political party are you affiliated with? Democrat
Have you ever run for an elected position before? If so, what
position and when? No, but I have enjoyed the process and am
grateful to have the opportunity to potentially serve and play a
role in the education and social well-being of the children in our
school district.
Have you ever held an elected position or served on a
governing board before? If so, what position and for how long?
No
What made you decide to run for the Sioux Falls school board
this May? The learning climate has become intolerable for
many of our children and I believe our school board can be
more proactive in meeting challenges and more creative in
finding solutions to problems we face. I am running to affect
change and implement new policies to mitigate bullying, to
increase pubic, parent and student participation in the decision
making processes, to establish and advance more public-private
partnerships and to bring more innovation to the way the
school board works.
What makes you the best-qualified person to represent Sioux
Falls taxpayers in this capacity? I am the newcomer to the
political process, but this is exactly what is needed now. Not
being influenced by the local governing experiences of those
now serving and running to serve is an asset. I will bring a
needed new perspective along with a positive, proactive
agenda to improve the education and learning experiences of
our young people here in the Sioux Falls School District.
I stand apart because I have a specific agenda and an action
plan to carry out that agenda. I’m not running to reiterate what
Sioux Falls schools need; I’m running to make things happen.
What do you want to accomplish if you’re elected? I have
published a straightforward, common sense agenda on my
Sarah Anderson for Sioux Falls School Board Facebook page,
and I provide the specific actions I will take to mitigate bullying,
to increase pubic, parent and student participation in the
decision making processes, to establish and advance more
public-private partnerships and to bring more innovation to the
way the school board works. My plan of action includes
adopting best practices working elsewhere, being more
innovative and better utilizing the technology we have to find
and implement those best practices as well as proposing policy
changes to that which now limits public, parent and student
participation.
What would you say are the most important issues facing the
largest school district in the state today? The most important
issue I am hearing from parents is the day-to-day social and
mental health of our kids, and specifically, the problem of
bullying, which is why this is a primary focus of my platform and
the inspiration behind the cool2bkind hashtag on my campaign
signs.
My platform is focused on what I believe are the most
important issues facing the Sioux Falls school district. In
addition to bullying, the lack of public input and participation is
a problem we can fix. We can solve many problems by
increasing the number of public-private partnerships between
our school system and private businesses invested in our
future; and by using modern tools like social media, virtual
meeting technologies and accessing resources online, we can
accomplish more for less, saving money in the process, and we
can achieve success more efficiently.
How do you plan on advocating for the district’s most
vulnerable if you’re elected?
More direct, hands-on engagement by policymakers will make a
big difference, and if I am elected, I will lead by example and be
hands-on. By building relationships with parents, teachers and
other stakeholders in our future, we can find and implement
best practices in utilization of special education services, such
as EIP and 504 plans.
I support a more proactive approach to securing federal
funding for those who need it; this will empower us to better
meet the needs of the most vulnerable, to include students
with special needs and home-schooled children — all can
benefit from more federal funding, which is more likely to
increase if we get more proactive, as I propose.
But in addition to the straightforward platform I am advancing,
I intend to carry the initiative farther. For example, I would like
to see telemedicine brought to all of our Title 1 schools. My
background in the healthcare industry positions me quite well
to help navigate the way. We currently have three Title 1
schools with clinics on site that could potentially be the base for
these services to other lower income schools.

How do you plan to help maintain the fiscal responsibility of the


school district in your role as a school board member? By doing
more work in-house and by increasing efficiencies, both of
which are part of my platform. We don’t need to expend our
monies and limited resources on consultants who will use the
Internet and Facetime to engage experts and find what works
elsewhere. We can do this; we have the tools; we can find and
implement best practices ourselves if we are willing to use the
technologies we have, to roll up our sleeves and to do the
work. Looking for efficiencies, educational innovation
opportunities, seeking cooperative purchase agreements with
other school districts. Investigate other cost sharing with
neighboring school districts and thinking outside the box. We
will have to be diligent with the large bonds we hold and hope
to keep the interest down and refinance if possible down the
road.

As a health care professional working in a virtual environment


and electronic office space, it is clear to me we can do more
with a more innovative approach to finding solutions for our
growing challenges. This can be achieved by being more
proactive and less reactive, such as has been the case with
diversifying our specialty schools. Bottom line, a proactive,
hands-on approach is more efficient and results in a cost
savings by consequence.

What experience do you have handling bond issues? Zero. And


that may not be such a bad thing. Again, we need a fresh, new
perspective to how we are doing business. I am doing my bond
issue homework now. I will continue and study hard to learn
the best ways bond issues are handled by school
administrations across the country; and then I’ll advocate for
the handling of bond issues in that way.
If elected, how do you plan to help the district oversee the rest
of the $190 million bond projects, outside of the new middle
school and new high school? By being fiscally conservative and
responsible, as I am at home as a single mom with two children
in our public schools. The bonds should cover all aspects of the
proposed plan and minimize the interest paid by completing
the projects on time and on budget. I will advocate for more
due diligence when it comes to whom we entrust with these
tax dollars, and this includes increasing transparency in the bid
process and shedding more daylight upon those who are
awarded construction contracts.
In the length of a Tweet -- 280 characters or less-- give readers
your hot take on the following school district issues parents are
concerned about the most (I’ve attached our most
comprehensive articles on each topic to help, if needed):
Arts are the fuel of innovation, which is the success of our
future. These proposed scheduling changes would negatively
affect the social, mental health and education of our students.
Trimming fine arts class time to make elementary schedules
less chaotic (https://bit.ly/2DCxKOs)
- Creating haves and have-nots when attendance
boundaries are redrawn within the next couple of years to
accommodate schools built under the $190 million bond
(https://bit.ly/2LbpfAs )
- Having to make budget cuts for things that are “nice to
have,” but not necessary because the state hasn’t held up
to its side of education funding reform
(https://bit.ly/2Lbko24 )
Is there anything you would like to acknowledge about your
past that might affect your ability to do the job?
Is there anything you feel the public needs to know about you
that they may not?