Minnetonka ISD 276: School board election 2023

Seven candidates are running for four open seats on the Minnetonka school board, with only one incumbent member running for reelection. This election could cause a major shift in the board. Current board members Lisa Wagner, Mark Ambrosen and Katie Becker are not running for reelection.

MPR News emailed each candidate in this race and asked them questions about their qualifications, priorities and the most critical issue their district faces. The following responses were edited for length and clarity to provide a closer look at each candidate’s priorities if elected as a board member.

Sally Browne

  • “I believe that public schools in America are crucial to the health of our democracy, and my aim is to guarantee that the Minnetonka School District maintains its reputation for excellence and innovation, effectively meeting the needs of all children, and playing a vital role in our community for years to come, Browne told MPR News. “I am an experienced advocate for educational equity and am committed to protecting all students’ freedom to read, learn an honest history, and feel safe and welcome at school.”

  • “Post-pandemic, it’s time for the board to re-focus on long-term financial solutions to maintain our reputation for academic excellence and innovation, ensure facilities and services accommodate projected enrollment, promote community vitality, and make Minnetonka Schools a great place to learn and work,” Browne said.

  • Browne participated in the League of Women Voters forum on Sept. 12.

Kemerie Foss

  • “I have worked on and personally witnessed the great work done in our schools through programs like Teacher Grants, Vantage and Momentum as a part of the Minnetonka Schools Foundation Board,” Foss told MPR News. “Our family has experienced firsthand how the resources and extra assistance provided in the district can help prepare a child to thrive in academics and life.”

  • “The most pressing issue facing the district is an impending budget shortfall in the coming years,” Foss said. “We must continue to work with legislators on funding models that don’t keep pace with inflation, let alone provide the basis for improvements.  We have to get creative to see if we can scale offerings like Tonka Online that can provide additional funding sources without excessive costs.”

  • Foss participated in the League of Women Voters forum on Sept. 12.

Karen Jordan

  • “Over the last 2 years, I have attended about 90% of school board meetings, at times being the only non-administration member in the audience. This has been an incredibly rewarding experience and has prepared me for the role of an effective board member,” Jordan told MPR News. “Volunteering has provided a great opportunity to get to know other parents, teachers, and administrators. I have a strong passion for supporting all those who work tirelessly to enhance the quality of education in our District.”

  • “While surrounding Districts have endured budget cuts, Minnetonka has not for the last 18 years. This has allowed us to offer signature programs that benefit our students,” Jordan said. “In the next couple of years, projected budgetary shortfalls will require tough choices to be made in order to maintain the district’s outstanding programs. As a board member, I would work hard to find ways to continue all of these programs for our students.”

  • Jordan participated in the League of Women Voters forum on Sept. 12.

Chris Kratoska

  • Kratoska has not responded to MPR News as of Oct. 25.

  • “I’m running for school board because as a life-long educator, I love kids and want to see kids here in Minnetonka have the best opportunities going forward,” Kratoska told League of Women Voters. “I am an educator through and through; I know how kids learn and I can bring this experience to the board.”

  • Kratoska’s top priorities include focusing on artificial intelligence, education and addressing upcoming budget cuts, according to League of Women Voters.

  • Kratoska participated in the League of Women Voters forum on Sept. 12.

Dan Olson

  • “I'm the father of twin sixth-grade boys in the district, so we've still got half our public education journey ahead of us. I want to help ensure Minnetonka finds financial and enrollment equilibrium so the district can settle into long-term economic and academic health,” Olson told MPR News.

  • “Locally, we have a looming budget deficit. If we don’t proactively solve for that, any other problems we may want to address (inclusivity, literacy scores, mental health, traffic patterns, facilities improvements) won’t have the requisite resources,” Olson said. “So first, I advocate passing the technology levy on the ballot this fall, and then gaming out a variety of budget scenarios so the district has a plan for whatever the revenue or expense landscape looks like in the coming years.”

  • Olson participated in the League of Women Voters forum on Sept. 12.

Michael Remucal (current board member)

  • “As the only incumbent candidate, I am running for re-election so that I might continue the work that I have set out to do for the school district.  During my first campaign two years ago, I quickly discovered that I can represent many of the student and family populations that often go unheard in school districts,” Remucal told MPR News.

  • “While our district has been able to avoid budget cuts for more than a decade, frugal spending, aggressive lobbying at the state legislature, and maintaining our appeal to potential open enrollees will be critical in maintaining the quality and breadth of education we enjoy by avoiding the need to reduce our teaching staff.  Unfortunately, the mental health crisis is running a close second,” Remucal said.

  • Remucal participated in the League of Women Voters forum on Sept. 12.

Brandon L. Voges

  • “I want to help create an atmosphere in our schools which inspire students to develop personal agency and confidence in their ability to shape their futures through hard work, dedication, and accountability,” Voges told MPR News. “I am qualified for this position because I have learned to be a leader through my military and professional experience as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.”

  • “The most critical issue the Minnetonka school district faces stems from the damage inflicted on children during COVID-19. The data are conclusive on the ill-effects school closures, mask mandates, and isolation had on them,” Voges said.

Watch: League of Women Voters forum

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