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West Ada School Board candidates talk top priorities, COVID-19, growth

West Ada School District
Posted at 4:54 PM, Oct 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 08:20:13-04

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Four candidates are vying for two seats on the West Ada Board of Trustees. We spoke with each candidate about their top priorities, COVID-19 and growth.

Zone 1

Brent Hart was born and raised in Meridian and has a background in special education both as a parent and as someone who worked with kids and adults with developmental disabilities. He has four kids in the West Ada School District, including one in special education.

He said he has three top priorities: addressing learning loss, special education and addressing effects of growth.

"We just went through a pandemic which has been pretty major so learning loss has been enormous for all of the kiddos," Hart said.

To address growth, "I think we need to kind of look at where the growth is happening to determine where we're putting those schools. I think funding is a majorly big important part of that," he said. "I think we need to stabilize where our schools are now making sure that we're retaining teachers and support staff so we can support the current school environment."

On COVID, Hart said having set times when masking is required and when to look at removing the requirement is important as well as having set criteria.

"Whether it's crisis standards of care or transmission rates in the schools, things like that so there's at least criteria people can look at before making those decisions," Hart said.

Lori Frasure has lived in Meridian for 16 years and has one child who has graduated from West Ada and another at Owyhee High School.

She said kids first is her top priority, "We need to make sure that we're really focused on making sure they leave high school informed, ready to face the world. That they feel like they understand what options are available to them, that they've been given the proper education to make choices and do that."

On COVID, Frasure said the current school board has not been listening.

"Our population really wants choice when it comes to masks, when it comes to vaccines, when it comes to whether or not their kids are at school five days a week or if that parent feels it's appropriate for them to be in a homeschool situation, which our school district has offered for years," she said.

She said for anyone who is concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in West Ada Schools, masks being optional is important.

"For people that feel like it's important for their children to wear masks, then they need to have the ability to do that and I know there's part of our population that feels like we need no masks, and I'm not for that either," she said.

On growth, Frasure said there are existing schools that need updates that need to be addressed as the district continues to grow.

"Maybe there's schools we need to build on to, maybe there's schools that will need to be constructed from scratch, but in that context that's definitely something we need to address and listening to our population is going to be critical," she said.

Frasure's campaign has raised more than $20,000 which is far more than her opponent, Hart who has raised more than $1,300, both according to campaign finance reports on the state Secretary of State's website.

Some of Frasure's donations have come from companies and individuals out-of-state. She said the donations from companies are family and out-of-state donations have come from friends and family who used to live here.

Hart has stopped accepting campaign donations.

"I think that school board elections shouldn't be about money. It's a non-paid position, it should be about the district and what you're doing. I think it can be a dangerous thing to have too much outside—if you're talking about local control—I think it's very important that your money stays local," he said. "It's not really necessary to have that much money for a school board position."

Zone 3

Anita Beckman was in the Air Force and did combat plans and training. She also has a degree and experience in accounting. She has four kids, two of which are school-aged.

She said her top priorities include health and safety and maintaining support staff.

"I think we need to use best decision-making practices to make those decisions and kind of what that boils down to me is listening to the experts whether that's in health, safety or education, so it's just best practice decision-making," she said.

But she said also wants to be a voice for all and listen to all stakeholders.

"I'm going to fall back on data and experts to help guide in that decision-making process, but I also want to be transparent into how we came to the decision that we made," she said.

Using the example of masking, Beckman said she wants to look for ways to accommodate both sides of the issue.

"Whether that looks at funding where we can get from the state or federal level to help maybe accommodate both sides of the argument because that's not going to go away," she said. "If that were any other issue on the table, you better believe the district would be looking into it and saying what can we do to accommodate this group of people."

On COVID-19, she said she would follow CDC guidelines, but also local health officials and agencies guidelines because what's happening here might be different than what's happening in other parts of the country.

After the shooting at a mall in Boise, Beckman said combatting gun violence is also a top priority.

"Last year is Southeast Idaho we had an incident at one of our schools, so just making sure that schools in West Ada are prepared to meet those needs and to mitigate anything from happening,"

On growth, Beckman said the district should be looking at classroom size, staffing and facilities.

Angie Redford was born and raised in Idaho and has kids in West Ada School District.

She said one of her priorities is keeping kids first and being a voice for those who don't feel heard on the school board, "A lot of people have felt like they haven't been heard, that they're voiceless, and I plan to be their voice on the board."

She also would prioritize getting kids back on track and getting the help teachers need to accomplish this.

"We've seen some ISAT scores that reflect that there's been some learning setbacks," she said.

On COVID-19, she said she's pro-choice on masks.

"Parents know their kids, they love their kids, I think it's really important that we give parents that choice," she said.

She said for anyone who is concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in West Ada Schools that she supports anyone who feels that they need to wear a mask and that there's an online school option.

On growth, she said funding and budgeting are important, "making sure that we're using our funds wisely and prioritizing what's most important."

Redford has raised more than $11,000 dollars for her campaign, some from political campaigns like Jim Rice for Idaho and the Committee to Elect Joe Palmer, who are both Republican lawmakers.

School board races are nonpartisan, but Redford said they have a right to donate to whoever they support and that her ideas align with theirs.

This amount outweighs Beckman's roughly $2,000.

"I've been relying mainly on social media, people within the Treasure Valley," she said.

She has stopped taking campaign donations she said because election day is less than a week away.