In the November election there are six candidates vying for three seats on the Dysart Unified School District governing board.
Current board members Christine A.K. Pritchard and Jay Leonard are seeking reelection, while member Jennifer Tanner chose not to run.
The candidates running are Christine A.K. Pritchard, Jay Leonard, Rhiannon Miett, Jo Grant, Chrystal Chaffin and Charles Wilson.
The Surprise Indpenenedent will feature each candidate leading up to the election
Get to know Ms. Grant here:
Q: Please list your 3-5 major priorities for the district and how you plan to address each of them?
A: As a member of the Governing Board our first priority should be getting back to in-person classes that are safe for everyone. We all want students, teachers and staff to be able to return to the classroom as quickly as possible but again it has to be safe. We are navigating through unchartered territory, and there are still so many unanswered questions but when we use data as our guide, we can maintain our priority of safety first.
As a member of the Governing Board, I will work with fellow board members to continue to build strong relationships with the cities in the district. These partnerships of good schools and great communities improve economic development, it improves home values, and it supports public safety. Being a good partner to our community is key to building a brighter future for all of us.
Another priority is communication. There is so much information being disseminated right now, especially through social media. Parents are having to make unique decisions for their children. Everyone needs to be on the same page, and we need to ensure that our messaging is uniform and clear. Offering more town halls or Facebook live events would certainly help keep the lines of communication open.
The effects of the pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of our students. The normalcy of school — dances, fall festivals, other social activities — all of those familiar things that make student life fun have been put on the back burner. The Dysart School District is doing an excellent job making sure to have social workers in our schools, but I would like to see this expanded to counselors in elementary schools to assist students who are struggling or in distress.
Q: What is your occupational background?
A: Prior to moving to Surprise from Oro Valley, I served on the Amphitheater School Board (in the Tucson area). I am retired. I worked for over 30 years for the state of Arizona. The last 28 years, I managed the Southern Arizona Office of the State Senate and House of Representatives.
Q: How do you plan to address the budgetary issues the district faces?
A: The majority of funding for schools is dependent on the state and federal government. Education funding in Title 15 is a complex subject. Budgets are specified by the Legislature and the transparency of those budgets and spending is required to maintain public trust. I have always appreciated how easy it is to review Dysart’s budgets, finance reports and audits as well as to ask questions. As a board member, I would encourage the district to remain diligent in its transparency because public trust is critical when we need to go out for renewal of the district’s override.
Q: What are your thoughts on the innovation and the district as education takes on an even bigger technological role?
A: Dysart has been ahead of the curve. I have spoken to parents in other districts who are scrambling to set up online classes and getting devices to students. Dysart has been a leader in supporting our students through this pandemic. We need to continue to be innovative and creative in our methods of ensuring academic success.