All five candidates running for three seats on the Ketchikan School Board attended a Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday to talk about their experience and priorities.
Conan Steele, who currently works as a testing specialist at University of Alaska Southeast, says he has worn many hats during his almost 20 years in Ketchikan, including a taxi driver and special education aide.
Matt Tibbles moved to Ketchikan three years ago with his wife and children. He has a degree in youth and family development, and works for Women in Safe Homes. He also serves on the Ketchikan Youth Initiative board.
Matt Eisenhower is a father to three boys, and has background in hospital administration. He says this work has given him experience as a spokesman at the state and local level.
Misty Archibald was born in Ketchikan and worked in several industries before returning to school and beginning her current work with Ketchikan Indian Community advocating in court for foster children.
Alma Manabat Parker currently works for the State of Alaska Health and Social Services and is a local business owner.
After introductions the candidates were asked wheteher the school district is adequately funded by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough and the relationship between the two bodies.
Conan Steele, like most candidates answered yes and no. “I would say we’re already a lean mean machine. We’re funded adequately to survive. I don’t believe were funded adequately to thrive though. ”
Matt Eisenhower said the Borough Assembly and School Board have different priorities, but the two bodies need to compromise.“What I would do with the School Board is to continue to ask good questions, because questions and conversation lead to understanding, which ultimately will lead to good compromise.”
The candidates were asked how they would prioritize funding for arts and humanities , advanced placement classes, activities, and vocational and technical training.
Archibald chose vocational training as her number one priority. Parker’s number one was arts and humanities. Steele says he would like to hear from the public, but leans strongly toward vocational training. Eisenhower said they are all essential, and Tibbles was also hesitant to choose one.
“In some ways it’s really unfair to pit AP against voc-tech against arts and humanities, because each of those represent a section of kids in our school district. So, in essence we’re saying this kid deserves more than this kid. Even though we may not be verbally saying that, that’s what are actions are saying.”
The candidates also took questions from the audience about what activites they participate in and the Excellent Education Enhancement grant. None of the candidates say they support EEE, which would provide vouchers to students learning outside of the district.
The candidates were asked who they would like to serve with. Although a majority of the candidates respectfully declined to respond, Archibald endorsed Parker.
“ My reason being I think that our board should reflect the diversity of our community and supporting myself also, I think it would be awesome to have a Filipino and a Native representative on our board.” Parker, who is Filipino, responded with a similar sentiment.
“There has not been a representative from the Filipino community. Our school board does need to reflect the student body and there is a huge amount of Filipinos in our community.”
Early voting is open now, and Election Day is October 6th.
Here is the full audio from the luncheon: