SHEILA PRIOR FOR WAYZATA SCHOOL BOARD
Community, Data, Informed Policy
Early and Absentee Voting Begins September 20th!
Early Voting Locations
Minnetonka Residents: Minnetonka City Hall
All Other Residents: Wayzata District Administration Building
(Next to Gleason Lake Elementary)
210 County Rd 101 North
Wayzata, MN 55391
SHEILA PRIOR FOR WAYZATA SCHOOL BOARD AT A GLANCE
Why I am Running
I would like to serve my community. I have three children attending schools in the district and I want to help keep Wayzata on its path of excellence. In advocating for my children, I have run the gamut, from dealing with learning disabilities and 504 plans, to seeking gifted opportunities, sometimes for the same child! I have been extremely satisfied and appreciative of the education my children have received, and I would like to give back to the community by serving on the school board and advocating for all children in the district.
I would like to ensure the district provides forward-looking, evidence-based education that prepares our children for tomorrow. I commend the district for taking the difficult step of changing school start times to better align with the medical community's sleep recommendations for children and teenagers. I want to ensure the district continues to pursue evidence-based best-practices for its students while remaining fiscally responsible.
Preparing Students for a 21st Century Career and Workplace
Preparing our students for life after graduation, including promoting physical and mental health, is job number one. Many parents would like to see healthier lunches and language immersion opportunities provided. We also need to shift our thinking about the paths to success after graduation. We should instill the expectation in all students that they will be attending college or trade school after graduation, but recognize that college immediately after graduation is not for everyone. We need to identify and value the talents of all students, even when those talents fall outside the traditional analytical and test-taking talents usually stressed. The district has a great program called Compass, which engages students with local working professionals. We need to continue embracing this type of collaboration with business leaders to make sure our curriculum keeps pace with the changing work landscape for both college- and non-college-bound students. Finally, we need to make sure students appreciate what it means to act professionally on the job, understanding the respect and boundaries required to navigate life in the modern workplace.
Closing the Achievement/Opportunity Gap
Early intervention has been shown to be extremely helpful. I know from experience that many children require extra help with reading and math for a variety of reasons. Identifying these children early and providing them with professional one-on-one or small group help as early as possible is key. The Wayzata district provides assistance to students, including help during the school day as well as free summer-school programs. Closing the opportunity gap will also require close attention to school culture. High expectations and follow-through for every student are paramount. We have to have equitable and effective discipline and must instill trust in the school system. Training should be in place to ensure educators give all qualified students a sense of belonging in the AP and advanced courses. Gifted programs should be open to students based on demonstrated passion for a subject, not just test scores. These steps are increasingly recognized to help bridge the opportunity gap.
Keeping class sizes small and schools uncrowded should always be the main goal regarding growth. Community input is also paramount. The recent report from consultant Hazel Reinhardt predicts growth of approximately 2,000 students over the next 5 years. The biggest impact will be at the middle school level, with the greatest population increase happening at Central Middle School. The decision facing the district right now is whether to expand Central Middle School or to build a new middle school on land the district owns in the Northwest of the district. I favor building a new school . Central Middle school is already the largest middle school in the district; expanding it would increase crowding in the cafeteria and would lead to traffic congestion around the school. Moreover, the construction will likely take multiple years to complete, and I would not want that to disrupt Central Middle School when other options exist. The high school already has room for more students; in the even that more space is needed in the future, the location can easily support another classroom tower.
School Lunch Program
Culinary Express and the district have made strides toward healthier food offerings for students, and culinary staff do a wonderful job preparing quality meals daily. However, the district has not succeeded in removing concerning ingredients like food coloring and trans fats from all its menu items. Additionally, the district is promoting unhealthy eating habits with some of its á-la-carte items and entrée choices. Many parents in the district would like to substitute healthier ingredients and á-la-carte options for the foods that have concerning ingredients and too many empty calories. They would also like elementary students to be given more time to eat. I support their efforts. I believe we can significantly improve the food and the lunch experience without over-burdening culinary staff or raising prices. Adding just five minutes to the lunch period would make a huge difference. By prioritizing healthy eating and providing more frequent oversight, Wayzata's food program can be as reputable as its academic programs.
The district should continue following the recommendations of police and security experts. I would support making adjustments to facilities if it ever becomes warranted.
I believe in transparency and community input. Listening to educators, focusing on STEM education, and adapting and improving curriculum when it is warranted by evidence-based best-practices will ensure continual improvement. Sports, art, and music opportunities also enhance student education and quality-of-life for families in the district. As a school board member I will continue the excellent stewardship of the Wayzata School District.
I have extensive experience driving change in my previous school district. I led my community during a school facilities reorganization and acted as liaison between community members, school board members, school administration, and city planners, ultimately coming to a solution that was satisfactory to all. I'm proud to say that the eventual solution for the FAIR Pilgrim Lane school in District 281 was referred to informally in meetings as "The Sheila Prior Plan." My experience with the community and the school board during this time taught me the importance of transparency and of allowing time for input from all stakeholders when making decisions.
Sheila has lived in the Wayzata school district with her husband and three children for the past four years. Her family is very supportive of her running for school board, but possibly not for the right reasons. Should she be elected, her youngest son has asked for more hot dog days in the school cafeteria, her middle child wants escalators, and her daughter would like to be nominated for Secretary of State. Her daughter also offered to make carrot cake for all the board meetings. Sheila has since pointed her daughter to the section in the campaign manual about improperly influencing voters.
Some other things to know about Sheila: she graduated with distinction from Duke University with a B.S. in biology and a concentration in animal behavior and a certificate in primatology. She managed a primate lab at Duke until moving to Minnesota. Her time at Duke has imbued her with many life-skills and important knowledge; for example, don't look a macaque in the eye because he or she will consider it a threat.
Sheila's hobbies include yard work (some people call it gardening), competing in cyclocross races with her kids (and losing to them), and training her rescue dog Coda, a border-collie mix. Sheila and Coda volunteer and train with Minnesota K9 Search Specialists, and Sheila is hoping to have Coda FEMA certified as a search and rescue dog within a year or two.
Sheila thinks it would be really cool to be on the school board, so please vote for her.