The number of certified candidates for the Juneau School District’s Board of Education grew to two Thursday after clinical psychologist Destiny Sargeant filed for one of three school board seats up for election this year, and a third person declared her intent to get in the race.
Barbara Michelle Johnston, a mother of five who works for the State of Alaska, has filed her letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. She said Thursday evening that she wants to run for school board to get involved with local education.
“I’m very passionate about education,” Johnston said. “I feel like we have a very vested interest in our children’s education.”
Johnston said she was previously active on schools in Ketchikan, where she lived before moving to Juneau in December 2010.
In 2011, two school board seats were up for election, but only incumbent Sally Saddler filed and was certified for the ballot. The remaining seat was filled by Sean O’Brien after he filed as an official write-in candidate and garnered enough write-in votes to win.
The deficit of candidates last year inspired Johnston to run for school board herself, she said.
“I really thought that was a shame that people didn’t care enough,” said Johnston.
While Johnston has not yet turned in her signatures and been certified as a candidate, Sargeant did attain that status Thursday. She turned in her signatures shortly before noon and was certified by 12:45 p.m., according to the online list of certified municipal candidates maintained by City Clerk Laurie Sica’s office.
“I already got the official call back that our paperwork is in order,” said Sargeant.
Sargeant first announced Wednesday that she would run for school board after a two-year absence, having sat on the board from 2007 to 2010. She said Thursday that she is “very thankful and very happy to possibly be serving Juneau’s families and children again.”
“There’s no reason that a town the size of Juneau, being the capital city, can’t have world-class education here,” Sargeant said. “I think that we could easily be one of the top 100 school districts in the country, and I don’t see any reason why we can’t keep that as a goal.”
Sargeant said the “one-size-fits-all” approach she characterized federal No Child Left Behind requirements as pushing is not necessarily appropriate for Alaskan schools.
“I think that most people are aware that all of that doesn’t always work in Alaska,” Sargeant said. She asserted, “We are nothing like the other states.”
Sargeant added, “I think that we want high standards for achievement and world-class schools. That I believe we can head toward.”
While Sargeant said she is concerned about the sluggish economy and strapped finances, she singled out school district employees as deserving of support, saying, “I know we have dedicated teachers and they work very hard even if there are budget cuts, so I think it’s important to support what they need.”
Sargeant is the second certified candidate for school board this year. Andrea Story, the school board’s vice president, was certified as a candidate last Friday.
Johnston said she hopes to turn in her signatures for certification Friday or early Monday, before the 4:30 p.m. deadline for candidate filing.
Voters will be able to vote for a maximum of three school board candidates on the ballot in October, according to Sica, the city clerk. The top three vote-getters will be elected.
• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.