Meet the candidate: Starr Marsett
Starr Marsett is a candidate for School Board Seat B in the 2019 Municipal Elections. If elected, she will serve a three-year term for the School Board for the Municipality of Anchorage.
KTVA asked Marsett, as well as those running against her, to answer a few questions about her stance on key issues in the community as part of our election coverage this year. Each candidate was given an equal amount of time to respond to these questions and informed of the set publishing date.
Here are Marsett's answers to those questions.
Question 1 – Would you support school board candidates running for specific districts rather than the current citywide approach? Please explain your answer.
No I do not support school board candidates running for specific districts rather than the current citywide approach.
It would certainly be easier to run as a candidate. I served on the ASD Capital Improvement Advisory Committee and at one time it was made up of individuals representing their school areas. It was very hard to get a consensus for anything that their schools were not a part of. Since that time members are made up of community members that do not just represent one area, but all schools. It seems to work better as now everyone is advocating for the schools in most need and not just their area of representation.
Question 2 – Gov. Dunleavy unveiled $1.6B in budget cuts in February. As lawmakers make their way through the budget process, what will you do to address budget challenges?
As a district the ASD administration is looking at programs that might possibly be eliminated based on enrollment, as a starting point. With Dunleavy's budget every program could go away and we would still not cover the budget shortfall. The only thing left would be cut teachers.
Question 3 – Along those lines, there are concerns classroom sizes are growing and will grow even more due to Gov. Dunleavy’s budget cuts. What is your plan to address that?
Classroom sizes are growing. My grandson is in a class of 5th graders with 31 students in his classroom. There are many classrooms with 30 or more students. The ASD budget that the board approved ask for funding to keep our classroom at an adequate level for teaching purposes. That is the budget if approved by the Municipality will be what we are sending to Juneau with a message that we are no longer going to accept the budget given, but have expectations that the state will fund education at a level that is needed to educate all of our students.
Question 4 – ASD officials have said 87 percent of the budget covers personnel, more than 60 percent of whom are teachers, nurses, librarians and counselors. Gov. Dunleavy’s cuts represent a loss of 1,000 – 1,800 jobs, according to the district's chief financial officer Jim Anderson. How will you ensure schools are staffed appropriately?
Good question how can you make sure schools are staffed appropriately, if given the Governor's budget and we are forced to layoff 1/3 of our teaching staff it will be almost impossible. If a budget is not passed before June 1st, those 1200 teachers could be receiving pink slips, half of those teachers will more than likely not return.
Question 5 – Elementary school teachers have expressed frustration about mandated curriculum and have requested more freedom when it comes to teaching material. How will you support teachers in the classroom while balancing the educational needs of students?
It has been about 10 years since the district has adopted a new English Language Arts curriculum. As a district we needed to make changes for the benefit of our students who were not showing growth. It is important that teachers are able to express their concerns and that as a district we listen. It will take all of the district to make this curriculum a success for our students.
Question 6 – Along those lines, the school community has expressed a desire for more recess time. What is your stance on the benefits of giving more recess?
I agree that our elementary students need more time for lunch and recess. It is finding the time to work in another 15 minutes. We may have to look at making our school day longer by 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon. We do have one of the shortest school days in the nation. Another factor is principals can extend the recess and lunch time at any time, their only obligation is a minimum of 45 minutes.
Question 7 – Test scores in the district run the gamut from highly proficient to not proficient. How do we help underperforming schools?
Some of our lowest performing schools are in some of our lowest economic neighborhoods. Until we can address the trauma that our students come to school with each day, they are not prepared to learn. We need social workers in these schools to help address the needs of students and their families.