Four candidates face off for two open seats on South Summit Board of Education
September 12, 2018
In the race for the two open seats on the South Summit Board of Education, the bond is the name of the game.
Each of the four candidates recognizes the issue of overcrowding within the South Summit School District, and each believes a bond will help solve the issue, even after voters last year rejected a $58.65 million bond measure. They just have different ideas about what to bond for and how the master-planning process should look.
Hoyt Atkinson is challenging incumbent Steve Hardman for the seat in District 4, which encompasses Peoa, Weber Canyon and South Summit East. In District 5, which includes South Summit West, Stacy Maxfield is running against incumbent Debra Blazzard.
Atkinson, who worked in the district's transportation department for 10 years and has a son at South Summit High School, said the failure of the bond last November encouraged him to run, because he is worried about the future of the district if the Board is not able to pass a bond soon. He said the previous Board appeared to be divided on how much to bond for, and that it did not adequately communicate information about the bond to the public.
"I would like to see the school Board be able to work together, be able to make a decision and everybody to get on board with the decision and do what's best for the kids," he said. "We need a bond."
He said improving communication with the public about the bond and other school processes is one of his priorities. He favors bonding for an elementary school, because he said it would be more affordable and could serve the growing population in the south end of the Kamas Valley.
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His other priority is to find ways to improve incentives to attract and retain high-quality employees.
Hardman agrees that communication needs to improve within the Board, which he said he learned while going through the bond process last year. He has been on the Board for two terms and, prior to that, worked in the district for 24 years. He has several grandchildren in the district.
He wants to remain on the Board because he hopes to see the bond passed, and he said his experience learning from the Board's successes and failures will help him be a better Board member.
"As a Board, we did not sell the bond well," he said. "No one was on the same page, so to speak. And if you are going to ask people to spend their money, they want to know what they are spending it on."
This time around, he said he hopes to go door-to-door and to have more of an open dialogue with residents in the district boundaries. He is in favor of pursuing a bond to construct a high school.
He also hopes to see the district continue to improve its program offerings for students, including adding more diverse classes and clubs.
Blazzard, who is completing her first term on the Board, said she originally ran because there were some changes she wanted to see as a parent of five children in the district. She said she has not been able to accomplish all that she wanted to, particularly as it pertains to the bond. Her experience, she said, would be beneficial.
"I know where things are at currently," she said. "Someone else would have to play catch up and get up to speed, because I think we are on a timing issue. It is pretty critical to know where things are at."
She also wants to see more diverse classes offered to students. And she said the current Board did not excel in its communication about the bond, something she would like to change. She is in favor of a bond for a high school, because she said it would give the district more time before it would need to bond again.
Her challenger, Stacy Maxfield, has four children in the district and, like Blazzard, wants to be on the Board because making a difference is important to her. She has volunteered in the district for the last few years, holding leadership positions in various parent-teacher organizations.
Maxfield said she has considered running for the seat for the last few years, and decided this year that she wanted to help the district as it undergoes changes to tackle the overcrowding issues. She was in favor of the bond and upset when it did not pass, because she said the schools are at their capacity now, and the student population is expected to keep growing.
As someone who attended the district from elementary through high school, she said her perspective observing the changes in the Kamas Valley would help her serve the community and understand its needs.
To accompany the growth, she, like the other candidates, hopes to see additional clubs and opportunities for students, especially in the high school.
"As we are growing bigger, I think we need more programs for kids that are a higher variety," she said. "I think all the kids need a place, and something they can do."