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Governing Board Elections 2018

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The elected officals who comprise a School District Govering Board make important decisions that strongly impact its students, staff, and community. As advocates for the students, the Governing Board sets the direction for the District, establishes the structure to ensure all students are served, provides support, and ensures accountability.

Litchfield Elementary School District has one 2-year seat that will be determined in the General Election on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. There are two candidates for this position. Below please find their responses to our questionnaire to help voters make informed choices. All answers were limited to 150 words. Their responses are published as submitted.

Also included after their questionnaire answers is a Personal Statement given by each of the candidates.

 

picture of Sean Husmoe

Sean Husmoe

melissa Zuidema

Melissa Zuidema

Why do you want to serve on the Governing Board?

SH: For almost three years I have enjoyed the opportunity to serve on the LESD Board.  Our district has an outstanding reputation for student achievement and success in our state, and I am proud to be a part of that process.  I am running for re-election because I want to continue to do my part to help our school district and the community.  With over twenty years as a finance professional, with half of that at not-for-profit organizations, I am well versed in budget preparation, oversight, and leveraging limited resources to get the greatest returns.  Having served as CFO for one of the valley’s largest and most successful non-profit organizations, I have unique experience managing public and private funds for an entity with multiple restrictions.  This gives me a clear understanding of school funding and budgeting so that I can offer guidance to staff and provide responsible oversight. LESD is one of the best in the state at keeping overhead costs low and maximizing dollars that go into the classroom for direct impact on our children. I look forward to ensuring that this history of good stewardship continues.
 

Why do you want to serve on the Governing Board?

MZ: To ensure that all our children have the opportunity for a great education.  To achieve this, there are no shortcuts and no single issue that will provide it. A quality education requires many things. Such as appropriate infrastructure, classes sizes, physical activity, qualified teachers, parent involvement and prudent leadership. Many of these stem from the policies decided at the school board level. My mission as a board member is to approach these decisions pragmatically and in a detailed manner. Gathering feedback from the broader community to ensure that the real impacts of policy match the intended effects.

 

What is your philosophy on the role of a Governing Board member?

SH: A Governing Board member should be familiar with the state’s laws and regulations for schools and districts.  They should understand the funding mechanism for school districts.  Using this knowledge, board members can evaluate staff proposals and offer suggestions and oversight.  A good board member should work seamlessly with the other members of the board, pulling their own weight, while not pushing an individual agenda.  Board members should always be looking through the lens of what is best for the district and all students.  Finally, it is important board members know where to draw the line between board responsibilities and staff responsibilities.  Having worked as CFO for a large non-profit in the valley, I spent over eight years presenting to a board of directors.  This first-hand experience from the staff perspective has helped me define that line of responsibilities on the LESD board.
 

What is your philosophy on the role of a Governing Board member?

MZ: The governing board is the critical link between the district and the broader community. A school board member must participate in the policy decisions that will ensure the ongoing success of the school district and oversee the community’s investment in education.

What is your vision for education in our community?

SH: I believe education is part of our community, and our community is part of education.  This partnership benefits everyone.  A strong education system creates educated students that become educated adults who can make meaningful contributions to our community.  Likewise, a strong community helps support local education programs through volunteerism, support, and funding. Having a highly achieving school district helps make the community a great place to live, start or relocate a business, or settle down for retirement.
 

What is your vision for education in our community?

MZ: Educational attainment is tied to positive outcomes for the entire community. Our community has produced several high performing schools. My vision is to remove any constraints on their performance while ensuring that we hear the concerns of parents, teachers, and community members.

What would you do as a Governing Board member to improve school and student achievement in the Litchfield Elementary School District?

SH: The Governing Board can continue to impact student achievement by ensuring the administration and staff have the resources necessary to do their jobs well.  As a district, we need to be able to attract and retain the most talented employees.  Every role is critical in the education process, from our student-facing roles like teachers and student transporters to our support roles in administration.  Governing Board members must do our part to continue to pressure the state to increase funding for schools, so that we can hire and retain the best employees.  Finally, the Governing Board can work with administration to help create tools to evaluate student performance.  Currently the state-mandated tests only evaluate academic achievement, but we have no way to measure progress in important life skill areas like presentation, preparation, and ability to work well with others.
 

What would you do as a Governing Board member to improve school and student achievement in the Litchfield Elementary School District?

MZ: By broadening the scope of the school board’s membership, I can provide visibility to underrepresented areas, and feedback on the downstream effects of school board policy. I bring first hand experience from Barbara B. Robey Elementary, and Scott Libby Elementary where I’ve worked extensively as PTA president. Coordinating parents, students, teachers and providing school specific feedback at school board meetings.

As a member of the Arizona State PTA board, I have experience with parent volunteers, students, and administrations of schools across the entire state of Arizona. There is no one single item that will guarantee good outcomes, it must be an iterative process of selecting policies that work, applying them, and measuring their results.

What issue(s) in the Litchfield Elementary School District are you most passionate about?

SH: The issue I am most passionate about with respect to LESD is the development of our students.  Academically, we consistently achieve some of the highest results in Arizona, however we still have 30-40% of our students not reaching the state standards.  We need to do better, and we need to start at an early age.  When 35% of our third graders fail to reach the standards set for third grade, they are immediately at a disadvantage for fourth grade.  Our talented fourth grade teachers not only need to educate all of our students with fourth grade information, but also “catch up” the 35% that came in already behind.  We have about the same percentage of students failing to reach the standard at every grade level.  I believe if we could make a significant impact at the youngest ages it would continue to roll through all grades, as our teachers would be inheriting classes of students with each child prepared to learn on day one.

 

What issue(s) in the Litchfield Elementary School District are you most passionate about?

MZ: We have great schools in the Litchfield Elementary School District. My primary issues are the areas where our schools are constrained by inadequate infrastructure, overwhelming class sizes and lack of teacher retention. Many of our schools are succeeding in spite of these limitations, but that doesn’t mean we should become complacent. Despite our short-term successes, there are trends we should be paying attention to. Our class sizes have gone up, teacher retention is down significantly, and key infrastructure maintenance work has been neglected in favor of new school construction. All areas where neglecting the early indicators can lead to larger problems over the long term.

Personal Statement - Sean Husmoe

As a member of the Litchfield Elementary School District (LESD) Governing Board, I have spent nearly three years working to ensure the success of all students. Most notably, our Board had the privilege of hiring our new superintendent, approving the construction of a new school to open next year, and allocating new funds from our voter-approved override and the State of Arizona. I have also worked to attain strong school board training to master the complexities of education, and I recently attended the National School Board Association Annual Conference. I was honored to serve as Litchfield’s representative at the Arizona School Board Association Delegate Assembly. I would like to couple my school board experience with my professional work experience and continue contributing to the success of our district.

With over twenty years as a finance professional, with half of that at not-for-profit organizations, I am well versed in budget preparation, oversight, and leveraging limited resources to get the greatest returns. Having served as CFO for one of the valley’s largest and most successful non-profit organizations, I have unique experience managing public and private funds for an entity with multiple restrictions, which is very similar to a school district. This gives me a clear understanding of school funding and budgeting so that I can offer guidance to staff and provide responsible oversight. LESD is one of the best in the state at keeping overhead costs low and maximizing dollars that go into the classroom for direct impact on our children. I look forward to ensuring that this history of good stewardship continues.

It is critical that LESD is able to attract and retain talented educators and support staff. Our students rely on quality staff for academic growth and social-emotional support. That is why our Board used override and State dollars to approve historic raises for teachers and staff this year. I will continue to support funding allocation that aligns with sound teacher hiring and retention efforts. I want to help LESD continue to be a great place to work, to volunteer, and to receive an education.

Our district is gearing up for a strategic planning process. This plan will define the district’s vision over the next several years, and improved academic achievement will be a key part of this plan. My professional experience in creating and implementing strategic plans will be useful as we strive to achieve stronger academic results.

As a Goodyear resident for the past fourteen years, I have been involved in the community through numerous opportunities at our schools and local sports programs. My wife Melissa and I have two daughters who attend our local schools. I would like to continue to serve on the LESD Governing Board, and would appreciate your vote.

Thank you, Sean Husmoe

Personal Statement - Melissa Zuidema

I have been a resident in the Litchfield community for the past 12 years. As a mom of 4 children (16, 11, 7, and 20 months), I know how valuable an A+ education is for the future. The Litchfield Elementary School District has been an amazing place for students to learn and grow and I hope to be part of helping ensure it continues to be the best. I have led multiple parent groups in our district over the last 12 years. During that time, I have helped grow their membership by more than 100%. My focus has always been to be a voice for all children and to promote parent involvement, as it is the number one indicator for student success.

As a governing board member, I plan to support our educators, as they are the ones in the classroom with our students daily. They put their heart and soul into teaching each day and need to feel supported by admin and the governing board. If we want to continue to be the best, we must do everything we can to retain the amazing teachers we have, as they are the reason we are the best. I will also advocate for school funding from the state to ensure we can continue providing a world class education for all students in the Litchfield district. If we demand that the state fund our schools the way it should, then we would not constantly have to go out for bonds and overrides. We should not settle for band aid fixes to the funding crisis in our state.

I can think independently and apply logic and reasoning while keeping the bottom line in mind. In any major discussion, I remain mission-focused. As a governing board member, I will make myself available to listen, with an open-mind, to all stakeholders in our district and always keep in mind how our actions will promote student growth.

 





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