Aileen White for 281 SchoolBoard

"Bringing the Community into the Conversation"

Aileen White

My name is Aileen White, and I am running to be your representative on the Robbinsdale Area Schools District 281 School Board.

As a parent for 25 years & counting, a staff member for 10 years, and an involved community member in tangent to this timeline, I am prepared and qualified to bring the community into the conversation as a member of the District 281 School Board.

Email me your questions at AileenWhiteFor281@gmail.com


Why Me?

I have been a volunteer within Robbinsdale Area Schools for 20+ years. My personal philosophy has always been "don't ask another to do what you will not do yourself".

Being in the front and center has never been something that came naturally to me, however, the timing is now right for me to consider doing what I have encouraged others to do.

RUN for ISD281 School Board.

-I have shown that I can show up for meetings.

-I and am informed about what is happening in the community.

-I have shown that I can ask the needed questions even if they do not get answered.

I am running to be a voice at the table for those in the community who can't make it to School Board meetings, to be a voice for those who due to circumstances can't speak up.

I am running to ensure that at the bi-monthly meetings, there are updates on district finances.

I am running to ensure that students are heard, their concerns are listened to and they are part of the solution.

I am running to ensure that staff on the ground in our buildings are seen, and that their knowledge and experience is part of any and all policies. These are the individuals who know our students and know what district students need. They need to be heard.

I am running to ensure that contracts and decisions are made in a timely manner. Why is the district administration presenting contracts to the School Board, with no turnaround time for investigation and discussion (Ex. Transportation, recent warehouse lease)?

I will work towards a timetable that district staff, are NOT working without a contract.

Why Vote ?

For many years, I have attended many district meetings, town halls, and focus groups within RAS.

Why did I show up?

I was new to MN, new to being a parent of school-aged children, and new to what education looked like in the area where I lived. I showed up to all I could, to learn, and understand how education worked so I could be the best advocate for my children as they navigated the various school systems.

What I learned

  • It takes a community to support a school system.

  • It takes being informed.

  • By being involved you find "your village"

  • There is no "one size fits all" however within RAS we have very skilled staff within our schools that show up every day for every student, to meet students where they are.

What has changed?

In a word "everything".

I am aware that not all parents and guardians have the same privilege that I had to be as vigilant about what is going on with their child's school, or what is happening within the politics of education. This is why informed communication matters and adequate notice about meetings and agenda items is important. Time needs to be given to those who want to engage so they can participate in the conversation prior to the decisions being made that impacts their student(s).

There seems to be a shift within the RAS. Decisions are being made away from the classroom, away from our students, who need to be at the forefront of our decision-making. RAS appears to be putting funds into positions away from the Classroom and Students. RAS has become administrative top heavy, these are changes I have seen over the years. Changes, if elected I want to question and know the reasoning why!

My Focus

If elected to represent my community, those within the boundaries of Robbinsdale Area Schools, I will work to ensure that:

Community Voice is at the Table

Having attended the various School Board meetings held by the current board, I have noticed a huge disconnect between the Business, Regular meetings, and the Work Sessions. I will advocate for agendas to be published in a timely manner before meetings, so community members can submit questions/concerns on matters up for discussion.

Your Listening Time

As a school board member, I will work to ensure that parents' and community members' time and questions are respected and answered honestly and in a timely matter.

Accountability

Accountability is an extremely important quality to see in our elected representatives. In the case of our current school board, I struggle to find accountability, especially in relation to our district finances. For example, a listing of disbursements in the monthly consent agenda is not showing accountability. A PowerPoint on budgets by the Director of Finance is not showing accountability. Where is the discussion about how the district is doing when comparing actuals to budget etc. ?

Transparency

All meetings need to be recorded.

All meetings need to be available for community members to access, either in-person or recording.

All Community members should be given an opportunity to be heard by the School Board, and communications to the School Board should not be filtered through the school district.



About me:

My family moved into Robbinsdale Area Schools (RAS) with my husband and 3 children for for almost 30 years. My family started to attend programs within RAS immediately. Our then 2-year-old daughter and few months-old son, participated in Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) classes, where we met many lifelong friends and became involved in our community.

Our children attended their local elementary school, and when we moved within the district, they were able to stay attending the school where they had built relationships with friends and staff. Throughout Middle School, our children followed the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, initially at Sandburg Middle School, then following the program to Robbinsdale Middle School, when the district made decisions to close and move programs. All three continued in IB at Cooper High School graduating in 2015, 2017, and 2020.

Throughout the years that our children attended RAS, I was able to support district programs as a member of the ECFE Parent Advisory Committee(PAC). While our children attended elementary school, I was involved in the PTA/O, assisting in classrooms when available, fundraising as needed, and showing up to help at events when others couldn't. In their middle school years, I supported the school administration by working with others to establish their current Parent Teacher Advisory Council (PTAC). At Cooper High School, my time was spent attending monthly meetings with the Principal at the time, who had a Parent Task Force. While a parent of IB students, in both MYP & DP programs, I participated in two different evaluations of the program by the IB governing body. However, most of my involvement at Cooper was with the Cooper Performing Arts Boosters (CPAB) -- you may have seen me standing in concessions at the various concerts and theater performances!!

While a member of the various school groups above, my time allowed me to also attend the district Inter-School Council (ISC). This was a monthly meeting with a school representative from each of the district school buildings. ISC members shared what was going on at the grass-roots level within the district, resources were shared, and questions/concerns were discussed. Most importantly, this Council had the undivided attention of the Superintendent (at that time), cabinet members who were available, as well as a School Board Member for 2 hours each month. Over the 18+ years that I attended these meetings, I saw a change in the district. Participation from schools dwindled, I saw this as a direct correlation with the change in the district administration. The reduced participation in these meetings had a ripple effect, and so reduced the number of voices heard from the community.

Seven Dreams Education Foundation (SDEF) was revived in earnest back around 2006, and although it had been in existence prior to this, the time was felt that the foundation should step up its game and do more for RAS. My role as Volunteer Treasurer was from this revival until approximately 2012, when I stepped away to allow other voices to be heard on the board.

My move from stay-at-home parent back into the work world, brought me to RAS as an employee, initially to work around my children's schedules, I worked part-time as a district substitute. This allowed me to be in many school buildings and see the heart of the district. I then began working in a part-time position at Armstrong High School, and after some years, this position morphed into a full-time position in the school office and later in the guidance office. I remained at Armstrong High School until Spring of 2021, when another opportunity came my way, and I resigned from RAS.

No longer an employee, I now found myself in the position of being able to run for RAS School Board.

For a great many years, I have attended School Board Listening Hours, School Board Meetings as a community member, and where possible or necessary, as an employee. I have witnessed many community members come to Listening Hours with their questions/concerns for the members of the School Board, yet I often felt their issues/concerns when unnoticed. The entire School Board was not present to listen. The report back from the Listening Hour Chair, never adequately represented what the attendee said. It has long been my concern that members of the Robbinsdale Area Schools Community are not heard. It has been my experience that staff on the front lines have no voices at the School Board Table. If I am elected and get to sit at the table, I hope to be a voice for those whose voices are not at the table.

If you are 18 prior to the November 8th, 2022 elections, PLEASE VOTE!

If you still attend RAS and want your voice at the table, please reach out to the candidates for RAS School Board, and see who will be the voice at the table for you.

Please consider me for one of your votes, as a member of the RAS School Board, I will continue to advocate for students, within RAS, as I have prior as a community member.

There are many within our community who currently do not have the right to vote.

Prior to 2002, this was my status.

Spring 2002, I received my full citizenship and was given the ability to vote. I have voted in every election since.

If I am elected to the School Board, I will be there as an elected representative of the community of RAS.

That means, whether or not you voted for me, I will be there to represent you and hope that you will contact me with questions or concerns. Please know you can participate as community members, you will have a voice at the table.

RAS School Board needs to hear more voices directly from district staff that are front and center in the education of our students.

Teachers

Educational Assistants

Support Staff

Nurses/Health

Custodians

Hall Monitors

Specialists

RAS School Board needs to hear more from the voices in out buildings, not from administration.

Anonymous Surveys directly to School Board is needed.

District Building Staff need to be heard and NOT filtered.



Ways to support my Campaign for Robbinsdale Area Schools

As a parent and employee of Robbinsdale Area Schools, attending meetings and supporting the schools, staff and students who I crossed paths with was what I did.

Things changed.

As a parent of graduated students & an employee who no longer works for Robbinsdale Area Schools, I am now a community member who has a VOICE.

I can speak my truth.

I can speak for others as needed.

I can ask question.

What I can do now, if elected and get to seat at the table.

Is ask questions in a bid to ensure transparency,

Require representation at meetings by all pertinent staff members.

Require recordings of all meetings.

Require FINANCIAL updates at all meetings.

Start to hold departments accountable for their budgets.

Remove the consent agenda.

Set time limits for when contracts that are up for renewal by the district, are reviewed 90 days prior to expiry date.

(34 days to go)


"The consent agenda is a tool used to streamline meeting procedures by collecting routine, non-controversial items into a group whereby all are passed with a single motion and vote. This method has grown in popularity in recent years and there are many variations on the theme to meet specific needs."

I have issues with the current RAS Board of Education Consent Agenda.

Very rarely does the community see discussion about financials on the school board agenda, except when discussing budget!!

WHERE IS THE DISCUSSION ABOUT WHAT RAS IS ACTUALLY SPENDING, or better still how is RAS doing compared to its budget.

There has been adjustments to the Budget presented to the School Board, mostly due to changes in funding parameters.

WHERE IS THE DISCUSSION ABUT WHAT RAS IS ACTUALLY SPENDING?

Why is the RAS Disbursements list that totals in the MILLIONS OF DOLLARS included in the consent agenda? The School Board gets this monthly list, not even a year to date listing so that they can see where regular expenditures are going.

Maybe it has something to do with this response I received from Supt. Engstrom on 9/16/2022, for my Listening Hour 8/15/2022 submitted questions. "The Board of Education’s role is governance, not school district operations".

(35 days to go)


Full disclosure, I stole this from a friends thread today!!

Why because this spoke to me because I can relate.

Coming from a different place,

coming from a different background

coming from a different culture

sometimes all I have to do is open my mouth and see the reaction, that says, you're different, you're not from here!!

Sometimes, I get treated differently, sometimes not.

One thing, I do know as Mr. Rogers shared, we are more the same than we realize, as a parent/guardian/care-giver, you name it, the single most important focus we have is our children and helping them be the best they can be.

As a member of Robbinsdale School Board of Education, how decisions impact your children, our students will be the forefront of my focus.

(36 days to go)

Today I got out in the neighborhoods that will be represented by members of the RAS School Board. It has been a while since I have navigated around the streets of the cities that make up Robbinsdale Area Schools. Reason being, as kids grow up, and they themselves get their drivers license, as a parent we get called upon less and less for car-pools, playdate drop offs, you name it and so we travel around the district not so often.

Today, it was a delight to see the clusters of homes, members of the community out in their yards, maybe the benefit of a great weather day & an early Vikings game🤷‍♀️.

Today, I saw neighborhoods.

Today, I saw families,

Today, I saw who elected members of Robbinsdale Area Schools, Board of Education will be representing.


(37 days to go)

In the last month, I was invited by DFL Senate District 43 to complete a questionnaire and panel interview.

Both of which I did, was I successful is getting a "letter of support" from them? No.

How do I feel about it? Indifferent having observed the process, considering that a seat on the RAS School Board and is a non-partisan role, however appreciated the experience.

Below is the questionnaire that I completed and turned in (edited some typos!!)

Questionnaire for DFL Letter of Support, Robbinsdale School Board 2022


Candidate Name: Aileen White

City of Residence: Plymouth MN


  1. Tell us about your current involvement with students, families and community?

I have been a RAS community member/school parent/volunteer since 2000. From attending ECFE (on their PAC for approx 5 years) InterSchool Council (approx 18 years) Seven Dreams Foundation Treasurer (approx 4 years during its revival) Elementary and Secondary PTA member and board member. Volunteered on district committees for the Fine Arts and Communications (until disbanded by the district). Frequent attendee to School Board Listening Hours and meetings.

  1. If incumbent, what’s your biggest accomplishment? Non-incumbents may refer to accomplishments in community organizations and activism.

Non-incumbent, helped with establishment of RMS PTAC - Active Fundraiser for Cooper Performing Arts Booster. Part of the group to re-establish 7 Dreams Ed.Foundation.

  1. What do you hope to accomplish in the next term, and how are you working toward that goal?

Establish better community involvement and participation with School Board issues and decisions. Honest and timely communication is needed from the School Board, I hope to aid in establishing that moving forward.

  1. If incumbent, what were the biggest barriers to success in your current term? Non-incumbents may refer to barriers they may anticipate if elected.

Non-incumbent, as a community member who has experienced many barriers in the provision of clear and honest answers to questions, I will try to ensure there is a change in both how and when information is communicated and that there is better dialogue with the community about what they want and need to know. There should be NO SURPRISES, ever.

  1. If you are not elected to the Board, how will you support Robbinsdale Area Schools?

I have been an involved member of the RAS community for as long as I have lived in the area. I have supported the schools that my children attended even after they moved on or graduated. The only issue that has stopped my involvement in certain areas of RAS has been when the district and its school board disbanded committees with no communication to the people who served on them. I have attended the Current School Board’s Community Connect Meetings for nearly 2 years, a committee that does not ALLOW Community input, yet I still showed up. So I think this answers your question with regards to my involvement with RAS and the community.

  1. Define diversity and include your ideas to increase equity and inclusion?

Diversity comes in all shapes and colors. Diversity can be different depending on where you are and what you are doing. If RAS is to increase equity & inclusion, RAS needs to start by listening to the community, RAS won’t know where they are missing the point or what is being overlooked unless RAS at first listens. Doors need to be open wide, every opportunity needs to be made available for listening, then we work together where ideas on how to be present for all can be figured out. What may be easy for you/me to understand, may not be the same for others, be it due to where they come from, the language(s) they speak, the upbringing they have experienced, what their outlook is. One Size does not always fit all, however finding the common ground is where we need to start.

  1. How should the Board advocate for retaining staff of color?

This is a double edged sword, all qualified teachers should be considered and retained as staff. Qualifications count, should RAS as a district encourage students of color to become the teachers they want to see, YES! Unfortunately, there is a time lag in seeing what is wanted. Students need to have the time to learn the necessary skills to become what is needed or wanted. All students no matter their demographic deserve to be in an environment where they can learn, if that means that the instructor before them needs to be a reflection of them, until there are better ratios, we as a community need to understand the shortcomings/reasons why a qualified, experienced teacher and/or student have difficulties understanding each other.

  1. Are you a Democrat? I am not a registered Democrat

How do your values and goals correspond to those of the DFL? I am the daughter of a farming family, my father was the one who had to leave the land, however found a career when he was able to assist the farming community, he was an ardent Union Member, and a great believer in equality for all.

  1. Where can people go to find more about you and your plans for the School Board? (web site, social media, etc.)

I am building my website currently and Social Media profile, all handles used are under AileenWhiteFor281 or AileenWhiteFor281@gmail.com


SD42 - where I am resident, decided to leave review of candidates to SD43 and to move with their recommendation.

(38 days to go)

My name is Aileen White, I was initially a reluctant candidate for the School Board, I took my time making the decision to run, until realizing it was now or never.


I have attended School Board meetings for quite a few years now, adding work sessions to the meetings I was attending. Having in recent years graduated my 3rd 281 student, I had more time on my hands, which allowed me to be involved at this new level of commitment.


My years of volunteering within RAS have always been part of a committee, council or team, and now stepping into the Candidate pool. After being a parent for 22+ years in the district, an employee for over 10 years, I found myself in a spot where now I could step forward.


The other night while pondering what to say about my connection to the school district, I realized pretty much every part of my Minnesota life has a connection to some degree or another. My support networks all started with friendships I made in Early Childhood Family Education, these moved along with me as my children started school, connecting with other parents who were also navigating the education system, who ever knew you had to register for kindergarten in January before school started in September!!

I got involved, to learn what I needed because school and education was different from what I knew and could expect.


With each stage of school my children moved onto, I moved too, learning as we all transitioned from grade to grade. I knew the systems within RAS.


I started to work for the district, subbing at first and worked in most if not all buildings before taking a full-time position until I resigned early in 2021.


I am not here to “give back”, I have been giving to RAS for many years, and I am sure I will continue whether on the School Board or not. I am a candidate for Robbinsdale Area School Board, because I know what an achieving school district looks like. I believe that when the voices of the students, staff and community are heard, we will find the district's footing again.


This is a district of the arts, both performing and visual.

This is a school district that has athletes that push against the odds to achieve their personal best.

This is a district where students can find their “what’s next”

This is a district that wants its community to stay and attend its schools.

This is a district that supports each other. (Look what happened when it was discovered that bus drivers like to drink coffee!)


As a member of the Robbinsdale Area Schools Board of Education, I will continue to “give to” this district, my inquiring nature to get questions answered, to not let important issues be relegated to only 3 minutes in a Work Session, to ensure conversations are happening in a timely manner, to review financial actuals to budget regularly & variances explained thoroughly and involve community members every step of the way.


(39 days to go)

My MN network is made up of many individuals who can connect with me and RAS to some degree. This is my community.

Because of RAS, I met https://www.kimholmesfor281.com/ & https://www.save281now.com/ attending school board meetings, where we developed a friendship by asking each other questions and providing each other answers that we knew individually and were not getting from the current administration. We each have a different strengths that compliment each other, our different backgrounds and connections to RAS, are what makes us strong candidates for the RAS Board of Education.



How are we to build culture within 281?


How is our community to feel they have some say or even feel that their concerns are listened to and heard?


How do we or even the School Board know if there is a common theme or issue within its school district boundaries?


There was a time when RAS School Board held their listening hour, where community members could come to the table and share their concerns, this table was somewhat inviting. There were times that I was the only person in the space, there would be open conversation, general conversation about (world) events of the day, there were jokes and antidotes shared,

There was NO TIME LIMIT placed on those who came to share.

When time was limited, it was out of respect for those who came, if there were "many", so all had an opportunity to speak.


Under the current SCHOOL BOARD supervision, these Listening Hours changed.

- Attendees were limited to 3 minutes.

-The space became less inviting, as the School Board sat with stern looks and no interaction. (There was a move to the opposite side of the Boardroom, to facilitate a request to "mic" the attendees so that others in the space could hear the concern(s), this however should not have changed the vibe for those attending the meeting, you are either inviting or not).

-The School Board had tired to CLOSE the session(s) before the advertised time of the Listening Hour was up, but was called out on it.


As someone who has attended School Board regular & business meetings for a great many years, and only started to attend Work Sessions in the last few. I have seen a shift, and not a positive shift in how the current School Board responds to the community.


When there is more than 1 or 2 in the audience, members of the school board, seem to want to "educate the audience" on matters rather than let, the audience be observers of the process.


There are members of the School Board who choose to NOT talk to or have constructive conversations with community members in attendance, there are the same few who will BUT they are all elected by the community and should not be selective in who they speak to.


There are many definitions of CULTURE - for me, culture within RAS means inclusiveness, a place for the community to share their concerns and to find solutions. Culture where transparency is at the forefront of every decision.


IF School Board members are not approachable and DO NOT want to hear directly from the community, they are NOT doing what they were elected to do.

Instead of "like" School Board Members need to "Listen & Respect the community"

As a candidate for RAS School Board, I hope to bring you, our community into the conversation. Please consider me as one of your candidates for RAS/ISD281.


(40 days to go)

https://www.save281now.com & https://www.kimholmesfor281.com

I support these other candidates for School Board. Both have shown up and being in the audience, to hear what as a community you don't hear, as all public meetings are NOT recorded. This is something "we" collectively will work to get changed, when we get to sit at the table.