School Board candidates speak before Oct. 3rd elections

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In part two of our look at this year's Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board race, we'll hear from some of the candidates and current board members.

For this year's municipal election, the school board will see at least one new member, as Vice President Michael O'Brien will not be returning to his seat.

Current holder of seat E on the school board, Vice President Michael O'Brien will be vacating his position when it expires in October.

According to O'Brien, holding a seat on the board is a huge time commitment.

Because of this time commitment, he has missed many nights with his family.
He gives his advice for the new candidates.

Michael O'Brien, School Board Vice President:
"What an ideal candidate needs to roll up their sleeves and get to work. There's a tremendous amount background to every decision we make. Going to the schools, sitting in a classroom, talking to the teachers is critical because there's a lot of great initiatives that just aren't doable or aren't workable given whether it's class size, budgets, or time constraints teachers have."

Candidate Mat Wade has taught in the district for 15 years.
He says he wants to take communication farther than just teachers and administration.

"Communication between the school district, as a school board member our responsibility is to be that bridge between the community and the school. One of the ways you can communicate to the board is to attend he school board meeting. It's intimidating for some of the public to go to those meetings. I would like to reach out more. More town hall meetings. Find out what the people want instead of telling the community what they need."

Certified teacher Michael Kenna, has already begun work on tackling issues the district is facing.

"Me as a parent has my child left off on the side of the road last week when they didn't come. As a former school teacher, having students late every single day is a huge problem, not only for classroom continuity but for that individual child's education and moving forward because every hour counts. As administration and school board, we paid for a contract and that contract is not being honored. So how to do you fix that? I think you fix it by figuring out what the problem is. I've already started talking to the people I think are going to know the best which are the school derivers and parents and what they see as the problem and how we can fix it moving forward."

Former Principal at Denali Elementary, Tim Doran, says his 26 years of educational experience gives him a good understanding of the district.

"This is an opportunity to use my experience in education and that's what got me interested in the board. How can I serve in a different capacity but use my background in education. I've been on the front lines, I've been on board before. This will be a new aspect but I think I can use my strengths to provide the best for kids."

But regardless of what experience a board member has, the consensus is that students are the priority.

Sean Rice, School Board member:
"Just make it your passion. Students are, should be your passion."