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Phoenix-Talent school board races

Position 1, Zone 2

Sara Crawford

Occupation: Accounting Assistant, Micro-Trains Line Co.

Age: 49

How long have you lived in the Phoenix-Talent School District? 27 years.

Do you have any children currently attending Phoenix-Talent schools, or children who have graduated from the district? My three children went through the Phoenix-Talent School District and graduated in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

Why do you want to be on the school board? I’ve served as a board member for 5 years, being appointed in 2016, and would like to continue to serve the district in this role. I learn something and gain new perspective each time I am around our students and staff. I strive to listen and understand the challenges and celebrate the successes and use this information to guide my decisions as a school board member.

Which current Phoenix-Talent School Board goal do you see yourself bringing the most strengths or dedication to, and why?

In 2017, my dedication was to our board guiding principle of “continuing to affirm our commitment to the community using bond resources to build a premium education environment in our region.” In addition to safe, secure and accessible campuses, we now have a state-of-the-art educational experience for our students, including career pathway programs in culinary arts and carpentry, plus updated arts, health science, auto tech and welding facilities to prepare our students for the future in those fields. Now, my focus and commitment turn to our board principle of “making decisions based on factors that ensure the best possible learning environment for all students with emphasis on minimum class sizes, varied curriculum and student achievement for all.” How we welcome, communicate with, support and encourage our students, families and staff will help us reach our district goal of “Excellence for Everyone.”

What, in your opinion, is the most important deficiency on the Phoenix-Talent School Board and how would you work to remedy it?

We have a newer board member who was appointed only five days prior to the devastating fire in our region, new board leadership, and the May election will fill two vacant seats. This situation gives the board a great opportunity to train new members and utilize the experience and experiences of the current members to better understand the board role and processes of how to best serve the district.

What, in your opinion, are two or three primary responsibilities a school board member has to the public?

First, hire an excellent superintendent — this trained professional will see after the day-to-day operations of the district. School board members set policy, which is the framework superintendent and staff use to manage the daily tasks and responsibilities of running the school district. Be accessible, be teachable, listen, ask questions, do your research, understand that there are multiple viewpoints to any one issue or situation, then make decisions that will provide the best educational experience for our students, families and staff.

Lisa Jennings

Occupation: Self Employed

Age: 42

How long have you lived in the Phoenix-Talent School District? I am a lifelong resident and attendee of the Phoenix-Talent School District. I attended K-12 schools in this district, along with all five of my siblings. My dad is a former student and graduate of Talent High in 1956.

Do you have any children currently attending Phoenix-Talent schools? I have two children in the Phoenix/Talent School district.

Why do you want to be on the school board?

I want to try and keep school about education. It seems schools are wandering away from what school was originally intended for. Keeping all the unnecessary distractions out of their learning environment at school. Seeing that our schools stay focused on teaching the basics: reading, writing, math, computers, history, budgeting, economics, etc., and leaving the political and moral issues to the parents and/or guardians. My hope is to see all of our children have the will and dedication to work hard and be responsible for their future success.

Which current Phoenix-Talent School Board goal do you see yourself bringing the most strengths or dedication to, and why?

Not caving to all the outside influences that have nothing to do with education. We need to make sure our district stays focused on our children and that it provides them with a strong, well-rounded scholastically based education. I believe in teaching our children that they are responsible for the choices they make and that those choices play a huge role in their success or failure.

What, in your opinion, is the most important deficiency on the Phoenix-Talent School Board and how would you work to remedy it? Did not answer

What, in your opinion, are two or three primary responsibilities a school board member has to the public?

1. Getting our kids back to school safely five days a week. This is so important to our children's mental and physical well-being. Interaction and socializing with their peers, teachers, coaches, playing team sports, and just being kids is a vital part of our children's growth.

2. I want to not only be an advocate for our children, but for the parents and/or guardians in our district. I believe keeping open community interactions with parents and/or guardians of our district is very important so that they can be aware of what is coming down the pipeline at a state and local level regarding their child's education. This way parents and/or guardians can be more engaged and involved, come to school board meetings, ask questions and voice their opinions before something is implemented in our schools.

Position 3, Zone 1

Nancy McKinnis (running unopposed): Did not respond

Position 5, Zone 1

Ben Garcia

Occupation: Education Coordinator at Southern Oregon PBS.

Age: 41

How long have you lived in the Phoenix-Talent School District? I grew up in the district and completed my entire K-12 education there (Elementary: TES, Middle: TMS, High School: PHS). I have lived here almost my entire life with a few exceptions (went to college in Portland and lived in my dad’s hometown in Mexico for a few years).

Do you have any children currently attending Phoenix-Talent schools? Unfortunately my wife and I cannot have children, but I have plenty of family members who have children in the district (I have four brothers and four sisters who all have kids).

Why do you want to be on the school board?

I want to be the first school board member of color who actually went through the Phoenix-Talent School District as a student. I very intimately know the Latinx community in Talent and want to represent their needs.

Which current Phoenix-Talent School Board goal do you see yourself bringing the most strengths or dedication to, and why?

As an employee of local industry, I feel like my experience relating to CTE partnerships (I have helped my station partner with Medford Schools and Eagle Point schools) would be invaluable as the district continues to evaluate its CTE programs and industry partnerships.

What, in your opinion, is the most important deficiency on the Phoenix-Talent School Board and how would you work to remedy it?

I know there is a Latinx member already on the board, but I feel that the more members of color on the board the better since there is growing student diversity in the district.

What, in your opinion, are two or three primary responsibilities a school board member has to the public?

1. Representing the needs of the community (for example: being a champion for families who lost homes due to the Almeda fire).

2. Making sure low-income citizens and citizens of color have a voice on the board (I not only come from both of these communities, I’m still there as a renter and a citizen with massive school debt).

Rebecca Weathers

Did not answer

Position 6, Zone 2

Garry Gatti

Occupation: I am a retired educator of 27 years. I served 23 years as an elementary and middle school classroom teacher and four years as a K-8 school principal.

Age: 63

How long have you lived in the Phoenix-Talent School District? I have lived in the district since May of 2017.

Do you have any children currently attending Phoenix-Talent schools? Two of my grandchildren attend Orchard Hill, a fourth-grader and a fifth-grader.

Why do you want to be on the school board?

I am concerned about the progressive agenda infecting the K-12 education system of Oregon. On the agenda to indoctrinate our children are: racist mathematics, gender fluidity, 1619 Project, which teaches that America is a racist nation founded by racists, and Critical Race Theory — a Trojan horse ideology that postulates that only white people can be racist and requires that children be educated in the progressive form of diversity and inclusion, which is not diverse in thought and excludes anyone who thinks differently. The school board is the only barrier between that curricula and your children.

I have 27 years of perspective of K-12 education and a firm understanding of curriculum, policy and the power of socializing children. I believe we need our children to be critical thinkers and kind, thoughtful citizens. Many times people who ascend onto a school board are rubber stamps who go along with the prevailing tide. I have a spine and will stand strong for an education that teaches critical thinking and that America is a country in search of becoming “a more perfect union.”

Which Current Phoenix-Talent board goal do you see yourself bringing the most strength or dedication to and why?

Strengthening teachers’ skill sets and improving student performance are both areas of expertise I possess. As a teacher, I served my prior district as a "master teacher,” teaching the majority of my district’s 350 teachers classroom management in both positive classroom discipline and positive classroom instruction. As an administrator, my school received scores of a perfect "10" in school rankings for two consecutive years. Our students ranked in the top 10 percentile of similar schools throughout California.

What, in your opinion, is the most important deficiency on the Phoenix -Talent School Board and how would you remedy it? As a lay person, I am not personally familiar with any deficiencies that exist within the district. I do know the superintendent, Brent Barry, has a great reputation, and I look forward to working with him if I am elected, but beyond that it seems I would have to imbibe in gossip to look for negatives.

What, in your opinion, are two or three primary responsibilities a school board member has to the public?

A school board exists to oversee the activities of a school system, so that students can have the best possible experience and educational outcome. Due to the scope and importance of what a school board does, I will list what I believe to be the top five in descending order of importance.

Manage the superintendent: the school board is responsible for giving the superintendent his power and ensuring that he upholds the responsibilities that come with that power.

Evaluate, instruction and education: School boards evaluate and select curriculum, i.e. what your children are taught ... VERY IMPORTANT! Choose the wrong curriculum and your children could be taught to hate their country. “Give us a child until she is seven and we have her for life” — St. Ignatius Loyola

Policy: the board reviews and sets district policies and policy implementation.

Review budget and finance: The board helps guide the district's budget and establishes spending priorities. It holds the business manager accountable.

Ongoing education: A wise board invests in both certificated teachers and classified staff with ongoing training. Well-trained people with sharp skill sets equals better student outcomes.

Michael Campbell

Occupation: CEO/Co-Owner, Sis-Q Cellular

Age: 34

How long have you lived in the Phoenix-Talent School District? Three years in Phoenix-Talent, and 18 years in the Rogue Valley.

Do you have any children currently attending Phoenix-Talent schools? Our eldest daughter, Nora, starts kindergarten at Orchard Hill next year.

Why do you want to be on the school board?

When I joined the board last year, I thought I'd make a meaningful contribution to an already thriving district thanks to my years of experience on the Medford School Board, connections to the community, and business background. Within one week of my appointment, COVID-19 turned education as we know it upside down. Within six months, the Almeda fire decimated our community and left so many families displaced and homeless. Since September, I have dedicated every spare moment I have to help with housing relief efforts. Our core mission as a school board is to ensure every child gets the very best education, but we also know that no child can entirely focus on learning without their basic needs met. I want to stay on the board because our work rebuilding this district is not done. I will not rest until every family is home and our kids can be kids again.

Which current Phoenix-Talent School Board goal do you see yourself bringing the most strengths or dedication to, and why?

One of our board's top guiding principles is "fostering a diverse and inclusive school environment in which all of our students, families and staff members feel valued, respected and welcomed." I feel my previous board experience helps me continue to champion this mission. Specifically, I'm proud to have been part of two different school boards to pass equity policies. Equitable practices are one thing; codifying those practices in policy, supporting them with resources, and continuously monitoring and holding ourselves accountable for student achievement is how we show our work.

What, in your opinion, is the most important deficiency on the Phoenix-Talent School Board and how would you work to remedy it?

I am incredibly proud of this board and the way we've navigated unthinkable challenges this past year. We have remained steadfast in our commitment to putting students first while supporting staff and the community. If we had one deficiency, it's board retention and training. When our then board chair, Craig Prewitt, resigned from the board last year, I was elected vice chair. Since that time, I've been working with our current chair, Dawn Watson, on board development and training opportunities for the current board. I believe that we should never stop learning, no matter how much experience we have or how exceptional we think we are. We ask our teachers to take professional development each year. Why shouldn't we require the same from ourselves? I believe continuous growth for our board will also help with board retention.

What, in your opinion, are two or three primary responsibilities a school board member has to the public?

School boards exist to represent the public interest in ensuring ALL children receive a quality education, that resources are allocated and managed responsibly, and that a highly effective and competent superintendent is in place to manage the district's day-to-day operations. The board sets a vision for the school district to reflect the community's core values, passes policies and allocates resources in support of those values, and holds itself and the superintendent accountable for achieving positive results.

It's important to understand that individual board members hold little power on their own. Only the collective board can take action and make official decisions. Individual board members must be open-minded, big-picture thinkers who put kids first without any hidden agendas. Board members may not always agree, but they must work well with their peers, voice disagreements respectfully, and honor the board's will once decisions are final.

Position 7, Zone 2

Zac Moody

Occupation: Public/Private Planning Consultant.

Age: 44

How long have you lived in the Phoenix-Talent School District? With the exception of going to college, I have lived in the district since 1980.

Do you have any children currently attending Phoenix-Talent schools? I have four children; my twin boys currently attend Phoenix High School and are freshman.

Why do you want to be on the school board?

An effective school board plays a vital role in keeping schools on track with their adopted goals and policies and have a responsibility to establish policies that preserve and improve the district. I want to ensure that the goals of the district are met, but met in a way that provides a quality education, free of bias and politics for current and future students. I believe that the public education system and the school board must have a vision, create structures that support that vision, be accountable to the public and advocate for our students with every opportunity. I believe that the pandemic and the Almeda fire have created many barriers that threaten districts around the state from meeting their stated goals and visions and that the district needs leaders that are willing to stand up to outside influences that do not have our students’ best interest in mind.

Which current Phoenix-Talent School Board goal do you see yourself bringing the most strengths or dedication to, and why?

While each of the goals must be met to ensure the success of our students, I believe that parent involvement in the district (Goal 12) and my fiscal experience are my greatest strengths. As a former government employee, I understand what it takes to maintain a healthy budget while still meeting the needs of the organization and have exceptional grant writing skills to assist the district in acquiring and managing grant funds. Communication is key. Each of my past employment experiences have helped me refine my social cueing skills and to learn how to handle confrontational or intimidating situations comfortably and confidently, trusting my judgment while still offering recommendations and opinions in an appropriate and respectful manner. Through these experiences, I have developed excellent written and verbal communication skills as well as a broad knowledge of the best practices concerning the operations of local governments and public offices.

What, in your opinion, is the most important deficiency on the Phoenix-Talent School Board and how would you work to remedy it?

I believe that the school district has a responsibility to parents and students to stand up to our state legislators’ unnecessary mandates and to find solutions (at the state and local level) to bring our students back to school full-time without restrictions so that our students get the education and social experiences they deserve.

What, in your opinion, are two or three primary responsibilities a school board member has to the public?

Students (education and extracurricular activities); listening to parents’ concerns with an open mind while not being defensive; fiscal health and proper control of how funds are spent to best meet the needs of the students.

Polly Fowler-Farrimond

Occupation: Workforce Analyst/Economist, Oregon Employment Department, Research Division

Age: 56

How long have you lived in the Phoenix-Talent School District? I was born in the district and attended Talent Elementary and Junior High before graduating from Phoenix High School in 1982. I graduated from SOU with a degree in teaching and business. In my life I have been fortunate to teach, work in business, and now work for the state of Oregon. During that time, I also raised children in this district and have always prioritized being an active community member.

Do you have any children currently attending Phoenix-Talent schools, or children who have graduated from the district? My two daughters were raised in the district and are graduates of Phoenix High School in 2014 and 2020.

Why do you want to be on the school board?

Throughout my life and especially after the fires, I felt a strong desire to support the students in our area. I feel that the school board is the best way for me to do so. I want to give back to the school that helped me learn how to be a productive member of our community. Over the past 24 years I have been involved with the schools while my daughters went through their education. I have been able to develop wonderful relationships and see firsthand the work that the schools put into our students. I see the grit and compassion that the schools demonstrated throughout the district during COVID and the Almeda fire. This community spirit has always been present in our district. During this healing process, I want to contribute to the rebuilding of our community as a board member.

Which current Phoenix-Talent School Board goal do you see yourself bringing the most strengths or dedication to, and why?

In the next couple of years, I will prioritize keeping students and families in our district to maintain the funding of our schools, including working on housing for those displaced in the fires. We need to ensure the long-term stability of our schools. I am a dedicated, hard-working member of the community who will not back down when met with challenges. I am committed to doing my best for the students in our district, which means being present to understand the community’s needs. Living in the valley my entire life and going through the tragedies our community has been faced with in the past year has strengthened my resolve to give back in this way.

What, in your opinion, is the most important deficiency on the Phoenix-Talent School Board and how would you work to remedy it?

I am lucky to know the existing board and have attended many board meetings recently and in the past years. Recently, the board has focused more on diversity, equity and inclusion. This is a process, and we have a long way to go. Making sure that all stakeholders feel welcome and served by our outstanding educators in the district is vital. Making our board meetings and general activities throughout the district accessible to all families through translation methods and streaming options is something I will work with the sitting board members on improving.

What, in your opinion, are two or three primary responsibilities a school board member has to the public?

I feel that these responsibilities include supporting students, parents/guardians, teachers, staff, and administration. Seeking public input and activation from groups and individuals are important considerations I want to prioritize as well. The board’s stewardship over school funding is key because of its wide-reaching impacts. I look forward to serving with our diligent board members who hold these values and our community close to their hearts.

Bridget O’Connor: Did not answer

Craig Prewitt: Did not answer