FARMINGTON — Five candidates running for District 3 of the Davis School District Board of Education shared their experience, their views and their passions at Knowlton Elementary last Thursday.
The three men and two women spoke of their backgrounds in business, in education, in the political arena and in the home, as they gave interested residents from Farmington, Kaysville, Fruit Heights and Centerville reasons to vote for them.
Thursday’s Meet the Candidates night was sponsored by Davis County’s League of Women Voters and moderated by Sheryl Allen.
Hiram Alba, who has a degree in engineering from the University of Utah and owns a consulting firm in Bluffdale, said that not only does Utah have the lowest rate in per pupil spending in the nation, but Davis County has the second lowest rate in the state.
“We need to do an efficiency audit first to find out where we can cut back, where we can improve,” he said.
His second priority is teacher moral, something he is especially sensitive to because one of his daughters is a teacher in a Title 1 school.
“We need to attract and retain quality teachers,” he said. “Teacher moral is a key thing we need to consider.”
He also emphasized the need to reduce class sizes.
“I do think we need to stretch every dollar that we can possible stretch,” said David Nelson, an insurance executive who has raised six children in Davis County and now has “most” of his 14 grandchildren in Davis schools as well.
He also spoke to the importance of retaining teachers.
“We need to be competitive,” he said. “Teachers need to be able to feel they are valued and the pay needs to be commensurate to the job they’re doing.”
Julie Tanner has been a teacher and is a parent and a citizen.
“I represent each of these groups,” she said, “I want there to be a safe forum, to find places where they can have safe dialogues and work through the heated issues that people feel very passionate about.”
Tanner said local control and team work are important to education.
She said teachers should be able to speak up even if they have different viewpoints, and said she would promote accurate feedback, honest and open discussions and supporting teachers in difficult situations with parents.
After a 32-year career in education, including 21 as a teacher and 11 as an administrator, Barbara Beard-White said she has “lived, worked and served in the trenches.”
She is concerned about meeting the needs of all children – including those who are autistic or in special education or other minorities, and listed ideas for bringing in teachers from more diverse backgrounds.
“We need to meet the needs of all those children,” she said, “and help the development of our students into wholesome individuals.”
Incumbent Peter Cannon said he believes that education works best in a free market economy where both students, teachers and schools compete.
He said he believes government employees should be held accountable to taxpayers and that high taxation hurts the economy.
“I don’t represent the teachers, I represent the taxpayers,” he said. “I don’t represent the children, I represent the parents. I stand for principles.”
Other issues discussed were teacher evaluations, school grades, Common Core and whether or not school board positions should be partisan.
All but Cannon, who said he has served in leadership positions in the Republican party, said school board positions should be non-partisan.
Cannon said he favored working with 200 delegates over campaigning to 30,000 voters.
White disagreed: “It’s about the child, not about the grownups putting their issues out. We should put the political arena to the side and say what is best for our students,” she said.
Tanner emphasized her willingness to talk with all parties, Alba spoke to the importance of better managing school trust lands funds and shrinking class sizes. Nelson said a good education helps kids soar and achieve.
Ballots have been sent out and should be returned by June 23.