School board candidates speak at forumBy Trisha Maldonado
In an effort to give interested parents, teachers, students and community members the opportunity to meet the Douglas Unified School District Board of Education candidates, KDAP Radio and the Douglas Education Association (DEA) hosted a forum on Oct. 15 in the Douglas High School Auditorium.
Incumbents running for re-election are Susan Kramer, Michael Ortega and Mario Ramos. They are being challenged by Natalio Sabal and Louie Tartaglia.
The forum started with each candidate giving a three minute introduction of their qualifications and why they were running for a seat on the school board.
They were then asked six questions and given two minutes to answer each question.
The first question asked was: In your opinion what is the districts greatest weakness and would you do to improve it?
Candidates were all in agreement the biggest weakness the district faces is the lack of parent involvement.
“There are two dozen people here tonight; it should be a packed auditorium,” Tartaglia said. “People have to be more involved with their children’s education and what is going on in their school.”
“I think that the district biggest issue is communication with the community as a whole. I believe the budget override is an example of that. It was a resounding message back to the district as a whole the school board administration and staff and so forth that better communication is necessary,” Ortega said. “What I would do and what I would encourage is round tables we have the parent teacher councils but I would also suggest that the administration and the staff get the word out to talk about the positives that come out in this district. It is difficult when you are not able to provide that information on regular basis.”
The next questions asked was: What would you propose to do to get qualified teachers in all classrooms?
“Salaries, we are behind our times when it comes to teacher salaries we need to improve on that,” Sabal said.
Other questions asked at the forum were: Describe your view of the roles of the school board and the superintendent. What is the ideal relationship between the two?
“The role of the school board is to set and enforce policy. The superintendent’s job is to carry out directives from the school board. She is there to make sure schools and administration is working properly,” Kramer said. “We should be in constant communication the school board should be informed of what is going on if there are issues.”
Current board president Ramos said “our main priority is that we follow all state statues and mandates and all policies we have. Our number one priority is working together to make sure everything is done correctly for our kids.”
“Can you explain what would you do if anything if proposition 204 gets rejected,” the event moderator Howard Henderson asked the candidates.
“Our kids deserve the same chance to success we had, or a better one. Going backward on education investment is not right, it makes Arizona look as if it doesn’t want our kids to be prepared to compete with the future global economy,” Ramos answered. “Prop. 204 would add approximately $2.2 million to the DUSD budget. This increase to our budget would bring much needed funding for the many areas where we have had to cute over the last several years.”
Other questions present to the candidates were: If you become a school board member what would you do to direct the school board administration to make the website into a valuable communications tool with the community that it can be properly maintained?
The candidates felt the website was properly maintained and was better when compared to other districts in the state of our size.
The event gave parents and local residents a chance to hear the candidates’ vision for the future of Douglas schools and helped local voters make informed decisions at the polls on Nov. 6.