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Posted: Sunday, October 19, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 9:12 am, Wed Apr 18, 2012.

Ross Rob - candidate for the Kyrene School District Governing Board 1. What is your personal connection to the district? Did you, or do any of your children, attend school here? I have lived in the East Valley for 30 years, the last 19 of those years in Kyrene. I have two children currently in the Kyrene system (fourth grade and seventh grade) and an older child who graduated from the Kyrene system. I have served on the Kyrene School Board (2005 to 2006), on the Waggoner Elementary School Site Council (2002 to present). Beyond that factual and family connection to Kyrene, my personal connection is grounded in a belief in quality public education for all who desire it. 2. What will be your first step to improve education for students in the district you're running for?Since I have been on the board and have the requisite background, experience and relationships, my first step will be to work with the board and the superintendent to immediately propose a "Cycle of Excellence Initiative" to improve education in a meaningful way. That "cycle" can be explained as:- Education is delivered in the individual school and classroom by teachers, support personnel and principals. That is how most students and families experience Kyrene and our focus on education should be at the classroom and school level.- While it is not easy to find the money in public education in Arizona, to whatever extent we can pay our employees who deliver our services as much as possible and provide the best public education environment in which to teach and learn, we will attract and retain the best and the brightest employees in Kyrene.- To whatever extent we attract and retain the best and brightest staff, we will provide superior education to our students and will sustain and grow Kyrene's reputation for quality.- To whatever extent we sustain that reputation for excellence, we will maintain enrollment (not only from outside the district but by retaining in-district students as well), which will allow us to increase pay and be competitive in Arizona's enrollment-based budget system.So it follows that good pay and a great teaching and learning environment within which we deliver our services will sustain and grow Kyrene's excellence. 3. Are you for or against district unification? Why or why not?While the concept of unification is valid for certain school districts in certain situations, as it relates to the specific combining of Kyrene, Tempe Elementary and Tempe Union, I am opposed to that redistricting. My reasons start with the lack of any funding for what will be enormous costs associated with the implementation of the merger of these districts and the existence of too many unanswered questions concerning teacher and staff compensation alignment, the loss of Career Ladder funding and questions about the financial efficiencies that can really be realized from a 44,000 student district.In my opinion, separate from the redistricting ballot question in Kyrene, the critical issue that voters must consider with regard to redistricting is putting the right individuals on the Kyrene board to deal with either redistricting outcome. Even though I am not in favor of the Kyrene unification, should it pass, I am prepared to accept the will of the voters and to use my experience, knowledge and skills to work with my fellow board members to implement that unification with as little disruption to education as possible. That will be hard work that will take expertise in business, finance, human resources and communication. It will involve working closely with the boards of the other combined districts on some very difficult questions. I have the experience on the Kyrene board and many years of private sector business and civic experience to ably represent Kyrene in that transition.  But even if redistricting fails, I am committed to working with Kyrene's administration to encourage the further alignment of curriculum with Tempe Elementary and Tempe Union High School District, which seems to me can occur with or without the formal combining of the districts. Further, I will work with the board and the district's finance management personnel to sustain Kyrene's standing among the top of districts of its size in Arizona in putting funding into the classroom. Currently, Kyrene ranks 1st in the state among districts between 5,000 and 19,999 students in percentage of budget spent in the classroom. Kyrene is spending 9.7 percent more than the state average in the classroom and 22 percent less than the state average on administration.  4. What is your highest level of education?I received an MBA from Arizona State University. 5. What will you do specifically for teachers in your district?This is a question that invites an answer full of lofty promises that are not based in financial reality. As such, I will not offer mere promises. I will do for teachers what I did when I was on the board previously. I will (1) always listen to their concerns, (2) seek their input on matters where that input serves to better inform me on an issue, (3) treat teachers (and administrators and support personnel) with honesty, respect and gratitude for the work they do and (4) keep them informed of the facts regarding district finance and economics. I have been endorsed in this election by the Kyrene Teachers' Association and I hope parents will ask teachers in their schools about me and my record before casting their ballot.  6. What is the biggest thing you have done to help your own child's education?The biggest thing I have done (with my wife) is to love my children unconditionally and to try to be a mentor and role model regarding the importance of hard work and of giving back to the community, both civically and charitably. That is a message that I would like to extend to all Kyrene children and stakeholders if I am elected. 7. What were your favorite and least favorite school subjects when you were growing up?Favorite : American history (I am guessing recess is not an acceptable answer)Least favorite: English8. Please list your name, age, campaign Web site and a phone number you would like the public to have access to.Ross Robb, 53, (480) 446-0559  Ellen Shamah - candidate for Kyrene School District Governing Board 1. What is your personal connection to the district? Did you, or do any of your children, attend school here? I was a classroom teacher in the Kyrene School District for 20 years. I have three grandchildren that are currently attending Kyrene schools and two grandchildren who have graduated from the district. 2. What will be your first step to improve education for students in the district you're running for?The district is doing an excellent job educating our children. I promise that I will listen to all suggestions and be an advocate for the best. 3. Are you for or against district unification? Why or why not?I am against unification. There are too many unanswered questions, such as commensurate salaries, integrating technology, materials and curriculum. Unification will cost millions and there is no funding behind the measure. 4. What is your highest level of education?I have a master's degree, plus 30 additional graduate credits. 5. What will you do specifically for teachers in your district?I would love to say that I would help give teachers the salary they deserve. In this economy I know that is not possible. I can give them the respect they deserve.I believe the teachers should have an added voice in decisions that affect the classroom. For example, when school began at the end of July, the teachers were informed that to save on energy costs the buildings would not be air-conditioned on the weekends. Teachers needed that quiet, uninterrupted time to plan and prepare lessons, and students need well-prepared teachers. If collaboration occurred I am sure that a compromise could have been reached that would have satisfied both parties. 6. What is the biggest thing you have done to help your own child's education?When I retired a wonderful parent created a scrapbook for me and asked my own children what it was like to grow up with a mom as a teacher.One of my sons wrote: "The best part of having a teacher for a mom was that she never "fixed" any problems for me. Instead, she taught me how to fix them myself. For example, if I had a conflict with a teacher, she wouldn't speak to the teacher about it. Rather, she would assist me in making a plan of how to deal with the situation, and then I would be the one to talk with the teacher and work out the conflict." 7. What were your favorite and least favorite school subjects when you were growing up?I loved learning and still do. I especially liked math, science and reading. 8. Please list your name, age, campaign Web site and a phone number you would like the public to have access to.Ellen Shamah, 65, (480) 345-7664  Sam Holdren - candidate for the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board 1. What is your personal connection to the district? Did you, or do any of your children, attend school here? I am a member of the Tempe-Chandler Parent Teacher Student Association. While I have no children, my family members/relatives attended school here. 2. What will be your first step to improve education for students in the district you're running for?Health and safety is my No. 1 priority. We have to make sure our campuses and facilities are safe and that we create healthy learning environments. Beyond that, we need to upgrade our technology in the classroom and throughout the district. We are serving 21st century students who need a 21st century education to compete in the workforce. 3. Are you for or against district unification? Why or why not?While I think redistricting is a great idea, I oppose the plan on the November ballot. Proponents of the initiative acknowledge that the current proposal doesn't allow sufficient time for districts to effectively implement the plan without disrupting school activities. If elected, I will work with parents, community members and district officials to advocate for a redistricting solution that will benefit everyone without negatively affecting the district in the short-term. 4. What is your highest level of education?I received my BA in political science at Arizona State University. I'm currently finishing my master's degree in social work and a graduate certificate in nonprofit leadership and management. 5. What will you do specifically for teachers in your district?The teachers who have been working for decades to educate our students were promised health care benefits when they retired. That's a promise the district did not keep when they cut those benefits this year. The district reportedly saved $1.3 million, but then spent about the same amount with a 1 percent salary increase across the board.While I will have to make tough decisions when I am on the board, I will not make those decisions alone. I will insist that the district collaborate with our teachers to find a solution that is meaningful. Our students deserve the best qualified teachers in the classroom, and to retain those teachers we've got to keep the promises we make to them. 6. What is the biggest thing you have done to help your own child's education?While I do not have children, I am passionate about providing students with access to the highest quality education. I've advocated on the state and local levels for education policy that empowers students and increases student learning.I recently had the chance to work with high school students as a youth mentor and advocate, where I met students who had to overcome major obstacles in their lives to have their basic needs met. I helped them overcome those obstacles so they could be better students. That experience had a deeply personal impact. I will work to ensure we meet all of our students needs. 7. What were your favorite and least favorite school subjects when you were growing up?I really enjoyed government and U.S. history and, of course, I liked the hands-on classes like photography, journalism and student leadership. The class I struggled with the most was chemistry. 8. Please list your name, age, campaign Web site and a phone number you would like the public to have access to.Sam Holdren, 27, www.samholdren08.com, (480) 584-3263

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