Reynolds: System critic wants to return focus to kids, parents

Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2001

Linda Reynolds has lived on the Kenai Peninsula since 1974 and first threw her hat into the political ring last year, when she ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary for a legislative seat.

This year, she is running for the school board along with her friend, Michele DeMilta. Both are running as outside critics seeking major changes.

Reynolds said she decided to run "to get the focus back on the kids and the parents."

Now a full-time business and accounting student at Kenai Peninsula College, she also is the chair of Save Your Dividend Alaska. She lives in Soldotna and has one child in home school and one in high school.

Although she has never attended a school board meeting, she said she has interacted with schools as a parent and has looked at policies.

"I was told it does no good to go to the school board meetings," she said.

Reynolds said her goal is to make the schools more "student friendly," and her greatest asset is her gumption.

"I will stand strong on issues of importance to the kids," she said.

She criticized the district's way of handling disputes between families and staff. The system is weighted so much in favor of the employees that parents' have no options but to sue.

"They take care of the teachers 100 percent. The weakness is they take no consideration of the students and parents," she said.

The district's hiring practices are going in the wrong direction, she said. The emphasis should be on hiring peninsula residents with bachelor's degrees. The district's local hire is inadequate, and master's degrees are a pricey extravagance inappropriate for public schools. Teachers who get advanced degrees are pricing themselves out of the market, she said.

"We don't need those kinds of certifications here. That is a waste of money."

Reynolds also said too many teachers are teaching outside their areas of expertise, and she criticized the special needs program as inefficient, impersonal and poor at helping students meet their true potential.

Right now the teachers and support staff unions have too much influence in the district and interfere with the distribution of resources that would be best for the students, she said.

That is one factor leading to the movement of parents like herself out of the district and into home schooling. If people like herself and DeMilta can change the district from the top down to focus more on the parents' needs, the exodus could be reversed, she said.

"Our goal is to fix the school district so parents have a choice," she said.

Sen. Jerry Ward, R-Nikiski, said he knows Reynolds through her political interests and is supporting her bid.

"She should be on the school board because she cares about her country and her community," he said.

"She truly understands she would be a servant and working for the people."

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