Story Last modified at 9:47 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Two seats on Anchorage School Board open for election
Alaska Star staff
Two seats on the Anchorage School Board are open for election this year, one of which is being vacated by Eagle River resident, and board president, John Steiner. Steiner has fulfilled his term limit on the Board for Seat D. Four candidates are challenging for his soon-to-be vacated seat, and three are vying for Seat C.
Anchorage School Board seats are nonpartisan and are not tied to specific regions of the municipality. The Board currently has two Eagle River residents: Steiner, whose term expires, and Crystal Kennedy, who serves as vice president.
School Board Seat C
Priorities: Did not respond to questionnaire
Web site: None listed
Occupation: Currently a commercial airline pilot. Former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, test pilot and instructor; Griffin ran unsuccessfully for School Board Seat B in 2010.
Home: Eagle River
Family: Married with two adult daughters who graduated from the Anchorage School District
Priorities: Griffin, on his campaign Web site, lists his priorities as putting student interests first, raising expectations of students and leadership, using money more wisely (he criticizes the district's "elaborate buildings") and rewarding the best teachers with better pay. He supports charter and alternative schools, expanded technology education and transportation funding for those students in alternative or charter schools
Web site: www.griffinforanchorage.com
Occupation: Human resources professional for the past 30 years, current Anchorage School Board member for the past three years.
Family: Married, with three adult children who graduated from the Anchorage School District
Priorities: Higgins, the only Seat C candidate to complete a questionnaire, would work to "eliminate 'social promotions' of students academically unprepared for higher grades without an effective intervention program. Forty percent of children entering kindergarten are not prepared to learn. A comprehensive plan must be developed and implemented.
"Measuring academic progress of all children every year is critical to improving our schools. This information is critical for parents, teachers and the School Board. I championed this Board directive and it will begin this September.
A new budget process to evaluate the benefits of every public dollar. This is also a directive I championed and it will be fully implemented next year. Maximizing the value of all public funds should always be a top priority."
Web site: www.pathiggins4schoolboard.com
School Board Seat D
Occupation: Regional director of Providence Health and Services Alaska, and former member of the Alaska State Senate and House.
Family: Married, with two children, one in an Anchorage School District charter school, the other not yet in school.
Priorities: Guess lists her priorities as listening, with an open mind, to achieve better education for each child, budgeting by prioritizing needs and improving efficiency in administration, and "Being always mindful of taxpayer burden."
Web site: www.gretchenguess.com
Family: Married, with two adult children in college
Priorities: From his Facebook page, Nees writes that the Anchorage School District is "top heavy" and cuts should start there. Not all students should be in the general classroom, and vocational training needs to be enhanced, he says.
Web site: www.facebook.com/pages/nees-4-School-Board
Occupation: Bear Tooth food service worker
Home: Anchorage, but graduated from Chugiak High in 2001
Family: Married, no children (yet, he says)
Priorities: Says America has lost its values and morals, No Child Left Behind is not working, and that the state needs to pull away from federal funding and take local control. He says "family is the most profound and influential educator children will ever have."
Web site: Watch him at www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfNg2mDiupg
Family: Married with three children in the Anchorage School District
Priorities: Focusing on the basics of education, operating within the budget and upping personal responsibility among administrators, teachers and students.
Web site: www.tregtaylor.com
This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, March 30, 2011.