School board to reshuffle

Bush won't run, Schorr will

Posted: Tuesday, July 18, 2000

At least one of the three Juneau School Board members whose term ends in October won't seek another term.

``I have no intention of running this year,'' said Jeff Bush, who has been on the board for six years. Bush, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, said he wants to spend more time with his family.

Book publisher Alan Schorr, a nine-year board member, said he will run again this fall. Chuck Cohen, elected in October 1999 for a year to finish the term of a member who resigned, couldn't be reached for comment on whether he would run again.

Schorr said one reason he wants to stay on the board is the high school graduation exam.

This fall's Juneau-Douglas High School juniors are the first class to have to pass a three-part test to get a high school diploma. In the first exams, taken by sophomores in March, one-quarter to three-quarters of students statewide failed at least one of the sections.

``I want to make sure that we continue to adhere to the concept of standards and demand a lot of our kids and have teaching to the level where kids can pass the exam,'' Schorr said.

Schorr's other main reason for running again is the proposed new high school and remodeling of JDHS. Voters have approved $63 million in bonds for the projects, but construction is contingent on getting some state reimbursement. Schorr said he wants to see the new high school built in his lifetime.

There's no public indication yet of who else might run for the board. No one has filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, which monitors campaign finance law compliance. That letter would allow candidates to accept contributions and spend money before they file nominating petitions with the city clerk. Petitions can be filed from Aug. 14 to Aug. 24 for the Oct. 3 election.

There are seven school board members who serve for three years, plus a high school student who has an advisory vote and is elected by students. Schorr and Bush are the longest-serving members on a fairly new board. Two members have two years' experience, and three have been on the board for one year.

It's a time-consuming job that pays members $300 a month, and the board president $375 a month. Bush said experienced board members spend 10 hours a week at it, including board and committee meetings, doing background reading and fielding phone calls from the public and the media.

Bush said the board's big achievements in his tenure have been getting voter approval for a new high school and reducing class sizes. It's also been a time of transition, with a big turnover in teachers due partly to several early retirement programs. Although the district lost some good teachers, Bush said, he gets fewer complaints about teachers now than when he started on the board.

``But we've done all this in the face of declining budgets and increasing costs,'' Bush said. ``I wouldn't look forward to working there in the next six years because it's becoming an increasingly difficult job.''

One upcoming issue will be whether the board should take back some control over school decisions from site councils, Bush said. Board members have seen that some schools do much better than others on standardized tests, and the board may want to implement a school's successful programs at other schools.

The next board also will see continuing funding problems and public concerns about academic standards and the high school graduation exam, Bush said.



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