Saint Paul, Minn. (November 30, 2010) – Saint Paul Public Schools Board of Education Director Vallay Varro announced Tuesday that she will step down from her seat on the Board, effective Dec. 14, 2010. The resignation leaves fellow Hmong board member Kazoua Kong Thao as the only other Asian member. Varro, who had been Education Director for Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, has accepted a new position as executive director at the Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now (MinnCAN).
MinnCAN is a new nonprofit advocacy organization that will work to build a movement of education reformers across the state by running a results-oriented advocacy campaign and bringing together teachers, parents, entrepreneurs, business community members, philanthropists, activists, elected officials, neighbors and young people to create the political will to enact smart public policies that ensure every Minnesota child has access to great public schools.
“Launching and leading this new statewide effort is going to take all of the time I can muster and it wouldn’t be fair to the people of Saint Paul to have a Board member who couldn’t give that position the time it deserves,” Varro said.
SPPS Board Chair Elona Street-Stewart said Tuesday that Varro has been an integral part of the Board of Education.
“In the year that she has served on the Board, Director Varro’s voice and strong leadership have helped guide the District through difficult decisions in order to advance our mission of providing a premier education for all of our students,” Street-Stewart said. “The wisdom and dedication she exhibited will be missed, but I know her new position will allow her to bring those traits to benefit students and families throughout the state.”
State statute requires the Board of Education to appoint a temporary replacement to fill Varro’s Board seat for the one year remaining on her term. Street-Stewart said the Board expects to announce a process for filling the vacant seat at the regular Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010.
Varro won the SPPS Board (ISD 625) seat on November 3, 2009, taking 58.8 percent of 74,305 votes in 104 Precincts to defeat challenger Pat Igo. She had intended to run for school board in the 2011 election but chose the 2009 special election with the announcement that Board Member Tom Conlon would resign to move his family out east. She won the DFL Endorsement in June.
Varro campaigned as a “young, next generation DFL’r, an educator and administrator who has worked with senior district staff and school board, along with state and national partners.” She believes in strong, proactive leadership and accountability.
As Education Policy Director, Varro said she brought established partnerships with state and private funding sources, and experience in working to narrow the achievement gap with the city and school district.
Varro comes from a Hmong refugee family and was raised in Appleton, Wisconsin. She earned both her undergraduate and masters degree in Education from the University of Minnesota. She served as a program manager at the Minnesota Literacy Council, a director at AmeriCorps Minnesota Reading Corps, and was a classroom teacher at the University of Saint Catherine Pre-K Education Center.
Varro lives in East Saint Paul with her spouse, Chris, and their two children.