Park Record 2018 Voter Guide: South Summit School District Board of Education District 5
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 5 comprises South Summit West.
Why are you running for a seat on the South Summit Board of Education and what are your qualifications?
Debra Blazzard (Incumbent): I am running for school board again because I like to be involved in my community. We are at a critical time in our school district and plan to bond again in November 2019. I know the details of what we need to bond for and feel comfortable answering the communities questions as well as promoting the bond to ensure it will pass this time. My qualifications are serving the South Summit School District for almost four years on the Board of Education, an accounting background, a real estate agent and a love of children.
Stacy Maxfield: Quality education is the most important thing we can give our children. As a parent with 4 children in the district I am keenly aware of the needs of local students. I grew up in Kamas valley and attended South Summit from Elementary through High School. I have a BS degree from Utah State University in Public Health and Environmental Biology. I currently work as the Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Manager for AEEC, Environmental Engineering Division.
Community service is important to me. I have served as a volunteer to the South Summit school district in many capacities, including: 2 Years SSES Site Council, 2 Years SSMS Site Council, 2 Years SSES PTO Officer, and 1 Year SSMS PTO Officer.
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Through all of the years I have been involved with the South Summit school district both as a student, parent of students, and as a volunteer, I have seen the changes and growth of this community. I am deeply rooted in this community with parents and grandparents on both sides who attended school here. My work experience and my experience with the district as a volunteer will help me to make good decisions for students, teachers, and the public.
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?
Blazzard: Growth is one of our main concerns as a current school board. As a board, we have a plan to better educate and inform the community of why and what we need to bond for. We are planning to get an earlier start in communicating to the pubic and helping them understand so they can help inform others. I am in favor of another bond because I believe the students deserve a environment conducive to learning that engages and inspires them and where they have room to explore and create.
Maxfield: The growing population of the SS school district is of major concern to me. I believe the 2017 bond failed due to a lack of information reaching all voting groups prior to the vote. Many people did not understand the implications of this problem. There was not a clear plan communicated to the voters including location of the new school and details of how the bond money would be used. Unfortunately we as a district are not prepared for our current growth. I am in favor of another bond on the ballot and am disappointed that it is not on the ballot for 2018. Moving forward, I suggest a clear vision of the plan be transferred to voters through a united school board and appropriate marketing. I am in favor of building a new high school and realignment of grades in the existing schools.
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?
Blazzard: I did support the tax hike increase for our teachers salaries. I believe that if we are going to empower our kids, we have to first empower and appreciate our teachers and administrators. If the teachers are happy, the kids will most likely benefit from this tax increase. It’s no secret that teachers are underpaid. The cost of living in Summit County is expensive which makes it challenging to attract and retain good teachers. We need to be competitive to give our kids a chance at the best education possible.
Maxfield: I do support the tax increase. I am in favor of increasing teacher salaries to attract and retain teachers in our district. The cost of living in Summit County is very high. Increased teacher salaries are necessary in order to recruit and retain teachers in this area. Retention of current staff saves tax dollars due to decreased time spent recruiting, hiring, and training new personnel. Excellent administration support and mentoring programs will also help attract and retain teachers. We live in an amazing area where many people would love to live. Increasing salaries, administrative support, mentoring programs, and community involvement through volunteers will help to attract and retain high quality individuals.
What is the number one thing you would like to change in the district? How would you accomplish it? Please be specific.
Blazzard: The world is full of negativity and bullying. We need to teach kids at a young age that this is not okay. One of the sayings at our schools is “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” We could eliminate a lot of the problems in our world today if people would do this. I would like to see the students and teachers be more united, helpful and kind to each other. We have a lot of students and teachers that excel at this, but I would like to give the principals and teachers the resources needed to implement a program to accomplish this. If teachers and children truly watch out and care for each other, then kids will enjoy and feel safe coming to school. This creates a better atmosphere that fosters learning and growth.
Maxfield: I would like to see an increase in programs available to our students. We have historically been a small district without many of the opportunities of a larger school. The first South Summit string orchestra has recently started during class time in the middle and high school. It has been made possible by local volunteers. I support making the orchestra part of the long term curriculum. As we grow, we need to ensure there are programs available for all students. Academic programs and choices for students are my primary focus. We need to have appropriate technology available for 21st century leaners including on-line books.
How can the district more effectively use its limited budget to prepare students for the future?
Blazzard: It would be ideal if the State of Utah and the federal government would allow us more flexibility as to how funds are best spent in our district, but unfortunately our hands are tied. With the limited budget the district receives, I believe one of the key factors that benefits us is finding teachers that really want to teach and will engage our students in the best learning regardless of the funds received. I know this is not an easy task, that is one of the reasons for the tax hike increase.
Maxfield: Using innovative technology we can give our students more options to help prepare them for the next step. We have invested in classroom technology including laptops and Ipads for students. We need to use these existing investments for programs that will prepare all of our students to be successful beyond their K-12 experience, including on-line books. It is difficult to know what college will look like for our current elementary students. As a district, we must recruit, support, and retain excellent teachers and provide them with the technology and tools to help our students be successful.
How do you differ from your opponent?
Blazzard: I have been on the Board of Education for almost four years, during this time I have spent countless hours studying educational issues, learning the policies and procedures and talking with educators and administrators. Maxfield is an amazing opponent that would do a great job on the school board.
Maxfield: My opponent and I have very similar views on many topics. I have supported the bond and building of a high school throughout the 2017 bond process and post-bond failure discussions.
I differ from my opponent in that I bring a fresh perspective to the board without bias based on past decisions. I have volunteered my time in different areas of the South Summit School district and understand what many of the needs of students and faculty are. As a Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Manager, my work experience has provided me with opportunities to make decisions regarding risk management, health and safety of personnel, environmental issues, and budgets as well as given me teaching and public speaking opportunities. These experiences will be beneficial in helping to make our schools a safer place for students and providing insight into building on land with potential environmental implications/issues.
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.