Both a nonprofit administrator and a Bryn Mawr Community School teacher recently announced their intention to seek the District 4 seat on the School Board this fall, bringing that race to a total of three candidates.
Josh Reimnitz, co-executive director of Students Today Leaders Forever, and third-grade teacher Sara Miele are running to represent a district that includes all of Southwest north of Lake Street, plus the East Calhoun neighborhood, parts of downtown and some of the Harrison neighborhood.
Darrell Washington, parent of a Whittier International Elementary School student and manager of the city’s Real Estate Development Services unit, was the first to announce his candidacy for the District 4 seat earlier this year.
Reimnitz, a Bismark, N.D., native, graduated from North Dakota State University and then moved to Atlanta, where he taught fourth grade from 2008 to 2010 through Teach for America. He now lives in the Elliot Park neighborhood and is one of three co-executive directors of his Minneapolis-based nonprofit, which was founded by University of Minnesota students in 2003 and provides opportunities for college, high school and middle school students to engage in service.
“I’m very excited and passionate about education,” Reimnitz said, adding his teaching experience in Atlanta “provides the background for me wanting to run today.”
This is the Elliot Park resident’s first campaign for public office — not counting a successful run for NDSU student body president. At 26, he is the youngest announced candidate running for School Board.
Miele recently accepted an early retirement offer that will end a 20-year career with Minneapolis Public Schools, mostly spent working as a teacher in Montessori programs and with schools in North Minneapolis. The downtown resident was a social worker for 17 years working mainly with the unemployed before enrolling at St. Catherine University to earn a teaching degree.
“I think it’s time for me to think about another way for supporting children,” Miele said. “I’m not ready to leave that mission, and the School Board seems to be the next level of support for the kids in the city of Minneapolis.”
Miele aims to follow the path of Lydia Lee, a former School Board member who resigned Jan. 1 citing family commitments. Lee was a middle school math teacher before joining the board, and Miele said the perspective of a district teacher was “not being heard since Lydia left.”
“Lydia Lee was a teacher and spoke for teachers — and for math program and girls and things like that — in a very ground up way,” she said. “… I think that’s a voice that we need to hear.”
Asked about their priorities if elected, Reimnitz said he’d work to close the district’s achievement gap, and emphasized the important role “positive leaders” at home and in school play in inspiring student growth. Miele said she’d try to find ways to reduce classes, possibly by expanding opportunities for non-licensed staff to help in classrooms, and advocate for ending the funding shifts at the state legislature that delay payments to schools.
Reimnitz, Miele and Washington all planned to seek the DFL endorsement at the May 19 city convention.
Washington, who lives in Whittier, was briefly profiled in this March 5 Schools Notebook column.