Public image, morale, falling finances and declining enrollment in Scottsdale Unified School District were top issues Saturday at two public forums with the district’s six candidates for superintendent.
About 60 people attended each forum, where finalists to succeed Barbara Erwin spoke. Each candidate described his or her experiences and goals for the district.
TACY ASHBY, 48
Title: Deputy superintendent for the Arizona Department of Education
Boosting morale and building trust in the community should be goal No. 1, Ashby said.
"Respect and inclusion. Above all, we will let people know we care," said Ashby, a graduate of Scottsdale schools and former assistant superintendent in Paradise Valley and Cave Creek, where she helped establish a system for re sponding to student threats in the wake of the Columbine shootings in Colorado.
JOHN BARACY, 54
Title: Superintendent of Tempe Elementary School District
To boost district enrollment, Baracy proposed a plan for Scottsdale similar to one he implemented in Tempe: Capturing thousands of families who work but don’t live in Scottsdale "by telling our story." An increase in enrollment would boost finances, he said, which could decrease class sizes and enhance programs now on the chopping block.
SHONNY BRIA, 56
Title: Superintendent of Battle Ground School District in Washington
For the first time since 1993, Bria said her Washington district is asking voters in May to app rove a $104 million bond issue. But first, Bria said, her district worked to regain voters’ trust.
"I want to make the superintendency fair and open to everyone," said Bria, a former Mesa and Deer Valley teacher.
MARJORIE KAPLAN, 63
Title: Superintendent of Shawnee Mission School District near Kansas City, Mo.
Kaplan said she substitutes to stay in touch with students and is earning her English as a Second Language certification.
She said improving finances is key to enhancing programs and morale. She said her district rai sed $184 million from businesses. "That is really reflective of the confidence our community has in the schools," said the former Paradi se Valley superintendent.
VICKIE MARKAVITCH, 60
Title: Superintendent of Penn-Harris-Madison School District in Indiana
Markavitch did not take the easy route, she said, when she pushed her governing board to deal with declining enrollment by changing bus routes, school schedules and campus boundaries in order to save educational programs. She said she took the route that was best for students. She also said test scores in her district have increased from a 65 percent "proficiency" level to 85 percent. "I believe in making the best better," she said.
CAROL "KIT" WOOD, 53
Title: Superintendent of Maricopa County Regional School District While an administrator in Deer Valley Unified School District, Wood said she helped establish a magnet charter school. She now oversees schools including the Thomas J. Pappas schools for homeless children.
"There are so many students out there who are needy and come from different walks of life," said Wood, who also served as a legislative liaison while in Deer Valley.