In their own words: School Board Seat A Incumbent Jennifer Reader
NN: What are your qualifications and why do you want to re-run for School Board?
Jennifer Reader: Qualifications for running are dictated by the City of Nome and they are as follows: 1. A U.S. Citizen qualified to vote in state elections. 2. A resident of the City of Nome for thirty (30) days immediately preceding the election. 3. Registered to vote in state elections at a residence address within the municipality at least thirty (30) days before the municipal election at which the person seeks to vote. 4. Not disqualified under Article V of the Alaska Constitution.
I was born in the United States and have lived in Alaska for 39 years, 19 years of which have been here in Nome, Alaska. I have been registered to vote since I was 18-years-old and proudly served my country in the Alaska Army National Guard from the age of 17 until my retirement 20 years later. I am not disqualified under Article V of the Alaska Constitution.
I am re-running for Seat A of the Nome School Board because I have a passion to advocate for all students and the community of Nome. I feel I have provided sound, moral and ethical leadership as a member of our board for the past six years and have been a reputable voice for the community and all of the students of Nome.
NN: Describe your experience with education in Nome and highlight the changes you’d like to see in the Nome School District.
Jennifer Reader: My experience with education in Nome comes from 17 years as a mother of five former students, one current student, and another scheduled to start next year in the Nome Public Schools. I also served one year as the Quality Schools Coordinator and two years (on two separate occasions) as the Nome Elementary School Secretary. I am currently a volunteer in my daughter’s classroom three times a week, the Vice President of the Nome School Board of Education and a Member at Large on the Nome Preschool Association Board.
Changes I would like to see in the Nome School District are:
• Equitable and timely state funding. The cost of running a school district in Nome is significantly higher than an urban school district and we are not given funding to keep our resources in the classroom instead of on the overhead costs of running our district. Our elected officials, to get what they want in other areas, have historically used education funding as leverage and we are often left wondering exactly how much and what will be funded well past the time our budget is to be complete. This is an unacceptable way to fund education.
• Paying the professionals who teach our students the money they are worth and be able to provide them resources available to other first class Alaskan cities. Providing adequate pay will help recruit and retain quality educators and increase student proficiency.
• More parent involvement in your child’s education. This relationship is vital because it impacts a child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Students with involved parents tend to earn higher grades, have better social skills and are more likely to graduate.
NN: Recent release of PEAKS (Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools) test scores showed a low level of Nome students’ proficiency in language and math. How do you propose to improve this performance?
Jennifer Reader: The school district has already begun to improve the performance of our students in language and math as seen in our NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment results. Students take this exam three times a year and it measures the growth they make allowing teachers to make adjustments to improve instruction during the school year, unlike the PEAK assessment. A new math curriculum was adopted last year and a new reading program the year before that by Nome Elementary School to facilitate these improvements and align instruction to standards. These are the standards measured on the PEAKS assessment the state intends on using from here on out to measure our school’s progress.
NN: Budget constraints are to be expected as the state budget contracts annually. How do you propose the school district prepares for decreasing budget realities as costs rise?
Jennifer Reader: We all need to write to our legislators to encourage them to find a way to adequately fund education. We cannot be expected to continually cut funding and still be able to run the school district. It costs money to run each facility. It costs money to pay people. About 85 percent of our budget is non-negotiable. The state needs to seriously figure out a way to fund PUBLIC education as mandated by the State of Alaska Constitution and stop trying to figure out ways to cut it out of the budget. The only way that will happen is if we, as constituents, voice our support for continued adequate funding for our children.
NN: What are your thoughts for improving recruitment efforts to find and keep new teachers?
Jennifer Reader: PAY our teachers for their valued expertise. Make our legislators aware that every time they threaten to cut education, which in turn makes school districts consider cutting staff, which in turn makes educators start looking for new jobs elsewhere, they make recruitment efforts extremely difficult. If we cannot provide stability how do we expect to recruit and retain quality educators for our students?