Length of residency: In Alaska, 32 Years; in Juneau, 18 Years (born in Anchorage, 1977)
Education: Graduate of Service High School; Spartan School of Aeronautics for Aircraft Maintenance Technician
Occupation(s): Contract Administrator for Hecla Greens Creek Mining Company
Family: Fiancé Tracy Balovich; son Liam Hart
Community service: GCLL Coach for the last five years; coach for the Midnight Suns Baseball Program; Ducks Unlimited Area Co-Chair; and previous Juneau Board of Education candidate.
Other experience: Business professional, teamwork oriented and ready to engage with local community members to positively impact student success in educational learning.
If further cuts are needed in our high school extracurricular activities, where should those cuts be made and what should be done to protect Title IX-mandated equal treatment of girls’ activities?
Funding extracurricular activities is an important aspect of student learning. My thanks to local area businesses, families and parents assisting in all aspects of fundraising to ensure programs continue. If cuts were needed, I would seek feedback from the community and families engaged in the activities to help me understand what cuts we should consider, as well as what programs might be easiest to consolidate as a means to reduce funding. As it relates to Title IX, all public schools receiving federal funds are subject to Title IX, and they must prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in school programs and activities. When discrimination is suspected, it should be investigated and reported as required by state and federal law.
Describe the role of parental involvement in the public schools. What might that involvement look like? How can that involvement be increased?
Parental involvement is critical to student success. For me, engagement with my child’s education is a high priority. Observations of other families demonstrates not all parents are as involved in their child’s education as I’d hope they’d be. Engagement in the school, through PTO, attending student assemblies, watching sports activities and being a resource at home to help with homework are all critical avenues of involvement. School messenger, class newsletters and activity announcements are all productive mechanisms in ensuring parents are aware of what is happening in the classroom and the school.
Would you support a comprehensive statewide sex education curriculum? If so, how would this best be implemented and taught? If you do not support such a curriculum, explain why.
Health education, to include sex education curriculum, is important subject matter to be taught in our schools. We should also honor family decisions and allow parents to opt-out their child from sex education curriculum if they desire. While I’m not certain we need to reform our current curriculum (and implement new), I’d be interested in working with parents, nonprofits and other community groups in evaluating our current offerings to ensure they meet what is needed for our students.
What value do you see in an adequately funded fine arts program in the school curriculum?
Arts funding is a critical need, however, in our current fiscal environment it is sometimes the first to be cut. Research demonstrates the impact fine arts have in other subjects like reading, math and social studies. Arts programs help students develop motor skills, cognitive thinking, leadership, etc. Programs such as J.A.M.M (Juneau Alaska Music Matters) and the Any Given Child program through the JAHC are two programs, which have helped ensure arts programs are a mainstay in our schools.
If you had to rank the educational skills most needed by our students, what would be the #1 and #2 skills on your list? Explain why.
Reading (#1), oral communication (#2) and the ability to use today’s technology (#3). We need to ensure students can read effectively at grade level. The Reading Tutors Program sponsored by United Way is an effective means to help ensure students are successful. Reading promotes improved vocabulary and helps to improve oral communication. I believe it is essential for students to be able to communicate thoughts, ideas and pose questions in order to function in today’s world.
Finally, the ability to utilize today’s technology is vitally important. Our students must be taught how to embrace the use of technology and to use it effectively, as technology is a driving force now and in the future.
What alternate funding resources can you suggest and/or help secure if state education funding continues to decrease?
Currently, the Juneau Assembly is funding to the cap as well as providing additional funding outside of the cap. However, in the current fiscal state of the CBJ we cannot rely on that to happen every year. We will have to seriously consider the possibility of funding through the tax process.
Describe your view of the value of Pre-K public school programs.
Research demonstrates that early education (Pre-K) dramatically improves student success. It is unfortunate we do not put as strong of an emphasis on funding education to include Pre-K learning. I hope to advocate as your representative on the school board at the state level to ensure funding is expanding to affect our ability to provide a solid educational foundation for all Juneau’s youth.