School Board elections often fly under the radar. The ballots often arrive during the busy hunting season and must be submitted by mail. According to the Alaska Division of Elections website, turnout for the 2014 school board elections was 13.21% of the registered voters.
This year we have four candidates running for the CRSD Board of Education. Each candidate was asked to respond to the following question: “What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Copper River School District Board of Education?” This week’s edition of the CRSD Snippets is an opportunity for the candidates to speak directly to you, the voter. Here are their statements as submitted (in alphabetical order, ladies first):
Jaime Matthews (Section I Seat B)
Thank you for the opportunity to serve our community, teachers, staff, and students by running for the CRSD Board of Education. I have been a very active parent in the CRSD the last nine years, playing various roles in our PTO, Advisory School Board, Technology Advisory Committee, and several of the activities my children have been involved in.
As a future board member, I look forward to providing input and working alongside the administration on the challenges and opportunities our district faces. Decreased funding and increased regulation are two big challenges. It is important to be efficient and get the maximum benefit out of each dollar for the district as a whole. As more regulation is implemented, this is a burden on smaller schools. Finding a way to partner with other school districts would allow the CRSD to meet the regulations at a shared cost.
Although we have some challenges, we also have many opportunities. A great community combined with wonderful teachers help shape our students to be responsible, well educated adults. Education is always changing and I look forward to helping shape that change for our school district.
Cheryl Sparks (Section I Seat B)
As a member of the CRSD Board of Education, I would like to continue working for the community by creating a stable board presence. I feel continuity in any environment is very important so that you can continue to grow your programs. Right now, even in a very unstable economy, the school district is continuing forward, bringing more opportunities for students.
Forward thinking in a fast paced, ever changing world is the challenge that our staff at the school district faces every day and are doing an excellent job at meeting head on. They have increased the student numbers in the vocational education classes by moving away from the traditional class schedule to a new innovative schedule. Offering more online classes and academies through Chugach has opened many more opportunities than would ever have been possible in a district our size.
I would like to thank everyone that has supported me in the past, and would ask again that you give me the opportunity to be a part of the great team at the Copper River School District.
James Fields (Section I Seat C)
As a member of the CRSD Board of Education, I will continue to work towards improving the opportunities of our students and also work toward increasing student achievement. In a time of financial uncertainty it is critical that the CRSD continue to improve what we have now, and also be looking at what’s next in education. The Copper River School District is known throughout the state as a district of high integrity both in administration and education. It is my goal to continue pushing our district in a direction that will benefit every student that has the opportunity to be educated in our great district and community.
Increasing achievement in every student is a task that takes much more than board members; it takes every person in the school and community. It takes a culture surrounding students that says, “we expect more and we will help you get there.” That’s what I want every student to feel. I want the Copper Basin to have a culture of high expectations for our students so that they can achieve more than they think they can. Please help me in making this a reality in every student’s experience here in our community.
Mark Somerville (Section II Seat E)
I have lived full-time in the Copper Basin since 2006 and my three children attended Kenny Lake School from grade school through graduation. I have served on the CRSD Board of Education for three years. Over those 3 years the CRSD has gone through significant changes. Enrollment has dropped in all our schools; state standards have changed with increased expectations for our students and teachers; our curriculum materials have become outdated and required renewal; and our budgets have been greatly reduced. These changes have required the CRSD to seek new directions and most importantly new resources through which to provide content to our students so they may graduate prepared for their futures, whether they be college or workforce bound.
The future for the CRSD looks to have many of these same challenges to contend with. My role as a school board member will be to review and vote on the direction the district will go to overcome these challenges. The CRSD must provide the broadest and most challenging opportunities it can for our students. We must also ensure our schools remain the integral part of the community they have always striven to be.
On behalf of our students and community, I offer a special “thank you” to each of the candidates for running for the CRSD Board of Education. Please remember to send in your ballots by October 6th.