Crawford: Borough sales tax should be kept at 2 percent

Seat 1 Kalifornsky

Posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Name: Lorraine "Sammy" Crawford

Age: 64

Occupation: Retired teacher

Family: Husband, Warren "Bud"; son, Michael

Education: Bachelor of Science, University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Master of Arts, University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Organizations and special interests: League of Women Voters; Women's Investment; Delta Kappa Gamma

Previously held elected office: Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board; Alaska Association of School Boards Board; Alaska School Activities Association Board

1. Are more schools going to be consolidated in the future or are there other solutions to the issue of declining enrollment?

I hope more schools will not have to be consolidated. Consolidation is a difficult political, economic, and emotional decision. Children and their families are forced to adjust to changes they have no control over.

However, with the population of school age children declining and the population of residents over 50 increasing (who generally don't have children in school) the school district has a financial obligation to taxpayers to make the most efficient and academically sound use of buildings.

Consolidated and larger schools also have the advantage of offering more specialties (art, music, physical and vocational education) and save the taxpayers money.

What we must do is make sure all of our schools are safe, excellent and high achieving and our students are receiving the best education possible. We need to make sure our high school graduates are prepared for a world of work and/or college and a lifetime of learning.

2. One of the board's goals for the coming year is to evaluate board policies, bylaws and protocol. Is there something in particular that needs to be addressed?

The board needs to clarify how decisions are made. It also needs to make clear how the public can be effectively involved and make sure all decisions are communicated clearly to the public.

The public trust in schools must not be broken. The evaluation of board policies will hopefully help the public be involved in effective ways with the board.

One of the plans we have discussed as a board is to have a monthly informal discussion with the public so that the board can learn from the public which issues are of concern so that we can address those before they become a problem. I want to call this BBB (brown bag with the board) and have these before every school board meeting.

3. If the Legislature changes the way it funds public schools and increases funding for the district, what should the district's priorities be for any additional funding?

I believe smaller class sizes, especially in the early elementary grades, should be the top priority of the district if there is additional funding. I also would really like to see an increased emphasis on vocational education.

With 75% of our students not completing a four year college degree program we need to make sure the majority of our graduates are prepared for a world of work. The Work Force Development Center in Kenai has increased enrollment this year by 200% but we need to make sure our students in all of our schools are receiving practical work skills. We are currently looking at adding offerings in Safety, Advanced Mechanics, Advanced Computer Assisted Drafting and Process Technology. We must do better for all of our students.

4. Have you visited a district school recently? What did you do while you were there?

I attended the newly consolidated Mountain View opening in August and congratulated the staff, students and parents for making a successful transition. I attended six high school graduations in May and awarded high school diplomas.

I also visited six different schools earlier in the year and asked parents, teachers, students and staff to explain what made their schools excellent and what the school board could do to remove barriers to excellence. I submitted those interviews in writing to the board and we have been working to make sure specific needs are being met.

As a candidate, I believe it is unethical for me to be in schools during a campaign season until after the October 2 election.

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