9 Vie for 3 Seats on Sauk Rapids-Rice Board
SAUK RAPIDS -- It's a crowded field if you're voting in the Sauk Rapids-Rice School District this fall, as nine candidates have thrown their name in the ring for three open board spots.
All three incumbents, Phil Rogholt, Robyn Holthaus and Lisa Braun are running for reelection. They're challenged by five new names, Rebecca Reverman, Bryce Johnson, Andrew Lindeman, Lisa Loidolt and Michael Keehr. A former, long-time board member, Brenda Woggon is also throwing her hat in the ring.
A graduate of Sauk Rapids-Rice, and lifelong resident, Rogholt is one of the incumbents running for re-election. He coaches and refs several different youth activities along with his service on the board. Rogholt says adaptability is key for a board member.
"You have to be open and flexible for what you're working on and toward. As long as you keep your goals focused on students and working for them [you're doing your job], that's what I'm going to [continue to] do."
Rogholt points to his lifelong connections to the area and the experience he's gained on the board already as his best assets for voters to consider.
As one of three incumbents running for re-election, Braun is a long-time Sauk Rapids resident. She's also the Director for the Greater St. Cloud Area Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. Braun also has three children who've gone through their education in Sauk Rapids-Rice. She says she's running again to keep Sauk Rapids-Rice strong.
"I feel like we have a strong district, we are a seller district that's been recognized statewide and nationwide for being an innovative district that really prepares our learners for the future."
Braun says she has a lot of experience working with a lot of different people, which she says will help her in another term on the board. Balancing open enrollment and the district's financial needs is one of her top priorities.
A lifetime resident of Sauk Rapids and a graduate of the high school, Holthaus is in her 16th year on the school board. She's very proud of what they've accomplished during her time on the board. Holthaus says she'd like to focus on both community relations and student achievement going forward.
"Externally, we need to find out what the community expects from us as a district and our leadership as a school board. While internally, looking at what we can do to enhance and increase our student achievement."
She says the two failed referendums have been "vision changing" for herself and her fellow board members. Holthaus says they need to see where community input takes them from here.
A first timer in the political world, Reverman lives in Sauk Rapids with her husband and has four sons and one step-daughter. She works as a legal assistant in St. Cloud. Reverman says she's become very invested in Sauk Rapids since moving there 12 years ago. She says her primary focus would be closing open enrollment.
"I would work on closing open enrollment, instead of just putting a cap on it at this point."
Bullying is another big priority for her as well. She says she has a passion for helping the community and wants to make it better while making herself better.
Johnson has lived in Sauk Rapids with his wife and three kids since 2010. He was part of the "Vote Yes" committee for the referendum in May. Johnson says he wants to make sure that every student in Sauk Rapids-Rice gets an excellent education. He says his top priority is making sure the district's teachers have what they need.
"Making sure that our teachers have what they need. Are we supporting what they need to teach? Are we giving them all the tools, do we have shortfalls in certain areas, and how do we address those shortfalls."
Johnson says he and his family's lives revolve around Sauk Rapids. He says he enjoys being hands-on in the district and thinks the technical education the district provides should be supported as best it can.
Woggon, while not an incumbent, is a well-known name if you keep up to date with Sauk Rapids-Rice. She's a previous board member with 20 years of experience. Woggon says her number one priority is making sure students have everything they need.
"My top priority has always been the students. Their well being, and making sure they have everything they need."
Woggon has three grandsons in the district and is very proud of it. She says her previous years on the board should serve her very well if she wins a term this time.
Loidolt, a Navy Veteran, is making her first attempt at the Sauk Rapids-Rice board. She's worked in both the corporate world and in education at Athlos Academy. Classroom sizes are a big concern for Loidolt, who says it won't be an easy task, but one she's willing to help take on.
"Lowering classroom sizes isn't going to be overnight, it's going to take time as students work through our schools and graduate out."
To that end, Loidolt says a few things like general education paraprofessionals, co-teaching and closing open enrollment would go a long way to alleviate class size issues.
A life-long resident of the St. Cloud Metro, and an 18 year Sauk Rapids resident. He feels his voice wasn't heard during the last referendum, and that's spurred his entry into politics. Keehr says he'd like to look outward, to see how Sauk Rapids-Rice can improve their academics.
"Go out and look at schools that are excelling in our area -- such as Becker and Monticello -- and see what their academic plan is, and what they have that we don't."
Keehr says lowering class sizes is something he'd like to work toward if he wins a seat on the board. He also wants to maintain the quality of the district's extra-curricular activities.
A professional driver who's making his first jump into the political pool. Lindeman's been a resident of Sauk Rapids since 2001. He says the last referendum is why he's getting involved this election. Lindeman says he felt the board was playing political games when it came to district safety.
"I felt like they were using safety [for political gain]. Putting it off [improving] safety to get votes for the other things in the referendum and I felt that was a shady thing to do."
Lindeman says he wants to make Sauk Rapids-Rice the best district in the St. Cloud area.