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Wayzata is a premier suburb located 11 miles west of downtown Minneapolis. With a population of 4,500 people, Wayzata is a tight-knit community which is known for its vibrant downtown and picturesque setting on Lake Minnetonka. A popular destination for visitors, Wayzata’s downtown is home to a number of specialty shops, boutiques, professional services, and restaurants.

Monday, October 24, 2011

School Board Voter Guide: Cheryl Polzin


What previous educational experiences do you have? Where did you go to high school and college? What kind of degrees have you obtained?

I graduated from F.J. Turner High School in Beloit Wisconsin and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.  After earning my degree, my educational experiences have been through community education classes and by participating in community events, attending speaker events throughout the metro area and participating as a parent and volunteer with our school district, church and greater community.  I believe that lifelong learning is an opportunity and a necessity for an individual and for our society as a whole.  I have always regarded a strong public education system as the critical link in providing a stable and civil society governed by democracy.

What professional experience do you have?

Through high school, college and until I landed a "job within my field of study", I worked as a restaurant server, employing all the necessary organizational and "people" skills to succeed working with kitchen and restaurant staff as well as the general public, starting at an IHOP and working my way up to being a tableside Flambé server.

Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, I worked in purchasing at a contract design firm. Here I researched and specified product and suppliers, negotiated pricing packages and helped projects stay on schedule and within budget. Prior to this position, I was the Office Manager at a retail/contract lighting showroom in Minneapolis where I was responsible for all office staff, helped implement software to manage our business systems and was responsible for all office functions.

Of course my most difficult, yet most important and rewarding job is being a good Mom. For the last 15+ years I’ve been the COO and CFO of our household and have acted as liaison between our family and the school district and community. Technically, this doesn’t qualify as “professional experience” as suggested in the question, but I believe that this experience has taught me many skills while highlighting how imperative it is that our school district remains a model of excellence bringing a world class education to all learners progressing through our programs.

My wide range of professional skills, dedication to success of students and the district and commitment to work hard at whatever task is before me, provides a combination of attributes that will serve our community well as it is applied to the position of school board member.

What do you see as the greatest strengths in our district?

The Wayzata School district is fortunate to be experiencing steady or slightly growing student population.  Steady or growing student numbers, combined with careful and skillful financial planning keeps our district in good fiscal condition.  I believe that our schools are in high demand because of the stellar overall quality of the educational experience that our district provides to students and their families.  This comes from having a talented and dedicated staff, administration and board.  Parents and the community in general are also committed to supporting this district with financial support through local levies and by donating personal time and talents to myriad programs and volunteer opportunities.  As a board member, I will work tirelessly to maintain and build upon this combination of strong people, strong programs and keeping our fiscal house in order.

What do you see as the most pressing problem in our district?

Our most immediate need is to relieve over crowding in some elementary sites.  Our programs and staff cannot function at optimum levels if the current number of students remains too high in some buildings.  A forward-thinking, long-term solution must be agreed upon and implemented as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality decisions.  The other pressing issue is not necessarily a “problem” but is a constant concern that must be consistently considered: responsible fiscal management, especially in these challenging economic times.  Our district has excellent Financial Administrators as well as a committed Citizen Financial Advisory Committee who work diligently to keep our fiscal house in order.  I will support the continuation of our approach to solid, smart financial management.

What specials strengths do you believe you would bring to the School Board?

I have a strong combination of skills and experience:
  1. Three children in Wayzata schools (6th, 8th & 10th grades)
  2. Varied and sustained district leadership and committee membership experience (please visit my website www.votepolzin.com for a complete list).
  3. Strong, collaborative relationships with administration, staff, parents, community members, district legislators and other members of committees upon which I serve.
  4. Solid understanding of legislative issues/process and how State action/policy affects our district.  
What do you see as the School Board member's role and responsibility in the effective administration of schools?

A strong board will work together to get and keep the right, great people in administrative positions and let them do their jobs.  Problems and concerns should be openly discussed and an agreed upon plan of action should be implemented by administration and staff.  A collaborative atmosphere of idea sharing and good communication between board, administration and staff is critical.  This “working hard together to improve our endeavor” approach is what I do.  I’ve forged many strong relationships with parents, staff, administration and district legislators over the years and I intend to continue to work hard to continue and strengthen those relationships. 

If elected, what is the first issue you plan to address?

I will first learn how I can best help to implement our district’s new Strategic Road Map which I believe is a guide to bringing our district to an even higher level of educational excellence.  I will also work hard to address the facilities use issue so that student population in our buildings is better distributed.  

Anything else you would like to volunteer?

My experience as citizen co-chair of the District Legislative Action Committee has allowed me to participate in and carefully observe the legislative process in St. Paul.  I have good working relationships with legislators who represent our district and understand how the many issues tacked at the State level are interconnected.  Having a solid understanding of the process and knowing how seemingly unrelated legislative decisions filter down and affect our schools is important.  I can bring this pragmatic and reasoned approach to the table and would be honored to serve as a board member of this excellent school district.

What is your website address?

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