RED WING -- School Board leadership in 2021 represents a mix of consistency and new ideas.

Pam Roe ran and won a second, four-year term on the School Board last fall with a focus on consistency. She said that because of the challenges the board faces in 2021 due to the pandemic, she believed it was important to have members who are experienced in the workings of the board. After being reelected, Roe used the message of needed continuity when running for a second term as board chair. Her fellow board members agreed with this argument and reelected Roe.

While Roe was reelected to the board and chair, the School Board does look different in 2021 with three new faces — Jennifer Tift, Nicky Buck and Anna Ostendorf — and a new vice chair: Jim Bryant.

At the start of his third year on the board, Bryant felt ready to join the leadership team. He told the Republican Eagle, “I was hoping to receive the support of the School Board for one of the leadership positions. I have been chairman and vice-chairman of a number of other boards throughout the years and am comfortable in a leadership role.”

Jim Bryant. File photo
Jim Bryant. File photo

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Roe and Bryant agree that the main focus for the board in 2021 is the pandemic and its impact on local schools and students. Roe stated, “We'll have a lot of planning to do around making sure that we recover from that OK. We did a lot of changing and rearranging of buildings and grade configurations to meet the needs and requirements through the pandemic. And so what does that look like moving forward? We've already started talking about and making plans for this fall, which I'm very excited about.”

Bryant said education was not immune from the financial impacts of the pandemic. He said, “COVID-19 has been a big financial hit for the Red Wing schools and we will be facing some budget reductions in the very near future. We will be looking at budget reductions due to loss of revenue in part because of declining enrollment and COVID-19 in the next few months.”

Roe, Bryant and the other five board members will ask numerous questions and make difficult decisions throughout the year, but Roe remains optimistic about the school district. “I am very confident that we'll be able to come out stronger than ever. And I think that the challenges that we've been faced with have actually highlighted for us some great areas that we can improve upon,” said the school board chair.

Roe emphasized the importance of community partnership with Red Wing schools and the School Board:

“Some of the biggest and most important work that I do is working with members of the community and getting their feedback. And so I do want to remark that I feel very fortunate that we live in and work in the community of Red Wing. You know, when we put a call out that we need more subs, or when we put the call out for any need that we might have in the district, our community really rallies and responds. And so I'm just extremely grateful to be able to partner with our community members, with our stakeholders, with local businesses, because they really support the school and of course, a strong school is key to a strong community."