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Empire editorial: Elect Phyllis Carlson, Andi Story, Bill Peters to Juneau School Board

Posted: Sunday, October 04, 2009

ANDI STORY

School Board incumbent Andi Story is a soft-spoken but strong voice for the Juneau community. She first got involved with the school district by serving in parent groups and on site councils, which then led to two terms on the School Board. The School Board will be stronger if she is re-elected for a third term.

A homemaker and mother of three, Story already has sent two children through the Juneau School District and has another in high school. Any policy she helps implement will affect her children as well. Because of this, Story votes foremost as a parent. The School Board needs someone like her who has a personal investment in making sure progress is consistent.

One improvement Story would like to see is better classroom instruction. This is both practical and affordable. She understands that it's ultimately teachers who influence student achievement, not the amount of money in the district's coffers. Her advocacy for smaller learning communities is an example of her drive to improve educator/student relationships. Story also said she will ask that principals spend 40 percent of their time in classrooms to further this cause.

For six years now, Story also has been the School District's voice before the Legislature, testifying twice each year as the board's liaison. The School Board will benefit from continuing to have Story work with lawmakers for the good of Juneau students.

Story is familiar with Juneau's OxyContin epidemic, and said that if re-elected, she will work with the Assembly to increase youth treatment and intervention program options. In-patient youth drug treatment and rehab is a gaping hole in Juneau and needs to be addressed immediately. Story will be proactive in getting students the help they need.

Andi Story has and will continue to be a strong voice for parents if re-elected. She is driven to improve the most important part of schools - education. And Story will not view failure as an option. Like other Juneau residents with children, she has too much at stake.

PHYLLIS CARLSON

Phyllis Carlson's deep community involvement and philanthropic spirit has been a boon to the Juneau School District and will continue to be for three more years if re-elected.

Her volunteer service has included roles with the United Way Board, Juneau Alliance Mental Health, Inc., Kids Vote, Communities in Schools, Juneau Youth Service Board and many others geared toward local youth. Carlson is in tune with the problems facing today's students. She also has the knowledge and vision to find solutions.

As an Alaska Native, Carlson understands the cultural disconnect that can happen when Native students progress through the school system. Carlson said she will continue to push for more culturally-based programs and to help resolve the district's disproportionate dropout rate among Native students.

Carlson, a program administrator for the Central Council of Tlingit and Alaska Vocational Training & Resource Center, is in a position to work with school officials to secure grant money for Native programs. One such program being implemented will have two teachers at each middle school to help eighth-grade Native students transition into high school.

She also was a strong advocate for random student drug testing, acknowledging the long-term risk of sitting idly and doing nothing. "To do nothing wasn't an option," she told the Empire's editorial board.

Many of the problems Juneau's schools face regarding high dropout rates and low reading and math scores won't be solved in just three years, but Phyllis Carlson's continued involvement with the school board will help ensure the School Board stays on the right path. She'll also ensure Native students and their needs aren't overlooked in the process.

BILL PETERS

Rather than run for re-election following his 2004-07 term on the Juneau School Board, Bill Peters chose to use that time to help a family member through an illness. Now he wants to return and put his interest in local education back to work. We think that would be good for Juneau schools.

Active in community organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Juneau Chamber of Commerce and Glacier Valley Rotary, Peters brings a wide network of local experience to his goal of improving connections between parents and the school board. While he sees the need to improve Adequate Yearly Progress scores, he also recognizes the importance of fostering partnerships between educators, students and family to achieve student success.

Peters has been described as a good thinker who does his homework. As a past School Board president, he took in all points of view and showed an ability to bring people together on an issue. He also honed those skills as president of Big Brothers, Big Sisters and the Chamber of Commerce. During this critical time, as drug policies are formulated, this approach will assist the school board in finding ways to support student athletes who test positive for drugs. Correspondingly, Peters has been a staunch advocate of zero tolerance for drug abuse in our schools.

As vice president of corporate development for a local credit union, Peters will bring financial expertise to the board as well. He sees the necessity for the school board to partner with the Juneau Assembly, the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations to seek ways to positively effect Juneau's economic future to increase population and student enrollment. He looks forward to working with Juneau's legislative delegation and to ensure that the Legislature continues to increase the District Cost Factor as revised in 2008.



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