School Board Voter Guide: Carter Peterson

What previous educational experiences do you have? Where did you go to high school and college? What kind of degrees have you obtained?

  • Tobe-Coburn School of Retail Management, New York, NY
  • Williams College, Williamstown, MA, B.A. in Psychology
  • Catlin Gabel High School, Portland, OR

I was fortunate to attend excellent schools and the advantages of that education motivated me to be actively involved in the schools as a volunteer when my own children’s K-12 years and long after they all graduated from Wayzata HS. I am used to high standards and high expectations and have always advocated for policies and programs that create opportunities for Wayzata students to excel at the highest levels.

What professional experience do you have?

  • Buyer and Group Sales Manager, Macy’s California, San Francisco, CA
  • Assistant Buyer and Dept. Manager, Woodward & Lothrop, Washington, D.C.

My professional business training in retailing has been helpful in board-level budgeting and financial matters, making results measurable, and also in simply evaluating trends.

What do you see as the greatest strengths in our district?

  1. People: Our students, parents & other family members, our faculty and staff, other community leaders and the taxpayers who support us financially. Everyone plays a role in making this a great district and I look forward to working with all of our stakeholders just as I have for the last 9-1/2 years.
  2. Sound financial management: Since the district emerged from its financial problems in the early 1990’s, the board and the administration have taken great care in planning and managing the district’s finances on both a short and long-term basis. I believe that we need to continue this culture of conservative financial management in order to preserve our operating flexibility in the face of future funding variability.
  3. High expectations: I have always advocated that we set the bar high with our curriculum and graduation standards, with our personnel and our financial management which stretches everyone to improve.
What do you see as the most pressing problem in our district?
Short-term, it is enrollment management and capacity planning.  We are closed to Open Enrollment which is a credit to the district’s quality and popularity but which presents other challenges.  In lieu of building another new elementary school to handle what might be a short-term surge, I favor adding some classroom capacity more broadly throughout the district.

Long-term, it is the evolving role of technology in K-12 education. I believe that balancing the costs and effectiveness of new technology in our curriculum and classrooms will be a major challenge. The decisions will require both financial prudence and boldness by the board, staff, students and our community. We need to get this right if we want to provide our students with a 21st century education. As Steve Jobs said at the end of his speech introducing the IPAD 2 in March of this year: “Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”

What specials strengths do you believe you would bring to the School Board?
  • I’ve been privileged to serve on the School Board for 9 ½ years and during my tenure, I have served as Chair, Vice- Chair, Treasurer and Clerk. I have also chaired various board committees such as Citizen Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC), Facilities, Curriculum and Instruction and others.  My experience as a parent of three WHS graduates and as PTA/PTSO president for Gleason Lake, West Middle School and Wayzata High School has also aided my service on the board as I’ve watched how their academic experience at Wayzata have served them well in their young adult lives.
  • My early business training in retailing is also helpful in board-level budgeting and financial matters and also in simply evaluating trends. I was a strong supporter of the Board decision to require one of the highest course credits needed for graduation both in Minnesota and the nation. Those high standards were based on our long-term view of what students would need to be successful in the 21st century. 
What do you see as the School Board member’s role and responsibility in the effective administration of schools?
Board service is a collaborative effort among all seven members.  Broadly-speaking, our job is to help the administration review and approve the long-term academic, administrative and financial objectives for the district and to monitor the results over time.  This process also includes listening closely to all stakeholders who have questions or suggestions for improving our schools.

My view is that school boards should set long-term goals and monitor the results rather than try to become an operating committee that supplants the proper day-to-day work of the administrative staff.  It’s a fine line and the Wayzata board has done a good job at this sort of governance in recent years thanks in great measure to our highly competent and award-winning staff.

Along the way, we deal with all of the more detailed financial, legal and other regulatory matters that by law require board oversight.  We represent the community’s overall interests to ensure that current and future students have the staff and facilities to prepare them with 21st century skills so that they can succeed in higher education, careers and life in a global economy.

If elected, what is the first issue you plan to address?
The Board’s first priority will be the finalization and implementation of our new Strategic Plan.
Anything else you would like to volunteer?
 I am proud of the quality of Wayzata schools and the many board-approved initiatives of the past decade.  It has been a privilege to serve for the past 9-1/2 years with other dedicated board members. I have also enjoyed working with our talented students, staff, parents, guardians and many community members. They are all partners in the success of Wayzata schools.  I would be honored to be re-elected to the Wayzata School Board on Tuesday, November 8th.

What is your website address?

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