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In an effort to learn more about the 2021 Salida School Board candidates, Ark Valley Voice (AVV) compiled a fourth set of questions that were distributed to each candidate. The answers to the first candidate question ran on Wednesday, Thursday AVV ran the second question on financial acumen. and also that day we ran the answers to the questions regarding student and staff mental health support. This is the fourth in the series of questions to reveal candidate positions on issues important to student success.

All candidates were given the same amount of time to complete the questions, as well as the same word count for their responses. Six of the eight candidates responded.

The fourth question asked by AVV ; “How much influence should parents and taxpayers have over the curriculum?”

Jeannie Peters’ Answer:

Image courtesy of Resilient Educators

“I believe parents and our larger community should have input into their school district and its programs. Each campus has a School Accountability Committee (SAC) which includes the principal, staff, board members, parents and representatives from the community. The District Accountability Committee (DAC) has a similar membership.  These committees provide ongoing communication between the board and the community and can be tasked with specific tasks when needed.

For example, in 2018, the DAC, at the request of the board, conducted a community survey of educational values to guide us as the district developed a master facility plan. Currently, the board has hired Onward Education Consulting to conduct a strategic planning process with our community, parents, staff and students to guide us in assessing if we need new graduation requirements and if so, what they should be.

Our educational programs should reflect the values of our community. However, I also believe that developing the specifics of a new direction in curriculum (for example, the possibility of new graduation guidelines) lies within the province of our educators, the people who will actually teach, support, and guide our students. They are the experts in this, they are the people educated and trained in accomplishing the goals our community values.”

Jennifer Adamson’s Answer:

“All the influence in schools parents and taxpayers should have. We, the School Board and District work for the parents and students and taxpayers always.”

Jodi Breckenridge Petit’s Answer:

“To be sure, public education exists because of taxpayers. And our students are parents’ universes. However, I place trust in our professionals. Department and grade curriculum teams best identify content and pedagogy.”

Mandy Paschall’s Answer:

“Ultimately curriculum decisions should be made at the school level based on teacher and principal input. Our teachers and school-level administration are in the classrooms daily tracking our student’s data, noting how they best learn, and assessing the effectiveness of teaching strategies, tools, and curriculums. I trust our teachers and administration teams to choose a curriculum that best meets our student’s needs and fills in the learning gaps they are noticing. We should let the education experts within our community research and evaluate curriculum options and choose curriculum that is highly regarded with proven success rates for students.”

“Parents should always have the right to see what their children are learning, and which curriculum is being used. As parents and interested taxpayers, we should talk to our teachers, meet with our principals, and consider joining an accountability committee if we are interested in having more input and being more informed. Accountability committees provide a great connection to current school issues and an opportunity to talk to administration and teachers. Often, simply having a conversation, sharing different perspectives, and listening to reasons behind decision making helps to alleviate concerns.”

Carrie Coscarella-Mattix’s Answer:

“Public and community taxpayer input are valuable.  Onward Consulting group is currently working on the curriculum, planning, and needs of the students for the District with community input. Graduation requirements and concurrent enrollment among other topics are being looked at. What we can do for the students to become their own kind of successful individual while maintaining high education standards is important to me.”

Joe Smith’s Answer:

“As I said earlier, parents and businesses throughout the community should help the Board in providing a vision, priorities, and values that should be instituted throughout the district. The community should then hold us accountable for meeting the expectations of those priorities and values.

We are currently going through a process using Onward Consulting to help us gather information from the community to update our values and priorities to then be able to direct Administration in updating graduation guidelines and requirements, integration with CMC for concurrent enrollment, dual enrollment, and expansion of trades programming, and overall objectives of the District. We live in an ever-changing society, and we have to do the best we can to continually evolve in order to meet the needs of our students.

Lastly, and I say this often, but we as a community voted to annex CMC and levy a tax to be part of the CMC community, and therefore, we need to leverage those tax dollars to get the most return on investment. This is not just as a school board member, but also a taxpaying citizen of the community wanting the best we can get from our higher education partner in Salida.”