Paid political letter: McAlister: A belief in investing in students

Published 6:30 am Saturday, October 24, 2020

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Dear Austin Community.  My name is Carol McAlister.  I am running for school board because I believe that investing in our children’s education means a vibrant future for Austin. I am passionate about public education and passionate about our youth.  I would love to give back to the Austin community in a capacity where I believe that I could make a positive difference.  I would be honored to serve the community, as a voice on the school board, for all students, parents, teachers, administrators, and the community.

If elected, my goal is to make a positive impact on the academic, emotional, mental health, and social needs of our diverse student population, which, I believe, have been greatly affected by the pandemic and distance learning.  Sound mental health, which is essential to student’s success in school and in life, needs to remain a focus.  My heart goes out to the parents who are trying to balance the demands of their families, their children’s education, and their jobs during the pandemic; and to the educators, administrators, and current school board members who are taxed with the enormous responsibility of safely re-opening and keeping our schools open.  My desire is that all students are able to receive a high-quality education in a safe environment, with a prioritization of their emotional, social, and mental wellbeing.

I thoroughly enjoy volunteering in our schools.  I have served as a member of the Austin Positive Action Coalition (APAC) for the past four years, which has a mission to reduce alcohol, marijuana, and vaping use among our youth.  APAC uses a different approach by focusing on positive community norm messages, as well as providing critical prevention education to reduce substance use in our community.  Additionally, I served on the Austin Public Schools (APS) Chemical Policy Sub-Group, which researched, reviewed, and proposed a new Chemical Policy for Austin Public Schools that better reflected the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) bylaws.  Those changes were adopted by the School Board.  Lastly, I chaperoned many school field trips, helped organize and work at Project Graduation, assisted with the After Prom Parties at the bowling alley, and distributed Summer Activity Kits to students. 

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I have also volunteered within our community.  During the height of the pandemic, I packed and delivered meals at the Senior Citizens Center, which I found very rewarding.  I am a member of Mission 507 at Cornerstone Church which is a group of volunteers that provide assistance to people in the community and organizes the Single Mom’s Car Care Clinic.

I have shared some information about my qualifications from a school-related standpoint, now I would like to share some information about my background, so you can get to know me on a personal level to better understand my character.  I am a life-long resident of Austin, and an Austin High School graduate.  My husband, Jack, and I have 5 wonderful children (Eric, Ryan, Aron, Emily, and Evan) and 2 precious grandchildren (Josephine and Kadyn).  All five of our children, and our granddaughter, have attended Austin Public Schools.  I am a 32-year Mayo Clinic employee.  I have experience in grant writing, budgeting, and managing multi-million-dollar accounts. My current position is an Analyst III Supervisor on the Research Participant Billing and Compliance Team.  My job is immersed in interpreting, implementing, and following federal, state, and local regulations, policies, and procedures.  I believe that my background would bring a diverse perspective, new energy, and a positive balance to the School Board.

I am running in the Special Election for the 2-year term on the Austin School Board.  This 2-year position has big shoes to fill, as the person elected will replace Don Fox, who is retiring from the board in November.  Thus, the person elected to the 2-year School Board position will need to hit the ground running.  I am a quick learner.  I love a challenge.  I am analytical, detail-oriented, and like to think outside of the box to find solutions.

I would be humbled, honored, and grateful to receive your vote.  Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.