Mayron says problem solving is one of her strengths

Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2003

Megan Mayron says she fixes problems for a living and would like to apply that expertise to the Juneau schools.

Mayron is one of 12 candidates competing for five open seats on the Juneau School Board.

"I offer strategy, planning, implementation and collaboration skills," she said.

Mayron, who has lived in Juneau for two years and has no children, said that means she is invested in the future and would bring an unbiased perspective to the School Board.

"It's the School Board's job to be concerned about the big picture and the long run," she said.

Mayron garnered some of her impressions of Juneau schools by working as a substitute teacher for two months.

"It was an eye-opening experience," she said. "Education is a very closed system. From a substitute's perspective, there appeared to be no systematic approach to dealing with subs. ... You're thrown in with seventh-graders, you're thrown in with sharks. They're going to push that sub."

Mayron's impression is that there's a "very serious" management-labor issue in the school district.

"The staff feel good about being in the classroom with the students, but they don't seem to feel good about management," she said. "That affects wanting to get up and go to work in the morning. That affects your performance on the job to some degree. Teachers are motivated by the meaningfulness of their job, not by money or glory or power."

The school district has five formal strategies for 2003. The Empire asked candidates to discuss some or all of them. The goals are to increase student achievement, increase Native and minority student success, increase healthy behaviors and attitudes, ensure the best staff and communicate with families better.

Regarding student achievement, Mayron said it is important to match how a teacher teaches to how a student learns. "The kids who are kinesthetic - they may slip through the cracks," she said, referring to children who learn by doing.

Most teachers recognize that, Mayron said, but she'd like to see a formal initiative to support it.

Mayron said she wasn't sure how to increase healthy behavior in schools, but a solution would start by recognizing that some children don't have a happy home life and don't come to school ready to learn.

"Kids are bringing in baggage from home and it comes through in how they interact with other students and staff," she said.

School district officials anticipate they will face a $3 million deficit in next school year's budget, barring changes in state funding. The teachers don't have a contract yet for this school year. The next school board is likely going to have to make some hard choices.

"I wouldn't sit down and start slashing," Mayron said. "We know that we're going to have a couple of tough budget years. We know it now.

"I would start a prioritization project with the School Board, the staff, the parents, local businesses and Native leadership, and the general community," she said. "This group would need to sit down, figure out how things are connected, figure out what the real priorities are, and then that would be my guidelines for the slashing."

Mayron said she wants to learn more about the planned high school at Dimond Park in the Mendenhall Valley because it confuses her.

The projected census says there isn't going to be a surge in the under-18 population in Juneau, Mayron said.

"We're pouring a lot of money into the current high school to renovate it. And I'm confused as to why we're splitting up a small population, going out into the Valley."

Mayron said she's also concerned about the cost of running the new high school.

Mayron called the federal No Child Left Behind Act "the worst kind of unfunded mandate, because those who created it didn't really understand the issues facing the educational system."

"You can't change your system for free. It doesn't work that way," she said.

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