Mesa’s changing demographics are on the minds of all four candidates running for the Mesa Unified School District’s governing board.
The candidates, competing for two open seats, say the school district’s key issues include accommodating a growing Hispanic population, a lack of new neighborhood growth, and a lack of new state revenue.
“The growth is basically tapped out. (Mesa schools) are facing zero growth, and I think we’re in for some significant challenges for that,” said Michael Hughes, the only incumbent among the candidates.
Hughes and Dave Lane, who has run unsuccessfully for a seat twice in the past, were endorsed by both the Mesa Education Association, which represents teachers, and the Mesa Education Support Personnel Association, which represents many certified employees in the district.
Afton Zapata, 34, is a 1989 graduate of Mountain View High School. He says competition with charter schools and promoting diversity within the district are two issues he would like to address.
Meanwhile, Alayne Udall Favreau, 48, whose six children have all attended Mesa High School, mentioned keeping strong performing arts programs as a top priority.
Occupation: Executive director of PREHAB of Arizona, Inc.
Education: Bachelor’s degree from ASU; master’s in education from Nova University
Experience: Member of school board since 1994; serves on Mesa’s Gang Prevention Steering Committee, the board of directors of the East Valley Boys and Girls Club, Helaman House, Family Life Center and East Valley Art Academy
Issues: Funding: “It’s always critically important to maintain the positive relationship with the state Legislature,” he said.
Competition with charters, private schools: “We need to make sure there are multiple choices for our students in terms of types of program and types of schools, whether alternative schools or magnet schools.”
Occupation: Automotive technician, trainer
Education: Bachelor’s from University of California at San Diego
Experience: Mesa Leadership Training and Development; MPS Special Needs Parent Advisory Council; chairman for School Bond Promotion Committee last year; Franklin School FPO Board; Mesa Community College Commission on Excellence in Education
Issues: Growing English-learner population: “I live in the part of town that is being affected by English Language Learner issues,” he said. “We have to find ways to reach out to this group and help them reach their potential.”
Flat enrollment and rising costs: Says schools in the east side of the district are becoming crowded, too.”It’s a real balancing act, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” he said, adding that bond money for new schools was a short-term fix.
Web site: www.davelane.net
Alayne Udall Favreau
Education: AA degree from Brigham Young University; enrolled in bachelor’s degree classes at BYU
Experience: Mesa High School Improvement Advisory Council; Art masterpiece teacher at Porter Elementary School; Mesa High Grad night council; chairwoman of the Christmas Temple Lights Committee; former Taylor Junior High School PTO president
Issues: Performing arts: “As science requirement increase, you lose electives and the first things to go are hose fine arts. Mesa has such a legacy of quality performing arts, I would really stand up and shout to keep those in place.”
Growing English-learner populations and Flat enrollment and rising costs: “Its an enormous issue. I don’t know that I have the answers for those, but I do have a good parent-perspective.”
Occupation: Substitute teacher,
Education: Bachelor’s degree from ASU; master’s in educational leadership from NAU
Experience: Mesa Leadership Training and Development; PTO member at Zaharis Elementary School; LDS Stake relief society counselor
Issues: Competition with charters, private schools: Says offering continued choices to parents is the key.
Keeping a variety of elective courses: “It’s hard to try to fit in those desired electives that the students want to take, and yet keep up with the demands of the state and federal guidelines,” she said. “We need to . . . use our resources effectively so that educational benefits are for all students,” she said.
Web site: www.aftonzapata.com