Immediate family: Mary, my wife of 37 years, and our sons, Thomas and Patrick
Community you live in: Mountain Park Ranch area of Ahwatukee
How long have you lived in the Kyrene district? Since 2001.
Educational background: Attended elementary and high school in Tucson. BA in journalism from University of Arizona in 1980. Earned an Arizona teaching certificate through Arizona State University in 2005. Returned to ASU and earned master’s degree in educational leadership and supervision and Arizona principal’s certificate in 2013.
What district do/did your children attend elementary, middle and high school and were they public schools?
Both my sons attended Kyrene Monte Vista Elementary School, Kyrene Altadena Middle School and Desert Vista High School. All are public schools.
Occupation: I retired from teaching in the Kyrene School District in 2015. Previously I worked as a journalist.
Community involvement: Active volunteer in the community since moving to Ahwatukee. Most recently I’ve volunteered as a teacher at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, a photographer for the Arizona Science Center and a photographer and writer for Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest.
Kyrene School District involvement: Parent volunteer while my sons were in school. Taught grades 3, 4 and 5 at Sierra Elementary School and sixth-grade language arts at Aprende Middle School. Teacher representative on several district committees.
Why are you running for school board?
Public service and volunteering are important to me. Since retiring from teaching I’ve missed involvement in public education. It’s the foundation for successful lives and communities. I’m running because I want to give back to Kyrene by improving our schools and the educational experience for all students.
How should a board member carry out their duties?
A board member owes the community a thoughtful, reasoned approach that sets aside preconceived ideas and biases and focuses upon a thorough review of pertinent facts, consideration of input from all stakeholders and, in the end, honest, defendable choices that maintain a focus on children.
How do you define a school board member’s role?
The board has two primary jobs: Hire a superintendent and approve a budget. But boards also provide citizens democratic control over their public schools. Therefore, board members should seek out and consider public opinion and embrace concepts of openness, transparency and inclusion.
What is the district’s most compelling need that is not being addressed by the board right now?
Kyrene should revitalize the sense of community that helped make the district great. Everyone from students and parents, teachers and staff, business owners and taxpayers should feel represented and respected. Many difficult decisions await and success requires everyone’s help. Kyrene is stronger when we work together.
How would you propose addressing that need?
Meetings should be in rooms large enough to accommodate visitors. Board documents should be available to the public in a timely manner. Occasionally, board meetings should be held in school multipurpose rooms to facilitate participation by everyone. The board should support openness, transparency and inclusion at every opportunity.
How would you rate the superintendent’s job performance: Good
Overall, I believe the superintendent has made a positive impact since taking over in 2016. She faced devastating funding cuts and a wide-ranging state audit that found faults with many aspects of the district. A strategic plan is now in place and efforts are being made to improve Kyrene.
Will you maintain the board policy of televising meetings live then archiving the videos?
Yes. I believe this is an important and valuable way of providing public access to meetings. In fact, I think all board meetings, not just the main sessions on Tuesday nights, should be videotaped and archived.
Should Kyrene consider merging with Tempe Union?
No. This question has been considered and rejected more than once. In fact, it was posed to superintendents of the Kyrene and Tempe Union school districts just a month ago. Both superintendents agree their districts are too large to combine without negative impacts on students.
What three personal skills/attributes would you bring to the board?
Patience, important for public officials who need to listen to diverse opinions. Perspective, necessary to weigh facts and opinions before making decisions. Experience as an educator, because it’s difficult to imagine the complexities of the job unless you’ve worked in a classroom.
What, if anything, should the board do to improve school security?
Kyrene already has made significant safety improvements to schools. An additional improvement would be funding full-time school resource officers (police officers). The board also should promote regular communication with local law enforcement experts to help keep all Kyrene safe.
What is the district’s most significant achievement in the last two years?
Navigating the endless wave of state funding cuts ($4.6 billion statewide since 2009) without closing schools and, at the same time, finding ways to expand educational choices for parents.
Why should people vote for you?
I have a long history of positive involvement in Kyrene, experience as both a parent and teacher in Kyrene, a master’s degree in education and a demonstrated commitment to public service. My only goal is clear: To provide the best possible education to all students in Kyrene.