A former Minneapolis Public Schools teacher is planning a run for school board this fall.
Ex- Sanford Middle School teacher Josh Pauly says he will run for one of the board’s two open citywide seats. The 30-year-old says he thinks the board needs the perspective of a Minneapolis teacher and of someone preparing to start a family in Minneapolis.
“I understand the needs of our students and can offer insight into the challenges our teachers face on a daily basis,” Pauly wrote on his website. “Also, as someone who is preparing to start a family, I want to ensure that our schools are strong for the next generation of students who walk through our doors.”
Pauly, a Champlain native, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Minnesota. He taught for three years at Sanford before leaving to start a nonprofit organization this fall.
In an interview, he noted that the board currently doesn’t have any members who have taught in Minneapolis Public Schools and said he thinks the board should have that perspective.
“This is a space where I can help my community,” he said.
Pauly’s organization, called PeopleSourced Policy, focuses on crowdsourcing public policy solutions and gamifying policy topics. It’s mission, Pauly said, is to increase access to and community engagement in local politics.
Pauly also serves as executive director of the nonprofit Books on Wings, which provides books to youth in schools with high concentrations of poverty. The organization gets deep discounts from book providers, Pauly said, and partners with Hennepin County Library to get students library cards. It also holds book fairs during which students can pick out books to take home at no cost.
“A love of learning and a love of reading I think is so important,” Pauly said.
Pauly said he would focus on community engagement, student-teacher ratios, increasing wrap-around services and reframing the dialogue around the district’s budget as a school board member. He added that he would advocate for more state funding for education, noting underfunding and unfunded mandates in the areas of special education and English language learning.
“If those were funded mandates, we’ve got a budget surplus,” he said, referencing the district’s budget deficit.
Other areas of focus would include continuing the district’s investment in its teacher-residency program and pushing for restorative practices and increased funding for mental health support. Pauly also said he wants to keep the district competitive so that families send their kids to their community schools.
Pauly said he plans on seeking endorsements from the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and the city’s DFL party. He has already received support from school board chairman Nelson Inz and Ward 12 Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson.
He and his wife, Megan, live in the Standish neighborhood, where Pauly serves on the neighborhood board.
The Minneapolis school board consists of nine members, six of whom are elected from specific districts and three of whom represent the entire city. The board is responsible for hiring and firing the superintendent and overseeing the district’s budget, curriculum, personnel, facilities and policies.
Two at-large seats are up for election this fall, as well as the seats for districts 1 (Northeast and University communities), 3 (Phillips and parts of Powderhorn and Longfellow communities) and 5 (Southeast Minneapolis).
Board treasurer Jenny Arneson represents District 1, vice chair Siad Ali represents district 3 and Inz represents district 5. All three plan on running for re-election.
Rebecca Gagnon and Don Samuels occupy the at-large seats up for election this fall. Neither is planning to seek re-election.
At least three other candidates appear to be planning citywide runs, including Sabathani Community Center Executive Director Cindy Booker and frequent school board candidate Doug Mann.