Ogden and Weber School Board hopefuls address safety, success and fairness | News, Sports, Jobs

1 / 3

Several hopefuls for the Ogden and Weber school boards in this cycle’s election took part in a debate on Tuesday, October 4, 2022 at the Pleasant Valley Branch Library in Washington Terrace. They are, from left, Weber School District hopefuls Heidi Gross in District 6 and Kelly Larson in District 1 and Ogden School District hopefuls Jeremy Shinoda and Amber Allred in District 4 and Douglas Barker and Stacy Bernal in district 2.

Tim Vandenack, Standard Examiner

2 / 3

Several hopefuls for the Ogden and Weber school boards in this cycle’s election took part in a debate on Tuesday, October 4, 2022 at the Pleasant Valley Branch Library in Washington Terrace. They are, from left, Weber School District hopefuls Heidi Gross in District 6 and Kelly Larson in District 1 and Ogden School District hopefuls Jeremy Shinoda and Amber Allred in District 4 and Douglas Barker and Stacy Bernal in district 2.

Tim Vandenack, Standard Examiner

3 / 3

Several hopefuls for the Ogden and Weber school boards in this cycle’s election took part in a debate on Tuesday, October 4, 2022 at the Pleasant Valley Branch Library in Washington Terrace. They are, from left, Weber School District hopefuls Heidi Gross in District 6 and Kelly Larson in District 1 and Ogden School District hopefuls Jeremy Shinoda and Amber Allred in District 4 and Douglas Barker and Stacy Bernal in district 2.

Tim Vandenack, Standard Examiner

❮ ❯

WASHINGTON TERRACE — Six hopefuls vying for school board positions in the Ogden and Weber school districts addressed critical race theory, student achievement levels, school safety and more during a debate on Tuesday as Election Day approaches.

This was a civil matter – no flare-ups or confrontations – and many of the candidates’ views overlapped. And despite being asked about Critical Race Theory, a hot topic that causes concern and concern among some, none seemed to think it was being taught in Weber County schools, with several saying it was a theoretical subject more suited to academia.

In attendance were Ogden School Board District 2 prospects, incumbent Douglas Barker and challenger Stacy Bernal, and Ogden District 4 prospects, incumbents Amber Allred and Jeremy Shinoda.

Kelly Larson, the only hope for the District 1 seat on the Weber School Board, was on hand, as was Heidi Gross, vying for the District 6 seat on the Weber School Board. Outgoing District 6 board member Janis Christensen, though seeking re-election, did not attend due to a family emergency.

The Weber County League of Women Voters and the Ogden Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People organized the event, which was attended by about 30 people. It was held at the Pleasant Valley Branch Library in Washington Terrace.

Ogden School District, District 2: Barker, a teacher at South Ogden Junior High School, said his recent focus as a school board member was to replace older schools in the district and increase children’s career paths outside of college. in the professional professions, for example.

Bernal, a mother of two at Ogden Schools and a substitute teacher in the system, highlighted her ‘passion for education’ and her involvement in local civic affairs, including her role on the Diversity Commission of Ogden. One of her sons has autism and she runs Awesome Autistic Ogden, an advocacy group.

District 2 covers part of North Ogden.

Ogden School District, District 4: Allred highlighted his focus on educators — “I really support our teachers” — and his passion for volunteering in the community in a wide range of areas.

She has children who attend school outside the Ogden system, brought on by her divorce from the children’s father. But having them in other districts helps him keep abreast of events in other systems, which can serve him well as a member of the Ogden School Board. “I think it helps me have an open mind,” she said, and opens it up to a wider range of ideas.

Shinoda noted his involvement in various Ogden School District bodies, including parent-teacher organizations, and his civic involvement, including his role as a member of the Ogden Planning Commission. He pointed to what he said were lower average achievement scores for Ogden students in areas like math and science compared to state averages.

“I’m not happy with where we are. We can do better,” he said.

Shinoda was appointed in late 2019 to fill the post of District 4 after former incumbent Sunni Wilkinson resigned. Then Allred defeated Shinoda in the 2020 election to fill the final two years of Wilkinson’s term.

District 4 covers parts of central Ogden and the East Bench area of ​​the city.

Weber School District: Gross, the District 6 prospect for Weber Schools, recently retired as a teacher in the district and now serves as a backup. She had harsh words for the current board members, calling them out of touch with the public, which boosted her candidacy.

“They have been in closed meetings. They don’t listen to the public,” Gross said.

Terri McCulloch, president of the Weber County League of Women Voters, read a letter Christensen provided given her absence. In it, Christensen calls herself a “strong conservative” and notes that her children went through Weber schools and some of her grandchildren are now in the system.

She noted that the district’s high school graduation rate had increased during her tenure and praised teachers in the system. She voted against a district tax hike last August, intended to help raise teachers’ salaries, but not because teachers don’t deserve a raise — they do, she believes — but rather because economic uncertainty and worry that now is not the time. raise the taxes.

Larson noted that she is the mother of a Weber Schools student, unlike the other board members. She has also held various positions in parent-teacher organizations.

SAFETY, EQUITY, BOOKS

Asked about school security, Barker and Allred noted security systems recently installed at several Ogden schools that restrict visitor access, causing them to be buzzed by school office staff at a main entry point. Securing high schools, however, is more complicated, Barker said.

“They have so many entry points. How do you really maintain security? ” he said.

Shinoda said making schools more welcoming to children and parents can help keep schools safe, a sentiment shared by Gross. Additionally, Gross said, children should be encouraged to tell an adult when they hear something concerning to avoid potential trouble.

Bernal welcomed the increase in security systems implemented in some schools in Ogden, but expressed concern about the notion of teachers carrying concealed weapons in the classroom as a means of security. “I don’t think that’s the answer,” she said.

In terms of strengthening equity in education, ensuring that all students have equal access to educational opportunities, some of the hopefuls noted the importance of having resources in schools, such as showers for homeless children and laundry facilities, to help improve their classroom experience.

Shinoda emphasized the relatively poor academic performance of Ogden students compared to statewide students. “What we can do is increase the number of full-day kindergartens and help fill the vacancies for assistants in our classrooms,” thereby strengthening education, he said.

Bernal noted the importance of reducing language barriers in the Ogden school system, which is home to a large number of Latinos, some from Spanish-speaking households. Barker stressed the importance of ensuring children have access to breakfast at school, if not at home.

“I want all of our students to feel they have an equal opportunity for an education, regardless of background,” Allred said.

Candidates were also asked about the notion of banning books from school libraries, what kind of guidelines should be applied to remove books that might be offensive to some.

Allred and Gross emphasize the importance of families passing on values ​​to their children that children can then use to filter what they choose to read. If access to books is to be restricted, the restrictions should only apply to children of concerned families, not all students, Gross added, a sentiment shared by Bernal.

Likewise, if a book is restricted at one school because of a parent’s concerns, that restriction should not apply to another school where no concerns have been raised, Larson said.

None expressed support for teaching critical race theory in Ogden or Weber schools, but some stressed the importance of teaching history accurately, at an age-appropriate level.

Newsletter

Join thousands of people who already receive our daily newsletter.

Leave a Reply