Kimberly Caprini became involved in Minneapolis schools because she wanted her oldest daughters’ teachers to know she had an expectation for what they presented to her daughter.
This November, she hopes to parlay her involvement in the district into a seat on the Minneapolis School Board.
Caprini, who has served on multiple school site councils and MPS committees, said she’s running to rebuild the foundation of the Minneapolis district, which she says has been chipped away at for years. She said she also wants to make sure the district has sound policies that help students succeed academically and become the best people they can be.
“I see now where we are in this critical juncture that there is an opportunity to rebuild a base, to create a foundation that was as strong as it was years and years and years ago,” Caprini said in an interview last month.
Caprini, the daughter of a public school teacher, grew up in Minneapolis and spent years working in the bar and restaurant industry after high school. She said she and her husband are big on supplementing their daughters’ education, which led to her becoming more involved in the district.
Caprini said she started speaking out at board meetings about a five-year district plan that included determining boundaries and attendance lines. She subsequently joined up with other community members to start the Northside Schools Collective, which advocated for equity, stability and accountability in public education.
“We had presence that had never been seen on the Northside before,” she said.
On her website, Caprini notes accomplishments such as advocating for access to swimming in North Minneapolis and supporting Lucy Laney Community School when it was lobbying for a co-teaching model. Other accomplishments, she writes, include advocating for building and maintenance improvements and fighting to keep open Loring Community School and bring back middle school athletics.
Caprini also lists multiple priorities, including authentic community engagement, strengthening athletics and supporting efforts for ethnic studies to become a graduation requirement.
“Imagine where we would be if it was no different than having any other class,” Caprini said. “We’d have far different ways of relating to one another.”
Caprini said the district needs to ensure students are getting their needs met, no matter where they are. She also said the district needs to make sure schools have the kinds of programs and extracurricular activities that make parents feel they’re getting what they want for their children.
She recognized the district’s current financial limitations, given its projected $33 million budget deficit, but said there are ways to get around them by partnering with the Park Board and other government units and organizations.
“We need to have an avenue for athletics. We need to have an avenue for arts and music,” she said. “But we also need to become creative right now because of where we’re at.”
Caprini said Superintendent Ed Graff is doing something that hasn’t been done before when it comes to addressing the projected budget deficit. Graff, the second-year superintendent, made a commitment last year to identifying budget gaps on the front end of the budget process, rather than addressing shortfalls midyear.
That commitment led the district to make budget cuts for 2018-19, as it works to balance its budget by 2019-20.
Caprini said she thinks Graff is moving in the right direction, adding that she appreciates the work she’s seen from his leadership team. She said she’s energized by the help the district is giving to the Workforce 2020 Advisory Committee, on which she serves, noting meetings with master teachers on the district’s new literacy curricula and with data scientists on graduation rates.
“To actually be in a place where it’s like, ‘foot down, feet ready to run,’ … I feel that energy when I’m in these spaces with teachers and principals or at the Davis Center or any of my site councils,” Caprini said.
When asked what the district could do to increase its market share, Caprini said the district needs to better market its product, noting the work that has gone into being culturally responsive and inclusive. She said she’s been talking to parents about marketing their own schools, adding that she has encouraged schools to invite their communities to activities such as sporting events and school plays.
Caprini has served on site councils and parent-teacher organizations at about half a dozen schools in Minneapolis and is also a member of the District Parent Advisory Council. She has two daughters — one who graduated from Patrick Henry High School and attends the University of Minnesota and one who attends Olson Middle School.
Caprini works as a resource navigator for The Neighborhood Hub, a North Minneapolis nonprofit that provides services and resources for the area. This is her second run for the Minneapolis School Board.
At least four people have said they’re running for the board’s two open at-large seats this fall, including two-term board member Rebecca Gagnon, former MPS teacher Josh Pauly and frequent candidate Doug Mann.
Visit kimberlycaprini.com to learn more about Caprini and her campaign.