Minneapolis School Board Candidate Questions

NOTE: Minneapolis – PAALS sent out a questionnaire to all MPS School Board Candidates on the ballot in 2018. This was formatted similarly to the candidate questionnaire sent to candidates in 2014.

Kimberly Caprini was the only candidate who responded to this year’s questions. The following are her responses. 

MCGT Minneapolis – PAALS does not endorse any School Board candidates. This information is provided in an attempt to aid Minneapolis voters in their ballot decisions.

MCGT Minneapolis – PAALS DOES support both funding referendum questions put to voters on November 6, and urges all Minneapolis voters to support our Minneapolis Public Schools.

1) Minneapolis Public Schools promises an inspirational education experience in a safe, welcoming environment for all diverse learners to acquire the tools and skills necessary to confidently engage in the global community. What will your priorities be to support this promise being a reality for all students? What do you see as necessary for this promise to be fulfilled for the advanced learners within the district?

Our students deserve the best academic experience possible.
To provide the environment for our learners to gain skills needed for their future, we first need to support teachers with classroom management. Some schools’ large class sizes are causing lost instruction time and reduction in necessary teacher-student relationships. This also includes my goal to hire more Social Workers, Counselors, Psychologists and Family therapists to meet students’ needs and therefore assist in students’ educational outcomes.

The district’s renewed interest in differentiated (or personalized) instruction benefits learners by meeting them where they are at,
 and advancing their educational growth.  Teachers cluster students to provide instruction at the appropriate levels.

The learning environment is also enhanced using methods such as the IB model (which I helped to bring to Olson Middle School),  better curriculum (I’m advocating for a stronger math curriculum in elementary schools and diverse social studies curriculum in high schools),  and more access to a broader range of classes like advanced classes as well as career and tech opportunities.

I believe that sometimes we are too bound by the ways we measure academic growth. I advocate for teaching to the standards, not to the test.
I also strongly advocate for additional funding through the referendums and advocacy to the state legislature.

These priorities will all improve the learning environment for our advanced learners.

2) MPS is currently working on a new strategic vision for the district.  What do you like about the vision thus far?  What are you curious about? What will you challenge?

I am excited that the district is reviewing its strategies and am watching the work closely. Because this is a draft, it is difficult to discuss specifics.  Within the vision I appreciate the focus on a base core instruction (predictable staffing) and related increases in opportunities for students (accelerated learning opportunities and band/orchestra).  I like the focus on increasing social and emotional supports. The lack of these are a barrier many students as well as the students in the classroom. Focusing on the whole child, rather than simply test scores is beneficial.  

I am curious about it all.  So many of the goals are exciting, but the work is to define the details, which matter to the students and families.  I am curious to find out if the elementary and middle schools will change format. I’ve heard there is flexibility and I would like to know how that flexibility will be implemented.  I’d like to better understand how success will be measured (Will we include social and emotional data? Will we include parent satisfaction survey data?).

I am staying open to learning more before I challenge it.  Getting back to budget will require changes, and I’d like to reserve judgment so that I have an open mind when the plan solidifies.  

3) Since 2013 (Minnesota Statutes, section 120B.11), school districts must develop a World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) Plan and Annual Report for each school year. For Minnesota to remain competitive, we must have students who are college and career ready, and who are poised to lead the state’s workforce. Per MDE, Minnesota’s overall population is aging and seventy percent (70%) of jobs will require more than a high school diploma by 2018. School boards have responsibility to establish the advisory committee of community members that develops their district’s WBWF plan and related goals.

In your opinion, what skills are important for students to build across their K-12 education as preparation for the 21st Century society and workplace?

I am very familiar with this, as I have been a member of the district’s World’s Best Workforce 2020 Advisory Committee for several years.  This committee works to understand the needs of the students and how the district can meet those needs.

Student need so many skills to prepare for their future including  speaking and listening, critical thinking, …..  I think hands-on experience in labs or shops are critical as well.

4) Conversations about equity and K-12 education are happening across the country. Minnesota’s federally approved ESSA Plan (Every Student Succeeds Act) includes a list of 10 Equity Commitments. Access to services (counseling, student advocates, ELL and GT services, reading and math supports, etc.) and classroom supports receive attention through an equity lens. Minneapolis schools are seeing rapid growth in cultural, socio-economic and linguistic diversity.

What importance does equity have in the day-to-day classroom experiences of educators and students across the school district (primary and secondary)? What should residents of the district understand about the role equity plays in the well-being of our communities and in helping students develop the skills you identified above?

Equity has a effect on students’ classroom experience. Some students do not have access to any advanced options, some students experience racism, some students have incredibly large classes, some experience frequent testing …. and some students are  bored…. In secondary schools, they are frequently tuned in to social justice and may have anger about inequities they see in the world.

I work to educate our Minneapolis community that some students begin far behind, do not speak English or have trauma or learning delays that need additional supports.  Minnesota is rated high on our equitable funding to students with high needs, but we are still unable to provide for the high needs of many of these students. Additionally funding within the city school districts is not balanced.  Keeping Minneapolis at the top of so many “best-of” lists requires that we help all students to succeed so that they can join in the workforce and help to lift our city.

Struggling students may not quickly grasp the skills needed for our workforce and city engagement, but we must provide the supports to get them there.

5) Advocacy on behalf of Minneapolis School District is among school board duties. Board members need to develop strong two-way communications to build trust and support among community, board, superintendent, staff, and students. They also are responsible for addressing issues that affect education on local, state, and national levels. How have past experiences prepared you to fulfill these assorted advocacy duties as a school board member?

I have spent years building strong communications with the board, through committee memberships, meetings and frequently speaking to the board during public comments at their meetings.  I attend most of the district meetings and have met with the superintendent and his staff several times. I work with and for the staff in many buildings, am or have been a member of several school site councils, and read to students. I work with the community in several organizations and events.  I host a few community facebook pages to raise awareness, gather feedback, and provide transparency to the MPS community.  I believe communications to be one of my strong points.

Specifically, I am involved with creating a path towards meeting needs for Middle Grades Sports, needed building and maintenence  improvements, defining educational pathways for students (opening a middle school that pathways to North High School, bringing IB to Olson Middle School, as the associated high school, Henry, is using IB), keeping schools open that serve the needs of the community and bringing families back to undersubscribed schools, as well as advocating for budget to meet the educational needs of students.

As my advocacy grew, and my relationships with others across the city, I also became aware of other needs throughout the city.  I will continue to build relationships with all city stakeholders to understand all of the needs throughout the city.

6) School Board Members must be both listener and ambassador. What would you tell prospective families and/or voting community members who don’t have students currently enrolled in Minneapolis Public Schools?

Again, communications and advocacy are incredibly important to me and the board position I seek. I tell families without students in the schools that the test scores they read about do NOT tell the story of our schools. MPS has teams of people who bring the best to the students day-in and day-out.  MPS, and all districts, have more work to do, but that I will bring my best to improve what needs it and …

7) Many families in the district have chosen to move their Advanced Learners/Gifted Students to private or charter or other districts’ schools because there is insufficient support for them within MPS.  If you are elected to the MPS School Board what will you do to move the district to serve ALL students in ways that insure they will achieve academic success in an environment that challenges them to meet their full potential?

While there are incredible needs that must be met to bring students up to grade-level, there are also needs to meet from the students at and above grade level.  One of the equity lenses I see is meeting students where they are.  I will work for smaller class sizes, a more robust differentiated (or personalized)  learning environment, increased options and not repeating class material in high schools.

8) Where do advanced learners fit within district priorities and accountability (under Minnesota’s ESSA plan) to demonstrate year-to-year growth and to provide personalized learning for all students in elementary and secondary classrooms?

Minnesota’s ESSA plan falls short in identifying the data to help districts define the work needed to attain growth for our advanced learners. They do provide services to aid school districts in identification and best practices for highly able students.  I will bring attention to the needs of all students, including those that score proficient on the MCAs.

9) Why should voters consider you as they choose among candidates for Minneapolis Public Schools’ open board seats?

As a leader in Northside schools for over 12 years and a member of the district’s World’s Best Workforce 2020 Advisory Committee, I am ready to represent all students and families districtwide. I strongly believe in public education and am ready to make Minneapolis Public Schools even stronger through my tireless pursuit of understanding the needs, advocating for solutions, openness and transparency.

Kimberly Caprini
Henry High School Parent
Olson Middle School Parent
Northside School Collective
Your Way Flooring, LLC
612.423.0082

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.