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Changes ahead, so communication is key

Heidi Jones will serve as chair of the Red Wing School Board for the fourth time this year. Jones also served as chair in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Jones was re-elected at the Jan. 6 meeting, edging Janie Farrar by a 4-3 vote. (Republican Eagle photo by John R. Russett)

As Heidi Jones settles in to her second straight year as chair of the Red Wing School Board, there is potential for a lot of change this year.

Community members are gathering with teachers and administration to discuss possibilities for the future of Red Wing’s schools, there is a proposal to change the schedule for students at Twin Bluff Middle School, the Goodhue County Education District will be working with the district on a new facility adjacent to the high school, and there’s a new evaluation system for teachers.

Throughout all of this, Jones said, it’s important to keep working to improve communication between the community and the seven School Board members.

“I think we’re at an exciting time, I think it’s a dynamic time for the district,” she said.

Jones said when she first got involved with the School Board there was little conversation between the community and the board. Now, one of the biggest pieces of what the School Board is trying to do is improve communication.

Jones said she sees board members as bridges between the district and the community and they must be able to articulate community concerns to district leaders as well as explain some of the district’s decisions to the public.

With a lot of moving parts right now, Jones said, she sees her primary role as board chair as making sure there is a good decision making process in place.

“I think in order to be a good, collective decision-making body, we have to understand what that looks like,” she said.

With different levels of experience on the board, Jones said they had two training sessions last year, which is the first time the board has done something of that sort since she’s been there. This year the board will continue to work on board development, she added.

Jones also said it’s important to take the time to realize accomplishments — and not always focus solely on what’s next — such as the five districts that make up the GCED voting for a new facility.

“That’s a huge accomplishment,” she said, adding the board needs to understand a project of that magnitude will take a lot of time and energy from staff.

Having the community involved in dialogue surrounding school facilities has been invigorating and stimulating, Jones said, and she is excited to be able to continue that process.

“It’s exciting work that we’re assessing what our future looks like,” she said.

Jones said with everything in front of the board this year, the bottom line always remains how to best meet the needs of the students.

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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