Debra Holle manages the Kenai Peninsula office of the American Red Cross, but she's ready to take on the challenge of restructuring the Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board.
Holle is in favor of aligning the school board seats with borough assembly seats, dividing school board members among peninsula districts.
"I believe we need to do a better job of communicating with the public," Holle said. "A person from that district would be a better conduit back to the community."
Mayor John Williams called Holle a good organizer and said she is committed to the community.
"She's a good civic-minded person," Williams said.
Holle spent six years on the borough planning commission and three years on the borough assembly, representing the Tustumena district 9, an area that extends south from Kasilof to Anchor Point. She was also president of the Kenai Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Organization, a group focused on economic development in rural and unincorporated areas of the borough.
After completing a teacher's degree at the University of Alaska in Anchorage and being certified to teach in Alaska, Holle took an alternate path. She began doing private tutoring and working as a substitute teacher, and even acting as a substitute principal at North Star Elementary on one occasion.
Working for the Red Cross, however, provided her a broader opportunity to teach.
"You use your teaching degree in many ways," Holle said. "I have a thorough understanding of what teachers need to teach."
Holle said her community involvement has provided her a good working relationship with influential state policy-makers.
"We need people who can work well with state representatives," she said. "We have big issues to face."
Such issues include reconciling the district with home schoolers and what she sees as needed overall curricula changes.
"There is a perception that the school board really isn't responding to community priorities," Holle said. "That needs to be improved upon."
She offers as an example the number of parents who are choosing alternative educational options for their children like home schooling.
"They feel that educational goals are not being met," she said. "The school district can do more to correct that.
"I would encourage the school board to research by personal contact how we could meet (home school parents') needs," she said.
By giving board members a territory, Holle believes there would be someone who could reach home schoolers and respond to their needs.
"Our P.E. programs and vocational education programs haven't been standardized," Holle said.
Holle suggested developing districtwide physical education and vocational programs. These would include filling vocational students' courses with some college preparatory classes.
"They should have the chance to go to college, too, if they want."
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