Editor's Note: With 15 residents vying for just three open seats on the Richfield Public School District School Board, Patch will be featuring individual Q&As with the candidates before the Nov. 8, 2011 election.
Christine Maleck has lived in Richfield for 20 years and is running for what would be her first term as a Richfield School Board member. Maleck has nearly four years of experience on the [Richfield Public School District's] Financial Planning Advisory Committee—a committee that provides advisory service to the School Board.
Richfield Patch: Why did you decide to run for the Richfield School Board?
Christine Maleck: I love Richfield. I am invested in the community, and one of the best ways to strengthen it is to build and maintain a strong school system. Richfield is unique; many who leave after high school return later in life to raise their own families in Richfield. My family is just one example; my husband attended and graduated from Richfield schools. A strong school system and “small town” community spirit are largely responsible for why our fellow citizens also love Richfield. Personally, I am energized through my volunteer efforts in our schools and community. I thrive on making even a small difference for one child, one teacher, or one school. Becoming a member of the school board is the next step for me in making a strong positive impact in my community.
Richfield Patch: What do you see as your particular qualifications for serving on the Richfield School Board?
Maleck: My education in the sciences has taught me to thoughtfully and critically analyze information. In my experience as a technical supervisor in a cytogenetics laboratory, I have faced financial challenges similar to those in public education. I have experience utilizing technology and innovation to maintain high quality results with fewer resources. ...
My time as president of the PTO for and offered great hands-on experience in organizing community support for the schools and working with teachers, staff and parents. It also gave me a profound appreciation for the hard work the school staff does and the quality of the educational experience they provide. That close interaction in the schools strengthens my feelings of great pride in our schools and community and deepens my resolve to continue to be a part of it. I am a relentlessly hard worker and committed volunteer. I follow through on anything I sign up for. I can be counted on.
What do you think are the major issues facing the district in the coming years?
Continuing to provide a strong effective education to all Richfield students in a changing world.
With funding challenges putting pressure on district budgets, our ability to continue delivering an excellent education experience is challenged. Capitalizing on the current positive momentum of students returning to and moving into Richfield schools is one effective way to bring money into the district ... I don’t believe we can keep our hard-fought momentum without passing the current proposed referendum to prevent budget cuts in the next two years. I believe we need give the schools what they need to succeed and to continue to hold the district accountable, whether funding comes directly from Richfield residents or more indirectly from the state. ...
Narrowing the achievement gap while continuing to improve the academic performance of all students. We celebrate great diversity in our community and language barriers that accompany diversity present challenges to closing our achievement gap. The spirit of innovation seen in the  and R-STEM programs can be put to use in helping to continue to close that gap. Rethinking curriculum and leveraging technology are two avenues we should consider in our efforts to continuously improve academic performance ... I also think we should work to foster a sense of community for every family in the district. That’s how “small towns” work. Families who feel connected to the community get involved. ...
We need to promote all of the great things happening in Richfield Schools to current, new, and prospective Richfield Public Schools families and the entire Richfield community. Taxpayers need to see that they are making a great investment in their community. I have been consistently impressed as my children have moved [from school to school] ... there is something to serve and inspire every Richfield student. We need to share that message.
What are a few things voters should know about you?
I have organized many school community building and fundraising events, served as PTO president at Sheridan Hills and R-STEM, and served on the district's fiscal planning advisory committee.
Two of my favorite volunteer experiences in the classroom: teaching art masterpiece in first through third grade classes and teaching directed reading to children in my daughter’s fourth grade class. These experiences have given me a great appreciation for the work of Richfield Public Schools teachers and staff, along with a view into why they all work so hard to see their students succeed. There is nothing quite like seeing that spark of understanding with your own eyes.