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Thank you!

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.


Our Teachers

Our teachers are the foundation of District 279. Over the past several years there have been many new programs created by the District Administration and approved by the Board that have had significant impact on them, their classrooms, and their ability to teach our children. These include School closings and realignments, standards-based grading, iPads for all, grade span changes, cultural training, and curriculum changes. Many of these programs have been implemented in haste without the proper training that our professionals need to understand and use their new tools and ideas in the classroom.

As a Board member I would like to better understand these programs before they are implemented. I will ensure that we have clearly established goals for success. And I will demand that all  professionals be given the time and opportunity to be fully trained in order to be successful.


Exercise (your vote)

You have many rights as a citizen.  The one that has the biggest impact on you and your future and your community is your right to vote. According to reports about 500,000 Minnesotans have already voted.  The lines will still be long oni-voted Tuesday so get out there early.   It is time to elect a new board member with the leadership, financial, collaboration, and strategic skills needed to help set the direction of our $300,000,000, 22,000 student, 3000+ employee School District. Please vote for Mike Ostaffe for the Osseo School Board. Thank you.


CEPAC Candidate Forum

On October 24th The Community Education Program of District 279 held a candidate forum for all 10 candidates for school board.  Here are my opening remarks, answers to six questions, and my closing remarks. To see additional videos please visit my YouTube channel OstaffeFor279.  Please vote for me, Mike Ostaffe, on or before November 8th.  Thank you.


Candidate Profile in the Maple Grove Voice

From the Maple Grove Voice Election Article

From the Maple Grove Voice Election Article

I was recently asked to answer five questions for the School Board candidate profile published by the Maple Grove Voice.

  • What is your professional/personal background as it relates to the Osseo School District/School Board?
  • Why are you running for office?
  • How do you feel you can make an impact by serving on the Osseo School District School Board?
  • What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the school district?
  • What would you like voters/community members to know about you?

My responses are here.

 


Rebuilding

In sports many fans will take solace in a losing season by stating that it was a “rebuilding year” for the team and better things are in the future. Well, we are in a rebuilding year on the Osseo School Board. We must use this election as an opportunity to build a new, cohesive, collaborative team on the Board. There were two new members elected two years ago (supporters Bob Gerhart and Jessica Craig), Dean Henke, a long-time Director and well-respected member is stepping down this year, and two incumbents are up for re-election, including one who has served eight years. It is time to build a new team that can focus on the needs of the entire District, and all of our students. I understand the time commitment and the level of effort required to do this job well, and am willing to serve our communities. Please vote for me on or before November 8th. For more information, please view my videos . Thank you.


This is a(nother) Test

Today all parents received an email from Superintendent Maguire announcing the upcoming Student Stakeholder Survey tests to be administered in November. While I am not a fan of non-academic testing, collecting data to measure your progress against specific goals can be very useful. In this case, it is not the testing that I have issue with, but rather the fact these non-academic tests will be given during instructional time in the classroom. Thereslider 1 are over 40 questions in this study. Since these will be given on each student’s iPad (for which we are spending millions of dollars), I asked the District Director of Assessment why the students were losing important class time when they could complete these voluntarily on their own time during study hall, lunch, or at home (flexibility being one of the big selling features of iPads for all). The answer, stripped down, was basically that if given outside the classroom not enough kids would complete it. However, in the classroom, it will still be voluntary; kids can open their iPads and ignore the test, give it all ones or tens, or complete some homework. If we have these expensive tools, we should be using them to enhance the learning experience and achievement, not just replacing tablet paper with an expensive electronic tablet and using the same tired processes.

As for more information on the testing, according to Superintendent Maguires’ email you can “access a summary of the testing results (which includes sample questions) here. More detailed results are available here.”

“The survey is voluntary. You may also choose to have your son or daughter not take the survey by completing and returning an opt-out form.

For those concerned about the amount of testing, it does look like District 279 may be better than some when it comes to voluntary tests. Here is a link to the assessment plan and testing schedule for 2016-2017 as it currently stands.


Inside (Osseo) Scoop

I want to thank Principal Brian Chance of Osseo Middle School and Principal Michael Lehan of Osseo Senior High School for meeting with me over the past few days and giving me a tour of their buildings. Both are very passionate Principals who are making a positive impact on their schools.  I was impressed with the changes they are trying to make at their respective schools, and enjoyed discussing their focus on improving achievement and educational opportunity for all students.

It was also good to discuss with Mr. Lehan our shared concern that for 5000+ District residents Osseo District 279 is not their choice of school system.  We need to listen to the needs our of students and parents and design educational options that work for a broader range of students.  Past Administration and Board decisions helped to push them out.   There are many good competitive schools that are drawing our students for many reasons.  Other Public School Districts, Public Charter Schools Districts, Private Schools, Private Parochial Schools, and Home Schools are all viable options for many parents. With over 20% of our potential student population going elsewhere, we need to develop programs that will excite, capture, and keep more of those students within Osseo schools.

I have been contacting and speaking with Principals across the District.  All seemed surprised that a School Board Candidate actually wanted to come and visit and seek their input.  That is unfortunate.

If you have questions that you want me to ask District Principals, please send me an email through the contact link.


Questions and Answers

Below is a video compilation of my answers during  the Osseo District 279 School Board Candidate Forum hosted by the League of Women Voters and North Hennepin Area Chamber of Commerce.

I was asked the following 11 questions during the Candidate Forum last Thursday.

GIVEN TO CANDIDATES IN ADVANCE
1) Please tell us about your background and previous school district involvement that support your candidacy for this position.

2) Do you feel the district is doing a good job of educating it’s students and preparing them for post-secondary education or for entry into the workforce?  Why or why not?

3) Do you believe District #279 is performing well in closing the achievement gap, and if not, what do you propose to enhance that effort?

4) Recent demonstration programs and evaluation show that it takes more than just the schools to assure the success of children.  It takes a collaboration of schools, the community, and families.  What can school board members do to develop and enhance this collaboration?

FROM THE AUDIENCE:
5) I live in District 279 but do not have school age children.  What would you like me, as a voter, to know about the district.

6) What is your primary reason for running for the Osseo School board?

7) Do you think Osseo Schools are safe?  Why or why not?  What school safety proposals do you have to present?

8) What proposals do you have to address the current teacher shortage, especially for the shortage of substitute teachers

9) Academic achievement is poor in several of our schools.  What proven measures do you support to increase academic achievement.

10) Do you support the District’s current racial equity plan.  If yes, why?  If no, why not?

11) For which children do you think the state should provide early childhood education to?

CLOSING QUESTION: In summary, how do you intend to best serve the School District and move it forward?

Please like, comment, and share to help me get my message out.


Policies

I was the only School Board Candidate (and the only parent) to attend the School Board Policy Committee meeting on Tuesday. These meetings are not recorded so you have to be there to hear what your elected board members are saying. The Administration and Board is drafting it’s first formal Equity in Educational Achievement policy. There was an interesting and sometimes spirited 90 minute discussion among the board members and administration regarding what the District can do in order to close student achievement gaps. Educational standards, behavior, hiring practices, parental engagement, and training to embed racially sensitive teaching and leadership methods are all on the table. There was also agreement between the board and administration that big predictors of lower student performance, such as parental income level, single-parent households, and parental education level and employment status were not issues that the school has the capability, competence, funds, or mandate to address.

Understanding what you will and will not focus on is the first step in developing a plan of action.  There are some who believe that the School District has an unlimited money tree that can be used to pay for any and all programs that sound good and make you feel good.  That is not the way to run a fiscally responsible School District.  We need to work on programs that have been proven to effective, that are cost effective, and that are within the scope of the authority and mandate of the school district.  Acknowledging that in the policy is a good first step.