Candidates vie for Precinct 3 chair on School Board
October 31, 2008
If there were a military-style ranking system for teachers, Gerd Holmsen-Aguilar might be considered a general.
Holmsen-Aguilar has walked a mile, and then some, in a teacher’s shoes. She knows what it’s like to get in front of a classroom with 30 children’s faces staring back at you and working with them every day. Holmsen-Aguilar said she worked for 40 years as a teacher in California.
At the urging of a few people, Holmsen-Aguilar decided to run for the Precinct 3 seat on the Park City Board of Education after David Chaplin of Precinct 1 announced his decision to return from the board. (Note: Precinct 3 includes the following areas: Lucky John/Park Meadows, Post Office/Eagle Point, The Canyons/West of SR224, West of Silver Springs Drive andQuarry Ranch/Ranch Creek.) Chaplin was the only educator on the board and Holmsen-Aguilar, and the people that encouraged her to run, felt it was important for another educator to fill his role.
"I’ve done a lot of bargaining," she says. It’s not surprising as she was a member of her local teacher’s union salary negation committee for 10 years and its chair for 3 years. She’s also been a Summit County Election Judge and part of Park City Leadership (Class 13). A handout from Holmsen-Aguilar said she also has more than "25 years of educational experience at the legislative level, representing the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association.
She’s since been in the Park City area for the last four years and moved here because of her family. A change of locale, though, didn’t keep her from seeking ways to be involved with education. Holmsen-Aguilar said has spent her time in Park City volunteering at McPolin Elementary School where she has a grandchild attending.
"I see a lot of good things going on," she said. "I see a lot of parental involvement and good administration."
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When it comes to the local school district, Holmsen-Aguilar said the budget is always a huge issue. Some other topics she expects to be discussed are vouchers, English Language Learners (ELL) and high-ability students’ needs. She believes more enrichment programs are needed.
The other major recurring issue in the district, Holmsen-Aguilar said, is teachers’ salaries. "I know that Utah’s very low, and that’s sad," she said. ""We need to look at salary schedule and bring them up. We need to look at other ways to help teachers." One possible solution she suggested was making local loans available to teachers to help covering living expenses and keep them in the community.
Of her opponent, Holmsen-Aguilar said, "I have respect for what Anne Bransford has done in the district." She adds, "[Bransford] has put her time into volunteering, being part of district and being part of her kids’ education."
Holmsen-Aguilar admits she hasn’t spent too much time visiting each school, but it’s something that can be remedied and she plans to do so. The main difference between herself and Bransford though, she said, is that she has been in the classroom. "I come at it from the other side, but I have also been a parent."