Park Record 2018 Voter Guide: South Summit School District Board of Education District 4
October 17, 2018
With Election Day approaching, and mail-in ballots on their way to residents, The Park Record asked candidates to answer a series of questions in their own words in order to help voters make informed decisions. View the answers of candidates in other races here.
Note: District 4 comprises neighborhoods such as Peoa, Weber Canyon and South Summit East.
Why are you running for a seat on the South Summit Board of Education and what are your qualifications?
Steve Hardman (Incumbent): I am running for school board to be able to help successfully pass the bond our district is in dire need of and that we will be asking the residents of our community to support. I have been on the board for the past 8 years and I feel I have gained a firm insight on what is needed and wanted for our students.
Hoyt Atkinson: I have chosen to run for School Board to give back to the community. The current board has done a good job, but sometimes a change is needed. I have lived in the South Summit School District my entire life. I was educated in South Summit Schools. I worked for the District as a bus driver and a school bus trainer. I served on the hiring committee while I was a bus driver. I have been a business owner in the district for 38 years. I feel that working for the district and being a business owner qualifies me to make important decisions about our children's education.
The growing population of the district is a concern, with schools reaching, or exceeding, their capacities. Given the failure of the bond measure on last year's ballot meant to address the issue, what should the Board of Education do differently as it moves forward with master planning? Are you in favor of another bond?
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Hardman: To get the bond to pass the board needs to be more informative to the public as to what we are proposing to build. This has not been very clear in the past. There needs to be more transparency so the tax payers know exactly where their money is going and what they are being asked to support. I do support the bond as our schools are very close to max capacity at present.
Atkinson: I feel the current school board has not been able to agree on what direction our district is going. Communication between the board and the community has been an issue. There are many different conversations going on as to how the bond money was going to be used. The board needs to effectively work together; not individuals with a personal agenda. Together, they need to present the bond proposal to the community. The plan needs to be solid. The tax payers deserve honest answers as to how their tax dollars are being spent. The board needs to communicate honestly and openly with the community. I feel it is each board members responsibly to take a bond proposal to the voters in their precinct. I believe though open communication the bond has a better chance of passing. Yes, I am in favor of another bond.
The Board recently approved a tax hike to fund a salary increase aimed at helping attract and retain teachers. Did you support the tax increase? What else can the district do to continue attracting teachers?
Hardman: I supported the tax increase as it is very expensive to live in the South Summit, Summit County areas. Hiring and retaining good teachers could and will be effected by the cost of living in our areas. For our employees that qualify, we offer fully funded health insurance, state retirement and life insurance. We try to keep the class sizes to a manageable level.
Atkinson: Yes. We need to attract and retain good teachers, and staff. We need to look at the future, as many of our teachers and staff are retiring, or leaving the profession. We need to better recognize all employees for the job they do. As a board, we need to improve employee morale. Great morale starts with board, and works its way thought the district. As with any business, people are the greatest asset. The district needs to keep working to provide competitive salaries and benefit package. We should be offering the same, or better benefits as our neighboring districts. We should be actively recruiting for the best candidates to fill open positions. We need to reward those employees that are going the extra mile.
What is the number one thing you would like to change in the district? How would you accomplish it? Please be specific.
Hardman: One thing I would really like to see excel and progress is our Sterling Scholar program. This is something that may require a class period to give the participants insight as to what is expected.
Atkinson: Preparing our students for the future. We need to better prepare our students for their future. We need to do this at all grade levels. As educators, we need to provide every student the opportunity to excel. This means offering more classes for college or career advancement. I feel we are very limited in this area. To solve this problem, we need to add more classrooms and add more instructors.
We need to invest in technology. Our students need the current technology to gain their success. I feel we are falling behind in providing our students the necessary tools for success. I will look for ways to fund adding advanced placement classes. Every Student needs access to a smart device. Many of our neighboring districts provide this technology to students. Once again, we need to communicate this need to the community.
How can the district more effectively use its limited budget to prepare students for the future?
Hardman: As board members we are not qualified teachers. We have some very good employees educated in this profession that we need to better communicate with to meet the needs of their classrooms and students.
Atkinson: We need to prioritize our spending. I feel we need to put more money towards class room instruction. We need to look at our budget and implement changes where needed. Often times we spend money on things that reap no educational value. We need to think outside the box. We need to look at different ways we can bring revenue into our district.
How do you differ from your opponent?
Hardman: My opponent and I have both been employed with the district in the past. I worked for the district for 24 years and have served on the board for 8. We may both have different view points on what we feel is important but I feel my experience on the board in the past is critical as to what is needed at this time.
Atkinson: I have a son currently attending high school. By having a child attending school in the district, I have a better understanding of the current education process. I was employed by the district. I worked with the current administration as an employee. I feel we can work together to make important decisions. I will work to improve communication between the school district and the community. I will welcome feedback from the community. I will work to bring positive change to improve our district.
According to the Summit County Clerk's Office, ballots for the Nov. 6 election are set to begin arriving by mail on Friday, Oct. 19. Ballots returned through the mail must be postmarked by Nov. 5. Residents can register to vote online or at the Clerk's Office through Oct. 30. Same-day registration will also be available at four voting assistance centers throughout the county on Election Day. Visit http://co.summit.ut.us/281/Voter-Registration-Elections for more information.