School Board Election: Waring credits grasp of issues to volunteer work

Posted: Thursday, September 29, 2005

Juneau School Board candidate Margo Waring says she has a good grasp of local educational issues from her years of experience as a volunteer parent in the Juneau School District.

"Over time I have developed a familiarity with a lot of the issues in the different building levels," she said. "I was lucky enough to have time from work to give to that kind of volunteer effort and it's been very important and meaningful to me."

A Juneau resident since 1972, Waring received a bachelor's degree from New York University and a master's from the University of Illinois. She most recently worked for the Department of Health and Social Services as a health services planner working on issues related to services for adults and children with behavioral disabilities. She is semi-retired and does consulting work on a part-time basis.

Waring refused repeated requests to disclose her age. The Juneau city clerk's office and Alaska Public Offices Commission said they do not require candidates to file a date of birth.

Waring said her experience at different grade levels in the district mainly comes from being a parent. She said she had a number of volunteer jobs while her son went through the school district, including being a hall monitor, classroom volunteer, reading buddy, substitute teacher and various districtwide tasks. Her son graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 2004.

"I think it's important to have had experience through the different grade levels," she said.

Waring said her main focus of this campaign is to bring attention to the dropout rate and to implement recommendations made by the task force that addressed the issue last year, which she was a member of.

"The dropout problem is not one confined to a single group of students. It's quite broad and the profiles are very different in different groups," she said. "They include kids who are not able to work at grade level and they include kids who far exceed grade level expectations. So the strategies really have to be targeted to different groups of kids."

Waring said the dropout rate has been an issue in Juneau for many years and she would like to give back time to the community to help make solutions.

She said the greatest short-term problem facing the school district is inadequate funding.

"I would certainly lend my voice as an experienced lobbyist to the effort to try and convince the Legislature that more funding is key to educational success," she said.

She said her work experience has given her skills that would be useful to the board.

"They are experiences in policy development, program planning and program evaluation and assessment. I think those are some skills that could be very useful to the board," she said.

If elected to the School Board, Waring said she would work on fostering relationships with organizations and businesses throughout the community.

"I would be an enthusiastic supporter of moving the school district more in the direction of finding community partnerships to accomplish some of our goals," she said. "I think there are resources out there that can be leveraged for the community."

Waring said this is a particularly important school election because the school board will be faced with some difficult issues regarding the new high school in the next several years.

"I'm interested in the need for us to start a broad-based community planning process to develop educational programs at both of the high schools," she said. "That's something that I think needs to begin now if we're going to do a thorough job of it - and use it as an opportunity to engage the whole community in how to have better secondary education."

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