When I first heard a district administrator say, “Those Charter Schools are taking our students,” I almost hit the floor. And then I got mad. A school district does not own the kids in the district. A district may hope and expect local kids to attend the schools, but certainly has no right to them. It’s no secret parents have many choices for the education of their children. Approximately 25% of them in ISD 279 are currently taking advantage of those choices which include:
- Open enrollment into another district
- A magnet school (ISD 279 has several)
- A charter school
- A private school
- An online charter or private school
- Home school
Parents and students have every right to make the choice for themselves on where they attend school based on their wants, needs, and desires for their educational experience. And they should. Competition for students should drive our district to better understand the issues and develop programs or make changes that will address their concerns. Building a better product to meet customer needs is what is done every day outside of the world of education. It is time that school districts adopt that mindset. Do you want more students? Do you want to attract the best students? Do you want to keep the ones you have or continue to lose families to other school choices? The answer is simple. Build a better product.
The School Board kicked off an updated Strategic Plan earlier this year. While some have tried to focus on political or societal issues, I am trying to develop a plan that addresses and stays focused on curricular, safety, school environment, and other needs that have been highly ranked by parents. Parents want what is best for their children, and if we don’t provide it, they will look or move elsewhere to find it.
We have many thousands more residents living in our district than we have parents of current students, yet every vote matters just the same. I hear far too many times when speaking with residents that, “My kids have graduated, so I don’t pay much attention to the school board,” or “I don’t have kids yet, so I am not involved.”
We can do better than this!. First, if you are retired or working, whether you are in an apartment, your dream home, or a retirement abode, you pay taxes. I firmly believe that if you pay, you need to have your say.
The decisions being made today will affect your grandkids or future children. Do you want to live in a district that delivers a strong educational curriculum to all students and expects nothing less than excellence from early childhood education all the way through high school and adult learning? Or do you want a district who misses the mark and plays the blame game for who is at fault? I prefer excellence, and I know you do too.
I’ve learned through the years that the residents of this district have many skills and resources that could be used to support our students. Retired? Come out and volunteer at a school during the day. And if your local school receives plenty of parental support, find a school in the district that needs assistance and contact their volunteer coordinator. They’d be so grateful, and you’d be surprised at how much you get back from the experience!. Engineering skills? Come out to support our popular Robotics programs at our three comprehensive high schools. Business skills? Volunteer at the high schools during mock Interviews.
There are plenty of opportunities to be involved, and we need the support of everyone to be successful. You are not just a resident, you are a member of the ISD 279 family!
I was involved in our school district for several years prior to being elected to the school board. I attended board meetings, wrote letters, and volunteered in the schools.
Since becoming a board member, I have visited schools, attended PTO meetings, participated in scores of Turkey Bingos and Spring Flings, cheered for our sports teams, and applauded our student musicians. I’ve seen all of these experiences as valuable opportunities to meet and talk with parents to better understand their concerns and desires for their child’s education.
Along with performing my duties as a Director and Board Chair, I have continued to stay involved with our community groups, religious organizations, and business across our district. I’ve seen these groups help drive support to our schools through their volunteerism, donations, and the creation of jobs for our students and alumni.
You may or may not know, we have an exceptional automotive technician program at Osseo Senior High. Recently, I was at an auto dealer having my car worked on. I asked a technician how they found their new employees. He stated that they worked with local technical colleges and programs. I mentioned our great program at Osseo and asked if he would consider reaching out to our students. Turns out, this guy was the lead tech for the dealership and lived walking distance to OSH. He followed up on his promise to connect, and the dealership recently donated a tire repair station to the program! No one had ever asked him before.
I attended the Maple Grove city council meeting when the approval was given to build the new Portillo’s Restaurant. The CEO of Portillo’s was in attendance and I introduced myself and told him about the innovative food service program that we have at Park Center Senior High. He connected me to his VP of Human Resources and I provided her information regarding the program and the training that our students receive. Always good to see new jobs created for our students and residents.
I was talking to several acquaintances when I mentioned that one of our Robotics teams was looking for additional mentor support. One said “Mike, you do know that I installed hundreds of industrial robots in my career?” Well, I did not, or would have reached out sooner. He has now spent five years mentoring our students and is a great asset to the team and to the district.
I will talk to anyone, at any time, to share information about the programs and opportunities we offer in the Osseo Area Schools. Our students are doing great things and deserve all the help and recognition we can give them! Get involved.
What are your qualifications for this office?
I am an engineer with an MBA. I’ve held leadership roles in global companies, and worked in and mentored start-ups for the past 10 years. Business skills are critical to guide an organization with a $350M budget, 3,000 staff, 21,000 students, and 150,000 residents. As board chair I helped lead the search for our new Superintendent, was involved in the creation of a district facilities improvement and expansion plan, and am guiding the formation of the district’s new and updated strategic plan.
What do you hope to accomplish in office?
My goal is for Osseo Area Schools to provide an excellent education, to every student, in every classroom, in every school, in every community in the district.
I want to fully open our schools as soon as possible in a safe manner.
I want to ensure that our facilities improvement and expansion plan is realized.
I want to complete and implement our district’s new strategic plan.
I want to improve our technical education programs.
I want to do all this in a fiscally sound and responsible manner
Tomorrow is the first day of school. It is certainly not how I would prefer to do it. Will there be hiccups? Of course. Will they be resolved? Eventually. Will there be tears? Most certainly. Parents, please have the grace and patience to help your children the best you can to establish strong bonds with their teachers. You are their strongest advocate. And please support our teachers as they guide our students through this process and help them create a positive experience. Thank you.
I am seeking your vote and your support as I run for my second term as a member of the Independent School District #279 Osseo Area Schools school board. This is not an easy job and a responsibility that I do not take lightly. After thoughtful consideration of the needs of the the board and the needs of the district I decided to run four years ago. After my successful election I was deeply grateful for the support of the community and I hope that my performance over the past three and half years has given you the trust to support me again on or before November 3, 2020. Issues will be discussed in this blog, and a list of significant concerns are located under About Mike Ostaffe. I am not a single issue candidate, and this is not a stepping stone to a county or state position. It is about providing professional, rational, thoughtful, and respectful governance leadership to the administration of District 279 so that they can provide an excellent education to each and every student in the district.
How we open schools is the biggest issue on everyone’s mind at the moment. Students, Parents, Teachers, Administration, MDE, MDH, CDC, and the Governor all have their opinions. I acknowledge that each and every person has concerns that are very important to them. The education and safety of our students and staff are of paramount concern. As we work through the opening plans within the guidelines and limits placed upon us by the Governor, I promise that I will thoughtfully and respectfully listen to and weigh the opinions of all affected groups. We will have differing opinions at times, but I promise to address them in a professional, respectful, and rational manner. The latest information from the school district can be found here.
I wanted to send a big thank you to everyone who voted for me, and a big thanks to all the candidates, and all the voters, for participating in this School Board election. There are many schools, groups, communities, and residents in our district, and I was elected to represent every one of you.
There are many people to thank for helping me in my effort. First, my wife who put up with me being gone so much over the past two and a half months, and my children who were roped into literature distribution and who had to deal with all of their friends asking questions about me.
I would like to thank my friend Patrick Stuart for his strategy insights and his video skills, tech skills, and steady hand, without whom I would have made many more mistakes than I did.
I would like to thank my friends who knocked on doors, distributed literature, emailed and told their friends about me, put up signs, and who were so instrumental in getting my name out there.
I would like to thank the organizations and elected officials who publicly supported me. And I would like to thank those who donated to my campaign, because signs, literature and facebook ads do not grow on trees.
The election was the easy part. Now we have plenty of work to do. I look forward to working with the current board members, my newly elected colleagues, and with the Administration and Teachers. Most importantly, I look forward to working with and hearing from you, the residents of our District. As I have said many times, I will listen.
Again, thank you for your support.
Parental involvement in a child’s education is one of the largest predictors of future success. We must create and support programs and opportunities for all parents to actively participate in their childrens’ education.