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Park Hill candidates
by Alan McArthur
In the Park Hill School District there are several candidates seeking to be on the district's board of education when voters head to the polls next Tuesday, April 7.
Last week, the district Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) held a candidate forum for citizens to ask questions of the candidates and get answers.
Only four of the six candidates attended the forum.
There are two three-year terms up for election in the district. There is also an unexpired two-year term up for election.
The two seats are currently held by Denise Schnell and John Thomas. They are facing a challenge from newcomer Lathem Scott.
Last year, Janice Bolin was appointed by the board to fill the unexpired term until April. She is being challenged by Dan Coronado and Mark Roy.
Neither Coronado nor Roy attended the forum.
The four candidates in attendance told about themselves and then answered questions submitted by the audience.
Bolin is an accountant with three children in the district and was appointed by the board in September 2008 to fill a spot vacated by Mike Otto.
Schnell was elected to the board in 2003 and had a background in nursing and social work before adopting children and staying at home.
Scott is in the banking industry and has children in the district. His wife and mother-in-law are both teachers in the district.
Thomas is currently the board president and was elected in 2003. He has two children one of which is still in the district. Thomas works for a human resources firm.
The first question asked was what the candidate's primary objective will be on the board.
Schnell said she wants to continue the work the board has begun and because she has the time available to help the district.
“I am running because I believe in the education of our kids,” said Schnell. “I hope to continue that.”
Scott said he felt his occupation could help also since he is the spouse of a teacher and has children he has an interest in the district succeeding.
“I felt my financial background would benefit the district as we deal with the financial issues over the next three years,” said Scott.
Thomas said he wants to continue the work the district has started and has a son who is going to graduate from the district.
Bolin also said she thinks her financial background would be beneficial to the board and said she has enjoyed her time on the board.
Another question asked concerned the goals the candidate would like to see achieved in the next three years.
Thomas said he hopes to see the district work on accomplishing the goal of closing the achievement gap.
“I'd like to see us meet and exceed our achievement gap goals,” said Thomas. “But we should not forget the C student who should be a B student, who might get missed. We should focus on each student every day.”
Bolin said she thinks the district is meeting the goals of closing the achievement gap.
“We are being creative and proactive and are concerned with each student every day,” said Bolin.
Schnell said she believes the district should focus on recruiting the best teachers possible.
“My main goal is to maintain and recruit the best teachers we can,” said Schnell. “We need to keep high quality teachers in the schools now.”
Scott said he thinks teachers need to be trained to be ready for more situations.
“Teachers serve as parents in many cases,” said Scott. “It will be important as we move forward to have teachers trained and ready to tackle these issues. We need to ensure we take care of our teachers.”
One of the questions was about the use of testing in the classroom.
Bolin said she has been impressed with the surveys the district does because they go to all people in the district. She also gave a saying from when she grew up, related to over testing children.
“You don't make a hog any fatter by weighing it,” said Bolin. “We can't be testing all the time. There are other ways to make sure we're doing the job well.”
Schnell said that with too many tests it can be very stressful for teachers and students, but that the government puts restrictions on the district requiring tests.
Scott said there is a need for standardized tests, but that it shouldn't limit children.
“I believe there are needs for standardizing testing, but we should ensure they are free and open thinkers,” said Scott. “Achievement does not come from testing.”
Thomas said he thinks the tests serve a purpose in measuring progression. He said people like to be measured to know how they are doing.
Another candidate on the ballot is Dan Coronado, a 53-year-old marketing executive.
Coronado said he wanted to run for election to the school board to be involved in education.
“I wanted to really give back and try to contribute,” said Coronado.
Coronado said his past experience serving on the board of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and his marketing experience will help him as a board member.
Coronado said he thinks he is a good candidate for the board because the school district is about giving back a product to the taxpayers. He said the district should be addressing the increasing dropout rate and reducing the achievement gap.
“It's about giving a good product back to taxpayers,” said Coronado. “I think I can make sound decisions as part of the board.”
The final candidate on the ballot is Mark Roy, a 45-year-old insolvency attorney and partner in a real estate brokerage.
Roy said he chose to run for the board in order to apply his problem- solving skills to the issues affecting the district.
For Roy, there are three areas the district should focus on in the future including teacher pay, testing, and special education. Roy said he has four daughters who are in or will be in school in the district and his wife is a special education teacher.
Roy said his experience in his profession of problem solving to achieve results for clients will help on the board.
“As a problem solver you take complex facts and circumstances and come up with a solution that makes sense,” said Roy.
Roy said he is the best candidate because he is heavily invested in the district by having his business, home, and children in the district and wants the district to succeed.
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