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2020 School Board Election Profile: Dave Davidson

Mike Christopherson
Crookston Times

First off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your family, education, background/previous stops, career, etc.?

    I am married to Kim, an elementary teacher at Highland, and we have two children, Katie, an Augsburg grad, and Danny, a U of M grad.  Both are living and working in Minneapolis.  I retired after 37+ years as a high school English teacher at CHS.  My background before retirement was strong in leadership with Education Minnesota at the state, regional and local levels.  Upon retirement, I ran for the school board, was elected and then reelected.  If I should win again, this would be my third term.

You’ve been on the school board for a while now and you’re obviously seeking another term. What spurs you to continue wanting to to serve?

    I believe that I bring a unique perspective to the board, and one that is going to be needed even more as we work our way through this historic crisis brought on by Covid.  And, as I've said before, I feel that I owe this service to the district, the community, and the families of isd 593.

If you had to grade the response and Crookston Public Schools’ overall performance and actions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic, what grade would you give? Please explain.

    B-  This summer, we spent too much time waiting for and then reacting to the governor's weekly pronouncements when we should have been leading locally.  IMO, the school board needs to be more directly involved in this leadership and planning.

Can you list what you think are the three best things Crookston Public Schools has going for it at this particular moment in time, and reasons why you chose these three things?

    First, I feel that we have staff at all levels, who really care and have gone beyond the call of duty for our students and the families we serve.  Witness the hundreds of hours spent in planning and adjusting and re-planning spent this summer, as one example of this.

    Second,  Because of the attitude expressed above, I believe that Crookston gives students a great start to their education, as good or better than anything in the area.  Both of our kids went through the district and got an excellent background that prepared them for the next step in their education.

    Third, I believe that CPS is exactly the right size to offer a big school's academic and extracurricular offerings, while retaining a small school's sense of personal touch.

On the flip side, what trio of challenges facing Crookston Public Schools are the most daunting, in your view? What can/should/needs to be done to tackle these challenges?

    First, we have to constantly revise and adapt to Covid and the learning changes it requires.  I know first hand from viewing Kim's tireless work at dealing with change, adapting to new realities and finding a way to offer a first class education, how difficult this can be.  This extremely difficult work must go on.  We need to do more than get back to the way things were, we need to find a way to make things better.  

    Second, we must continue to work on reducing the achievement gap in our district.  Approximately 25% of our district's students are students of color who face unique challenges in learning.  Poverty is an additional barrier for many.  These issues and others are exacerbated by Covid and the realities of distance learning.  This should be our district's number one priority.

    Third, we have to do a better and more creative job of communicating our successes to the community and to the families we serve.

Where do you see Pirate athletics in five years? Do you see the same amount of sports offerings, or less? What do you envision in five years when it comes to Pirate football and track and field facilities?

    Clearly, we face the inevitability of change.  In point, we offer many more activities now with  fewer students than we did years ago. This has the effect of "watering down the talent pool." For example, we graduated classes of 150 or more when I first came to the district in 1973.  And today, when a class of 100 is unusual, we offer twice as many extracurricular activities as we did then.  IMO, there are two ways to approach this, each with positives and negatives.  First, we can continue to offer the same amount of extracurricular activities as we do now.  This offers more opportunities for student participation, but comes with a harsh reality check in terms of wins and losses.  Second, we can reduce the number of activities which will offer benefits in terms of wins and losses, but will mean that some students will not be able to participate.  In five years, this decision will have been made and we will be living with the results,  Community members, parents, students, talk to school board members and let us know how you feel.  This decision cannot be made without community input. I believe that within five years we will need to have our own facility for football and track, and it will need to be on our own property.

Please finish this sentence, and try not to simply recite a mission statement: Crookston Public Schools is…

    CPS is a great place for ALL students to grow and learn.

Can you list two people in your life that have particularly inspired you, or two people that you especially admire and try to emulate? Please explain your choices.

    Without a doubt, my wife, Kim, is my greatest personal inspiration.  Her tireless devotion to family, profession and students is amazing.  But, it's her combination of tough love and professionalism with Crookston families and students, and her devotion to teaching and to teachers that stands out most to me.  However, after Monday's board meeting, where the praises of staff and faculty were sung loudly by all, I'd add all Crookston staff at all levels who have worked so hard to maintain and to excel during these times.  It's an honor and a privilege to serve them.

Dave Davidson, back row left, and his family