Eden Prairie News Q&A
October 27, 2017
Eden Prairie School Board Candidate Q&A: Elaine Larabee
Eden Prairie News
by Patty Dexter, Eden Prairie News
Address: 9703 Laforet Drive, Eden Prairie
Family: husband, Kevin (married 25 years); daughter, Andrea (EPHS 2013, University of Iowa 2017); son, Joey (EPHS 2016, attending Colorado College)
Employment: tax accountant with 20 years experience and employed as a tax supervisor by Weber & Deegan
Education: B.A. in business, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Community involvement: Eden Prairie A.M. Rotary, STRIVE Mentor and Club treasurer; Haven House Youth Housing Initiative board member; PTO Leadership positions; Prairie School of Dance; Eden Prairie Hockey Association.
Previous experience that would prove helpful in position: elected to Eden Prairie School Board in 2013; served as board clerk in 2013 and 2014; currently the board chair
Email address, website and phone number for publication: firstname.lastname@example.org; elainelarabee.com; 612-845-4671
Why are you running for the Eden Prairie School Board?
As a 20-year resident of Eden Prairie I take pride in our community and our schools. Our family’s two children were educated in this school district since kindergarten, and I have been actively involved as a parent volunteer for many years. Four years ago I sought and was honored to receive the opportunity to serve on the school board where I have been board chair for the last two years. I firmly believe high-quality public schools are vital to a strong and vibrant Eden Prairie. To continue to seek excellence we need experienced School Board members with the knowledge necessary to guide our district forward. I am a tax accountant with 20 years of experience who possesses the skills required to do the tough analysis needed to ensure that all district goals are being met. My unique combination of professional and volunteer experience makes me an effective member of the School Board and I would like to continue that work.
What is your view of the state of the school district?
During my four years on the School Board, we have been willing to make some difficult strategic decisions and as a direct result of those decisions, the district is positioned well to move into the future. We have a strong, experienced leader in our new superintendent, and he is committed to doing the work necessary to continue to drive student achievement. We, as a board, have also insisted that the long-term financial health of the district be a primary factor in decision-making. The resulting operating efficiencies mean there are more resources available for students and teachers in the classroom.
What would be your priorities as a School Board member?
From my extensive outreach in the community, I know that parents expect strong programming that benefits all students, an excellent teacher in every classroom and good leaders in all of our schools. Proven methods must be used to identify students who are not performing to their potential, and they must be given the individual attention needed to succeed. Our school’s mission is to ensure students gain the knowledge and skills to succeed whatever their post secondary plans. At this point it is very important for all district leaders, especially School Board members, to be mindful of the long-term financial outlook of the school district. All decisions regarding facilities and programming need to be made with long-term fiscal health as one of the top priorities. We cannot afford to sacrifice the quality of our programming in the future due to lack of planning in the present.
What are your thoughts about the Designing Pathways recommendations related to moving 4-year-olds into elementary schools and sixth grade to Central Middle School?
More in-depth information needs to be provided to the School Board by administration before any decisions around Designing Pathways can be made. At this point the board has asked the district to provide more detailed information around the cost of the recommendations. It will be important for me to understand not only the initial costs but also any impact to long-term operating costs that would result from any of the changes proposed. Also, more information around community support is necessary. During the initial design phase, parent input was sought. Now it is time to bring the proposal to the greater community to gauge support there as well.
What should be done to address the achievement gap?
The mission of Eden Prairie Schools is to inspire each student to reach their individual potential. As a School Board we set district goals around student achievement and monitor those results. This work requires that we, as a board, remain committed to holding the leadership of our district directly accountable for the success of all students. Closing the achievement gap requires a long-term commitment to the measurable progress of every student from every individual employed by the district.
What are the top-three issues you would face during your term?
First, we need to do everything we can to make sure that Eden Prairie Schools are the No. 1 choice for Eden Prairie families. Parents have more choices than ever around their children’s education. We need to be the best and most attractive choice for our residents. Second, long-term strategic planning is important at this point to maintain continued success and sustainability. Financial stability is vital to the district’s ability to continue to provide a high-quality education to each child. Third, we must remain deeply committed to the educational success of each of our students. The district needs to continue to investigate and implement the most effective ways to reach students and ensure future success whatever their post-secondary plans.
Have you ever been charged with a misdemeanor or higher, or been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy or foreclosure?