A guide to the 2019 Edina School Board election

Liliana Hanson, staff writer

Janie Shaw: 

Sophie Charnell

Janie Shaw is a first-time candidate for the Edina School Board. While this is her first experience with politics, Shaw has been heavily involved in the Edina school system for nearly 15 years. With two children in Edina schools, she was the Parent Teacher Organization president before sitting on the district committee. “Now that I’ve been here so long, I can see those opportunities to help students and teachers,” Shaw said. She believes that the strategy and planning skills she learned as an employee in the private business sector will help her on the school board. Speaking on the Strategic Plan, a massive document that dictates the direction that Edina Schools will take in upcoming years, Shaw said that she “would like all of that work to really focus on kids, like every kid reaching what their personal success level is, so maybe more proficiency in writing for a third grader, or maybe it’s trying out an enriched class for a seventh grader.” As for what she plans to do as a member, she hopes to add more real-world opportunities to classes, especially in the high school, as well as ensuring proper allocation of the district’s resources. 

Julie Greene: 

Sophie Charnell

Although she is one of five first time candidates, Julie Greene isn’t a newcomer when it comes to the Edina Government. In addition to more than a decade of school fundraising work, she was also a co-organizer for the Edina Levy Referendum, working on behalf of the district to determine the budget for Edina Schools.  “I learned when I worked on the levy that our community is so strong. And I feel that I really was inspired, meeting people with all my work through the schools, and then I saw an opportunity to step up and join the leadership team,” Greene said. Should she be elected, she plans to focus on ensuring that the district works for all students in Edina Schools and on consulting teachers on educational decisions. “I would say I am most passionate about bringing the teachers back to the front of our decision making,” Greene said. “It’s not just saying yes, of course, we support the teachers. It’s actually having their voice at the table and listening to what they’re saying. They’re at the front line; they know our students better than anybody else.”

Leny Wallen-Friedman: 

Sophie Charnell

The current Chair of the Edina School Board, Leny Wallen-Friedman is running for his third term. Given that the district’s Strategic Plan is nearing completion, Wallen-Friedman believes that it is especially important to have experienced officers on the Board. “We have two incumbents running. We don’t get re-elected, and you end up with the most senior person having two years experience. It’s important to have the institutional knowledge,” Wallen-Friedman said. Should he be re-elected, he hopes to put a greater emphasis on the mental health of students. “I believe there are things we can do at the high school that will eliminate or at least reduce some of the stress,” Wallen-Friedman said. “During AP exams, you have classes, you end up juggling the two. I’d like to see the district create a policy that says ‘let’s scale back a little bit during a few weeks.’” As well as reducing stress for high schoolers, Wallen-Friedman would also like to work on ensuring that children learn basic concepts during elementary school to increase academic success later on. “Where we need our most emphasis is pre-K through grade five; if we can get kids up to speed during that stretch, they’ll succeed better in middle school and high school.” 


Sarah Patzloff: 

Sophie Charnell

One of two incumbent school board candidates up for election this cycle, Sarah Patzloff has previously served for two terms as Clerk and Vice-Chair, as well as serving on the city’s Finance, Teaching and Learning, and Facilities and Human Resources Committees. Her belief in the value of experience, as well as her love for her job, were chief factors in her decision to run for reelection.  “I really think it’s important that you have continuity, and that you have experience on the board,” Patzloff said. “I have the knowledge of how the system works; I understand where we’ve been on issues for the last eight-plus years. I am 100% dedicated to this job.” Patzloff also plans to continue to collaborate with teachers and parents to ensure that the programs used in Edina Schools are improving the learning of all students. “As a school board member, I will continue what I’ve been doing, which is working with the community first and parents to understand what their issues and concerns are,” Patzloff said. “The school board is so important because we are there to serve the community.” 

Linda Friede: 

Sophie Charnell

Also a newcomer candidate, Linda Friede is a former Edina elementary school teacher, and currently works as a private math tutor. Her interest in the Edina math curriculum led her to begin attending school board meetings, which inspired her to run for school board. She believes that her experiences as a teacher, parent of two Edina graduates, and an Edina citizen of 30 years give her multiple lenses to view the educational system. Like Shaw, Friede hopes that the school board will increase focus on the academic success of every child. “I’m very committed to the idea that, no matter where you fall on the spectrum, that you go to school to learn every day,” Friede said. “And that sounds pretty basic, but I think it’s important to never forget that every morning, we have the opportunity to advance their learning.” Should she be elected, Friede would like to increase the involvement of parents, administration, and teachers in policy-making. “It’s a collaborative process. It needs to involve the community,” Friede said. 

Lou Nanne: 

Sophie Charnell

Like Shaw, Greene, and Friede, this is Lou Nanne’s first venture into Edina governance. He was raised in Edina and moved back a few years ago so his son could attend Edina Schools. He has served on two Edina boards since then. Nanne decided to run after becoming concerned with the numbers of residents leaving Edina Schools to attend private schools. “I had met with a bunch of neighbors who were pulling out left and right to go to private schools,” Nanne said. “There’s data indicating that Edina is lagging.” If elected, Nanne plans to work more with students. “We’re a voice on behalf of the students. There’s lots of focus on parents, but it’s for the students,” Nanne said. He also plans to make sure that the curriculum challenges every student. “I want to make sure there’s honors and AP courses across the board to ensure that there is a path to success for each and every student,” Nanne said. 

Garrett Knudsen was unavailable for an interview.