Thanks to Southview Garden Center for their support.
After a two-hour special board meeting on Monday, January 11, the ISD 197 school board appointed Marcus Hill as the latest board member. He fills the seat vacated by Mendota Heights Mayor Stephanie Levine and beats out 22 other applicants. Hill will serve until Jan. 3, 2022, with his seat up for reelection on Nov. 2, 2021.
Last week the board narrowed the list of 23 applicants to two who were interviewed last night. The board was at a 3-3 stalemate for much of the meeting, with members Maureen Ramirez, John Chandler, and Brenda Corbett voting for candidate Daymond Dean, and Joanne Mansur, Terry Stamman, and Byron Schwab voting for Hill. Board members were impressed with the qualifications of both candidates. In the last round of voting, Corbett changed her vote to Hill, giving him the appointment.
Bringing Experience to Equity and Diversity
Hill has several years of experience as the chair of the Black Employee Resource Group at Best Buy, where he is senior manager of research and analytics. This experience is one of the reasons he feels he will be an asset to the school board, and points to lessons in collaboration and building allies.
“Our role is to build a community for Black employees at Best Buy to feel connected, to help the company recruit people of color, and provide cultural awareness across the entire company,” Hill said.
The district’s strategic plan speaks to increasing equity and diversity and closing the achievement gap. Chairperson Joanne Mansur asked about Hill’s work with the Black Employee Resource Group, and how that experience could assist the board in its goal to hire more diverse talent.
“My kids are having a great experience due to the commitment and dedication of our teachers,” Hill said. “But quite frankly, when I look around, I don’t see a lot of people that look like them. And I can tell you first hand that that representation does matter.”
His suggestions were to cast as broad a net as the district can to bring in talented teachers and build a pipeline of students that would want to come back and teach in the district.
“Start to plant that seed now,” Hill said. “Hire for today, grow for tomorrow.”
Paying It Forward
Hill grew up in Chicago and education was important to his family. He said his parents worked hard to provide him and his brothers with a quality education.
“A lot of my passion for joining the school board is around the opportunities I’ve had,” Hill said. “I want to ensure kids of all backgrounds have that same opportunity … this is a way of paying it forward.”
This is not the first time Hill has served on a school board. He served on the board of Holy Family Ministries in Chicago, a school started in 1985 for residents of the Cabrini Green housing project. When Hill started on the board, there were 150 students, and by the end of his tenure there were 375. The school had graduation rates of 80%, compared to 50% in the Chicago Public Schools, according to Hill.
Hill has three children in the district—a senior, a fifth grader, and a third grader. Hill will be the only Black board member on the current board and potentially the first to serve on the ISD 197 board (we were unable to confirm this).
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