School board elections in Phoenix 2022: Candidates share ideas on K-12 key issues

Voters enter the polling station at the Phoenix Art Museum on Aug. 2, 2022, to vote in the primary election.
Voters enter the polling station at the Phoenix Art Museum on Aug. 2, 2022, to vote in the primary election.

Maricopa County has 58 public school districts. This year, 180 people have filed signatures to run for school board positions across Maricopa County.

The Arizona Republic sent a survey to all candidates who filed to run in 2022. We committed to publish their answers, to help voters in every school district make an informed choice.

What does a school board do?

A school board is responsible for setting the mission and policies of a district and makes some of the biggest decisions about how and what children learn.

Board members are responsible for allocating public resources, hiring and evaluating the superintendent, setting salaries for employees, approving curriculum materials and adopting the school calendar.

Where can I find information about candidates in my district?

You can find out your school district by signing in to your voter information at

Click on your school district to reach the information most quickly.

Because of the volume of answers, The Republic divided candidates' answers by region: Phoenix, East Valley and West Valley.

School board elections: East Valley | West Valley | What school boards do

This article includes all responses received and will be updated as more candidates submit their answers. Send answers to reporter Renata Cló at The deadline is Oct. 12, the day early voting starts. 

Alhambra Elementary School District

Three people are running for two four-year seats on the Alhambra Elementary School District governing board.

Candidates are Matthew Nevarez and incumbents Cathleen O'Neil Frantz and Christian Solorio Acuna.

Manuel Oropeza, an incumbent, will be appointed to a two-year seat.

Solorio Acuna did not respond to The Republic's attempts to reach him. Nevarez did not submit his answers by the time of publishing.


Can you introduce yourself please? How long have you lived in Maricopa County, what do you do for a living, and any additional information about yourself you think voters would like to know about you?

Cathleen O'Neil Frantz: "My name is Cathleen O’Neil Frantz. I have lived in Maricopa County and the Alhambra school district since 1976. I have been in education since 2002 as a 5th and 6th classroom teacher and for the past 14 years as a Literacy Coach in the Phoenix Public Elementary School District. I have served as a school board member on the Alhambra Elementary School Board for 8 years. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, with an English as a Second Language Endorsement, from Arizona State University. I earned my Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in reading from Grand Canyon University. I am an elected member of my Homeowners’ Association, serving as the president since 2009. I have one son and one grandson. I believe all children deserve an education that supports the whole child and that leads them to college and career readiness."

2020 election results

Do you believe in the 2020 election results?

Cathleen O'Neil Frantz: "There was no evidence to prove that the 2020 Presidential election was invalid, so yes, I believe the 2020 election is valid."

Main ideas

Based on the limitations and powers of a school board member, what’s your platform?  

Cathleen O'Neil Frantz: "My platform is:

"All students should have access to a highly effective teacher that inspires them to reach their full potential towards college and career readiness.

"With that in mind, it is imperative that we insure all students are at grade level.

"We need to provide STEM and Social/Emotional (SEL) instruction in all grade levels.

"We need fully funded districts that attract highly effective staff members."

What do you believe to be the biggest issue impacting K-12 students in Arizona? 

Cathleen O'Neil Frantz: "The biggest issue impacting K-12 students is not being at grade level which is often a result of having family financial hardships. If public schools were fully funded we would be more effective at getting students to grade level."

Diversity, equity and inclusion issues

How will you navigate the challenges regarding national rhetoric spilling into local schools related to critical race theory, social-emotional learning, LGBTQ inclusion, and equity issues? 

Cathleen O'Neil Frantz: "Each of these issues are very separate and need to be considered individually. Some of these issues do not apply to K-8 education. It is imperative that our students receive a well-rounded educational experience that is applicable to their maturity level."

Public education funding

How do you think the state should support public education? Do you believe in expanding school vouchers? 

Cathleen O'Neil Frantz: "As an elementary school board member and a public school teacher, I believe the state needs to regard public education as a profession that should be as highly sought as any other profession. Those in public education are in front of students each and every day. These students are at the center of our communities and our future. The state needs to increase the educator and support staff wages to reflect these important positions.

"The state needs to fund public schools so that public school districts can offer choice public schools within their districts to meet the needs of the wide variety of diverse learners.

"I support school vouchers to an extent. Not every school meets the needs of every child. This is why parents should have the opportunity for the choice in their child’s education."

Professional shortages

How do you plan to address teacher, education professionals and school nurse shortages? 

Cathleen O'Neil Frantz: "To address staff shortages we need the state to fund the public school system to be highly competitive in the marketplace. Teaming with community resources, like colleges and universities, is one way to help fill some of the gaps from staff shortages, but it does not solve the problem of uncompetitive wages."

Capital projects

Several schools in the Valley need long-term repairs and updates. What is your plan to fund renovations? 

Cathleen O'Neil Frantz: "As a school board member I have to be fiscally responsible to make sure buildings are maintained, repaired, and updated as needed. The state needs to fully fund public education so that school boards can make these necessary repairs and updates. I will continue to support bond overrides for the district."

Additional information

Anything you would like to add? 

Cathleen O'Neil Frantz: "I believe it is very important to have public educators on the school board to represent those who are at school sites every day. These are the people with first-hand knowledge and expertise about how schools are operating and their needs.

"Our public school system has helped this country become what it is today by attempting to give every child a chance to achieve their version of the American Dream."

Cartwright Elementary School District

Three people are running for two four-year seats on the Cartwright Elementary School District governing board.

Candidates include Daniel Cantu and incumbents Lydia Hernandez and Pedro Lopes. They did not submit their answers by the time of publishing.

Creighton Elementary School District

Two people, Katie Gipson Mclean and Sophia Carrillo Dahl, will be appointed to the two four-year open seats on the Creighton Elementary School District governing board.

Gipson Mclean answered the questions.


Can you introduce yourself please? How long have you lived in Maricopa County, what do you do for a living, and any additional information about yourself you think voters would like to know about you? 

Katie Gipson Mclean: "I am running for Creighton Elementary School District Governing Board. I have lived in Maricopa County on and off for a total of 27 years. I am a proud Creighton District alumna and I graduated from Camelback High School in 2005. I am a first-generation college student and graduate with a bachelor's degree from ASU in Secondary Education Social Studies. I am a former licensed teacher who worked in public high schools in Portland, Oregon for five years before going to law school at Willamette University. I live in East Phoenix with my husband, Reese, and our two sons. I work as a Deputy Public Defender for Maricopa County."

2020 election results

Do you believe in the 2020 election results?

Katie Gipson Mclean: "100% without question."

Main ideas

Based on the limitations and powers of a school board member, what’s your platform?  


"We must adequately pay our teachers and staff. Our district continues to face staffing shortages and is losing teachers and staff at an alarming rate. The same things we employ to attract teachers and staff should be what retains them. We must listen to our teachers and staff and provide them with meaningful and intentional development opportunities.


"Creighton is a diverse, Title I, district. There is so much to celebrate within our district however we are not immune to the unique issues our students face. We must work to heal our relationships and develop equitable policies to operate by to ensure all our students and families thrive.


"I believe that schools should be the centers of our communities. Our district serves our community and we should know what’s going on. We need to switch up how we engage families and the community at every step of the way. We have to meet folks where they are at, doing so will only strengthen the education and services we can provide."

What do you believe to be the biggest issue impacting K-12 students in Arizona? 

Katie Gipson Mclean: "Adequate funding of pubic education which I believe should include funds for extensive social and emotional supports as well."

Diversity, equity and inclusion issues

How will you navigate the challenges regarding national rhetoric spilling into local schools related to critical race theory, social-emotional learning, LGBTQ inclusion, and equity issues? 

Katie Gipson Mclean: "I believe that the vast majority of people do not know what critical race theory actually is. The term is thrown around to represent nearly anything that does not subscribe to 'traditional' pedagogy and frankly it’s become a dog whistle of sorts. I believe in teaching accurate history, even if it is uncomfortable because it is imperative we learn from our pasts to improve our futures. I believe in age-appropriate, science-based, sex education. I believe that we must foster a district-wide culture for teachers, staff, families, and students, which is based on inclusivity and care. I will not cower to any outside interests who try to influence changes in the district curriculum based on uneducated, prejudicial, fear-mongering."

Public education funding

How do you think the state should support public education? Do you believe in expanding school vouchers? 

Katie Gipson Mclean: "The State Legislature should return school funding to pre-1990s levels, adjusted for inflation of course. There has been a strategic assault on public school funding in Arizona for nearly 35 years but what do we have to show for it? Arizona ranks either last or nearly last, in almost all national education rankings. If defunding public education was as successful and equitable as privatization champions believe it to be, where are the statistics that show it? They don’t exist and they never will. Our public schools should be the centers of our communities and our communities will only be as successful as our public schools. We must fully invest in our public schools if we want our communities to thrive."

Professional shortages

How do you plan to address teacher, education professionals and school nurse shortages? 

Katie Gipson Mclean: "Creighton is facing both a teacher and staffing shortage. We must listen and respond to the needs of our teachers and staff. If we make decisions that center on those who are most impacted, we will usually land closest to where we need to be in order to both attract folks and retain them. It seems simple but it’s surprising how many district administrators don’t actually listen to the needs of their teachers and staff."

Capital projects

Several schools in the Valley need long-term repairs and updates. What is your plan to fund renovations? 

Katie Gipson Mclean: "I wish we did not have to rely on Capital Overrides for the bulk of our infrastructure budget. However, given budget realities, it is one of the best ways we can leverage resources for much-needed improvements. That being said, one way many districts can cut costs is by closely monitoring contracts after bids are approved. The same small group of contractors has ruled the K-12 education market for quite some time. They are able to bid low and win contracts. However, once work begins we see multiple requests for increases in budgets outside of the originally approved contract amounts. While there have been improvements in laws regarding the bid systems we must do more to ensure transparency in our bidding processes and we must ensure that we are not consistently awarding contracts to companies who begin work only to request additional funding."

Additional information

Anything you would like to add? 

Katie Gipson Mclean: "Our cities and counties should do more to help improve K-12 education. These governmental entities can help improve public health initiatives and nutrition programs. Cities can fully fund head start programs and beef up after-school programs and summer school programs. They can also do more to assist with college and/or career preparation. The legislature may not be in a political space to fully fund public schools but other government offices have the ability to help in innovative ways."

Deer Valley Unified School District

Six people filed signatures to run for two four-year seats on the Deer Valley Unified School District governing board.

Candidates are Craig Beckman, Paul Carver, Stephanie Simacek and Tony Bouie. David Alvarado was removed from the ballot, and Melody Holehan-Kopas dropped out of the race.


Can you introduce yourself please? How long have you lived in Maricopa County, what do you do for a living, and any additional information about yourself you think voters would like to know about you? 

Craig Beckman: "My name is Craig Beckman, and I’m running for Deer Valley Unified School District governing board. I’ve been an Arizona and Maricopa County resident for 10 years, residing within the Deer Valley Unified School District for eight years. I’m a local business owner — a full-service marketing and advertising agency specializing in marketing and communications for small-to-medium-sized businesses and nonprofits, both locally and nationally.

"I’m a father, a husband, and public education advocate. I have an 8-year-old in the district, and my 4-year-old will be attending a DVUSD school for kindergarten next year. I’m highly involved in my children's education and work to help other parents participate. For almost two years, I’ve been the admin of a Facebook group dedicated to the parents and guardians of DVUSD students, providing our nearly 5,000 members with district updates, helping them understand new policies, recapping board meetings to keep them informed, and fostering discussion that helps guide our community through the challenges of parenting."

Paul Carver: "My name is Paul Carver. I am the 4th generation of my family to live and work in the Valley of the Sun. My family has taught both elementary and secondary education in the Valley since the 1940s. As a graduate of Deer Valley High School, I have personally seen the greatness this District has to offer. My involvement in VICA and sports such as Football and Wrestling at DVHS taught me building block elements of leadership and teamwork. Having been raised in the example of service before self, I served in the United States Marine Corps where I continued to develop Honor, Integrity, and Discipline. As a Father, I was active as a Youth leader in my Church and a Little League Coach. I also received an MBA from the University of Phoenix."

Stephanie Simacek: "My name is Stephanie Simacek. I am a Deer Valley Unified School District parent of two, one who attends Union Park School and one who attends Barry Goldwater High School. I am also a former DVUSD teacher, volunteer, and current DVUSD substitute running for the Deer Valley Unified School District governing board. My family and I have lived in Maricopa County for almost 9 years. I am driven by a passion for public education. I believe public education is what holds our communities together, it is the great bridge that connects all of us to one common goal, our children, our future."

Tony Bouie: "Tony is president/CEO of an aerospace manufacturing company. He has advanced degrees from the University of Arizona, (MA), WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University (MBA), and the University of Akron (MS). He has been involved in service to others for decades by serving as an executive director in Arizona state government, charter school board president, leukemia and lymphoma society board member, elected National Football League Former Players Board member, UA Black Alumni Association Board County Black Alumni, and small group leader in his church. He played football and baseball at the University of Arizona. He was a consensus first-team all-American, first-team All PAC-10 football player, and was inducted into the hall of fame in 2000. He played in the National Football League with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He coaches little league baseball and flag football in north Phoenix."

2020 election results

Do you believe in the 2020 election results?

Tony Bouie declined to answer this question.

Craig Beckman: "I do. I form opinions and beliefs based on verifiable evidence and facts. Elections are highly regulated and operate with a huge amount of oversight. I believe in a healthy amount of doubt and scrutiny, but all of the verifiable evidence has pointed to a fair and secure election."

Paul Carver: "If you are asking if I believe in the accuracy of the 2020 election results, the answer is no. There are too many irregularities across the Country for the certification to have taken place. There are processes by which these concerns can be remedied and while facts have proven that many states have done less than their level best to maintain voter roll integrity and protect the purity of the right to vote nothing has been done by those in elected and appointed positions of authority to prove the results. In a day and age where the population grows less trusting of our own government would it not be in the Country and the election processes' best interest to be transparent and prove out the results no matter which way they may go?"

Stephanie Simacek: "I do believe in the 2020 election results."

Main ideas

Based on the limitations and powers of a school board member, what’s your platform?  

Craig Beckman: "When elected, I’ll use my position as a governing board member to help improve the relationships between all stakeholder groups through communication. Our students, parents, teachers, and community members deserve a high level of communication regarding policies that will impact them, how their tax dollars are being spent, what issues need to be addressed, and what accomplishments we’re celebrating. With my background and experience in marketing and communications, I’ll work to identify new communication channels, improve communications clarity, and standardize communications processes and expectations.

"I will continue to fight for the rights of our students, regardless of their religion, race, socioeconomic status, gender, and any other protected class. Our district is very diverse, making it of the utmost importance that we represent the needs and values of our students. We need to ensure that all students in the district have equal access to opportunities and the resources they need for success.

"I believe in preparing our students for life, and the state-mandated curriculum only puts a small dent in that mission. So, in addition to the constant refinement of our current curriculum, I will advocate for financial literacy training, comprehensive technology programs, teaching communication skills, global studies, critical thinking skills, life skills, and much more. I want to empower teachers with the curriculum they need to give our students a path to success right out of high school.

"Around the state and country, special education programs have been suffering from a lack of resources and staff. Although we have one of the best programs in the valley, DVUSD is not immune to these challenges. I believe we have a moral obligation as a district, community, and society to provide the resources and educators to help these students succeed. I will advocate for increased pay and support for our special education staff and work on revising our district's IEP/504 processes, making it easier for our students to get the support they need.

"Parental involvement is very important — studies have shown that it’s key to the success of students. I will work to communicate with parents and guardians, opportunities for them to be involved in all levels of their children's education. Whether it be helping with homework, joining a PTSA/PTSO group, reviewing curriculum adoptions, or having a voice in the district decision-making process, I want to provide opportunities for these stakeholders to be involved in a healthy way."

Paul Carver: "While there are seemingly countless issues to address, I believe the greatest good can come from (1) protecting the Parental Bill of Rights: ensuring that the parent has the primary say in the care and education of their children. We are not a ‘nanny state’. The education system's responsibility is to educate the children, not raise the children. (2) Budget and Curriculum Transparency; the State of Arizona spends over half its annual budget on education and while the Legislature continues to increase K-12 funding these funds are not making it (dollar for dollar) to the classroom and the Teachers. (3) Curriculum continues to evolve at a breakneck speed with little to no regard for the opinions of the community and the parents. It is the School Board's responsibility to be the liaison from the Community to the Administration to address concerns by either correcting the Administration's course or through educating the community on the need for the enacted processes and curriculum."

Stephanie Simacek: "Being a member of the school board should not be about politics, it should be about doing what is best for public education which includes meeting the needs of all students and supporting our families, teachers and staff. Success can only be accomplished by someone who has the desire to work closely and effectively with everyone. Someone who believes we must not take for granted the future of our communities.

"I am running because there are both immediate and long-term issues that need to be addressed and most of them go hand-in-hand. They include but are not limited to reducing class sizes, teacher retention, livable wages, strong support for special education and gifted programs, parent communication and campus improvement plans to make our schools safe for all students and staff. I am running so I can advocate for all of it."

Tony Bouie: "I will work within the statutory boundaries of the position to help the Superintendent create scholastic results that meet and/or exceed the expectations of students, parents, teachers and other stakeholders."

What do you believe to be the biggest issue impacting K-12 students in Arizona? 

Craig Beckman: "Hands down, the biggest issue impacting our K-12 schools is the shortage of qualified educators and staff. We need to ensure that DVUSD utilizes the funding we have to hire and retain qualified educators. I will advocate for DVUSD to find ways to increase wages, improve benefits, and foster an environment that helps us in our mission of retaining and attracting great staff."

Paul Carver: "The most concerning issue for our children in our schools today is the overall underperformance. Math and Reading proficiency scores are hovering slightly under 60%. The concept of social promotion has us to a point where our children are poorly suited to compete in the World Market upon graduation from High School. We must identify the challenges some students have and help them to overcome those challenges so they can enjoy success. This is not accomplished by simply passing the child on when they are unable to perform at grade level in basic reading, writing and arithmetic. We must instill in our children the desire to succeed and provide them tools to do so."

Stephanie Simacek: "There are many education-related issues that I am concerned about. On top of my list is advocating for smaller class sizes and teacher retention. Currently, our kindergarten classes need 27 plus one in order to qualify for another teacher. That's one teacher for 28 students. It ranges by grade, for example, fourth grade needs 33 to get a second classroom added. It has been said that high school and middle school numbers range between 28 and 29 students. I've seen firsthand that that's simply not true. There's definitely a high student-to-teacher ratio in the district with no teacher assistants. I believe that not only do our students do better academically in smaller learning environments, but our teachers thrive as well. Teachers actually get to teach and they get to focus on students. They get to learn their learning styles. They get to build a relationship with their students which in turn helps lead to higher teacher retention. Teachers that are more happy and doing what they want to do, which is to teach, are more likely to stay instead of getting burned out. I believe we need to also increase our teacher pay as well as provide lower cost benefits. Teachers can't be spending half of their paycheck to cover their health insurance. They just simply don't get paid enough to do so. We need to provide them with a livable wage. I believe by doing all of this, we are showing respect for our teachers and for their families. This helps retain teachers and it helps our students and our families in the district."

Tony Bouie: "The challenges resulting from teacher staffing have a negative impact on students in the system. Teacher staffing, pay, scholastic grading, and indoctrination-oriented curriculum are key areas of concern."

Diversity, equity and inclusion issues

How will you navigate the challenges regarding national rhetoric spilling into local schools related to critical race theory, social-emotional learning, LGBTQ inclusion, and equity issues? 

Craig Beckman: "The rhetoric takes our focus away from the real issues our students, parents, and staff face. We have staffing issues, behavioral concerns, academic policy improvements, and a lack of parental involvement to address. We're wasting every minute we spend on issues that aren’t affecting our students. Critical Race Theory doesn’t exist in our district, and if it was presented as a curriculum, it would be voted down.

"That being said, I believe that we should be offering the best curriculum available to our students. That includes history from a wide variety of perspectives, social-emotional learning programs that benefit our students and staff's mental health and wellness, and learning about and celebrating the differences in what makes each of us unique. We cannot prepare our students for the real world by ignoring that each of us has unique qualities and beliefs that make us who we are.

"I believe that each student has the right to equal education and treatment no matter who they are, what they believe, or where they come from. I will fight for every student’s right to exist and be who they are without harassment or bullying."

Paul Carver: "National Rhetoric is exactly correct, and the schools are not the battlefield for these ideological wars. There are protections and policies in place that have been in place for many years that protect all children and encourage the equal and fair treatment of them. Schools should not be pawns for social experimentation whether regarding race, gender or religion. Children should attend school to learn the ABC’s and 123’s, not receive their daily dose of right or left leaning moral principles. Morality and the like are a topic for parents to take up. Educators have enough on their plate trying to help children learn at a pace that will allow them to grow without having to deal with the political ‘flavor’ of the day."

Stephanie Simacek: "I'll talk first about the legislative attempts to ban certain types of books. I believe that our children must have access to a variety of books for which they can learn from different perspectives. A great way for teachers to teach lessons and lead class discussion is through novel studies. I also support a parent's choice in regards to their child's reading, but I don't believe this should be dictated by our legislation. If a parent chooses to remove their child from a particular book study that they feel uncomfortable about, that is their choice, however, that should not be taken away from the other students' learning experiences.

"I want to touch on Critical Race Theory (CRT) because it is a big discussion right now. I think that there is a little bit of confusion. The acronym gets thrown around a lot, however not in the correct way. It is often used as a way of thinking that teachers or administration are trying to teach CRT in our schools, which is simply not true. CRT is a collegiate-level course. It is not something that belongs in K-12 and is not being taught in Deer Valley either. There is a difference between teaching history and teaching CRT and CRT is a collegiate-level course.

"With regards to teaching history, as the saying goes: those who do not learn from history and those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. I want to address two things. One, I do not support the rewriting of history. Saying that something did not happen or did not exist, doesn't remove it from history. Second, changing the name of something that happened in order to make it appealing to others is changing history. We can't change what happened in the past, but we can learn from the past and that's how we grow. We have to have that for our students.

"I want to also add that we can't be naive and think that kids won't bring up topics that might be viewed as inappropriate. That's just life. That's how kids are. Currently teachers don't have a responsibility to bring up those topics, but if they are approached by a student and they do arise, an educator needs to be able to foster a discussion that's appropriate for the age level. For example, what might be discussed in high school is not appropriate for a first grader or second grader. Without weighing in, on their personal beliefs and then Title IX protects most of these types of discussions. So, in an effort to argue against it, it could actually result in lawsuits for our district which would then end up costing us millions of dollars. We need to be respectful of that as well. Similar to books, I believe if a parent does not want their child to participate in a particular lesson or discussion or curriculum they might feel is controversial or against their family's values, then they have the right to remove their child from that.

"With regards to discrimination against our LGBTQ community of students, I truly believe that every child deserves the right to equal access to public education no matter their race, their ethnic background, their religion, their gender, their socioeconomic status or citizen status. I will not tolerate discrimination against our LGBTQ community. This topic also falls under Title IX and the 1964 Civil Rights Act and discrimination based on gender and sexuality has been ruled on by the Supreme Court of the United States."

Tony Bouie: "National concerns should not affect local governance. All curricula should be transparent to parents, aligned with district policies and age appropriate. Equality of access should be the focus and not equity of outcome."

Public education funding

How do you think the state should support public education? Do you believe in expanding school vouchers? 

Craig Beckman: "Our state needs to support our public education system by funding it. We’ve been at the bottom for per-student investment and teacher pay for as long as anyone can remember. We cannot continue to blame our teachers and schools for being understaffed and lacking resources when we don’t fund them.

"Our state needs to support our public education system by rejecting legislation that puts more work on our already-stressed educator workforce. We cannot continue to add duties and responsibilities to our educators and staff without compensating or supporting them for the additional efforts. Teachers become such because they have a passion for education and teaching our next generation. It’s not for the money, and it’s not for the fame. We need to be introducing legislation that helps our teachers succeed, not drive them away.

"Arizona voters have made it very clear that they didn’t want the ESA programs expanded universally, and HB2853 does exactly that. Private and charter schools will now have the ability to receive taxpayer dollars taken away from Public Schools with much less accountability. When a school can violate equal rights, ignore Title IX protections, and exclude students based on their special needs, they shouldn’t be taking away from public programs that are required to meet those standards and provide those services. For these reasons, I do not support the expansion of vouchers."

Paul Carver: "It is incumbent upon the Legislature, according to the Arizona State Constitution, to provide education at as nearly zero a cost as possible. Likewise, the Board and Administration are required to be proper stewards of the public monies to meet the educational needs of the students. Vouchers are a form of payment directed to assist those children who receive services through institutions such as the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. As I am sure no one would argue the necessity for specialized care for children falling under this classification, I imagine you are asking more specifically about the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA). The need for the ESA Program or ‘School Choice’ arose through parental demand to address the increasing failure of some public schools to provide a safe environment for our children and to learn proven principles. Parents must do what is necessary to provide for their children, and to attempt to hold the child and parent hostage by not allowing them to go to the school of their choice is unacceptable. Children are only children for a fraction of their life and the parent is charged with the safety and education of that child. If we want to consider ESA a bad thing, then we should analyze why the parents and children leave and address those issues. For the most part the exodus from public schools boils down to the loss of parental rights and lack of safety for the child. It is not Anti-School to support ESA but rather it is Pro-Freedom."

Stephanie Simacek: "I am an advocate for public education. I always have been. The ESA voucher expansion bill that recently passed could have been used for funding public education. In 2018 Arizona voters voted against the expansion of vouchers through a proposition and yet this bill was later pushed through the legislation. This was completely disrespectful to the voters and what people had voted against. The people spoke through their vote yet our state completely disregarded those voices. Vouchers already divert about $350 million from our public schools every year. So, to expand another billion dollars on vouchers is just taking money away from our public education system. Private schools that receive vouchers, don't allow us as taxpayers to see where those dollars are being used. Our public schools have to prove what and how they spend taxpayer dollars. Public schools allow every child to attend as they should. They have to show standardized testing performance, constant student and teacher improvement, school improvement plans, planning groups in order to keep our funding or to ask for more funding.

"There is no financial or academic accountability for private schools that receive vouchers. As a state, Arizona already spends the least amount per child in the entire nation. We had $5.3 billion sitting on the table for public education and instead legislators put it towards voucher expansion — this is just a slap in the face for public education. It is not the time to divert funding from desperately needed programs that we need in our public schools. Lawmakers need to focus on making investments in our public education, especially special education for the 96 percent of special education students who attend our public schools. We must continue to fight voucher expansion and focus on properly funding our public schools."  

Tony Bouie: "School voucher expansion is a legislative concern and not the school board. I will work with the administration, parents and teachers to provide the best public education possible, regardless of competition in the educational landscape."

Professional shortages

How do you plan to address teacher, education professionals and school nurse shortages? 

Craig Beckman: "This really comes down to the budget at the state level. However, I believe that Deer Valley Unified School District needs to do everything we can to maximize our budget to address these issues. But it’s not just about pay. Teachers and staff deserve far more than we can currently pay them, but they need the support of our administrators and appreciation of our community just as much as they need a bigger paycheck. I believe that we can help improve the relationship between our staff and the community through communication, transparency, and parental involvement."

Paul Carver: "As with the reason for parents withdrawing children from schools the same reasons can be applied to why we are so shorthanded regarding Educators and Staff. As previously mentioned, our Educators are busy enough trying to serve all children equally and get them the education they need to succeed in the World. And as if that isn’t enough on their plates Administrations are continually adding nuances to the classroom. With a continually changing job title and still being compensated toward the lower end of the ranking in the 50 states, (#42) it is no wonder why there is a mass exodus of Teachers from our schools. We are allowing for unacceptable workplace practices to exist that create too much stress, too much ambiguity and little compensation."

Stephanie Simacek: "Our teachers and staff are what make this district one of the best in Arizona and we have a responsibility as a community to come together and support our professionals. As I previously mentioned we need to continue to increase pay as well as provide lower-cost benefits. We need to provide a livable wage so our professionals are not working multiple jobs. That being said, we need more state support — the school district can only do so much, therefore working with state legislators to support public education is extremely important."

Tony Bouie: "A deep dive of school funding is appropriate, possibly through a study session(s). Accepting out-of-state certifications is a potential option as well as revisiting teacher-pay so it is in line with similar-sized districts."

Capital projects

Several schools in the Valley need long-term repairs and updates. What is your plan to fund renovations? 

Craig Beckman: "We’re very lucky to have schools that are well taken care of in DVUSD. That’s not to say that everything is 100% perfect, but our facilities team does a great job of keeping our campuses in great condition. If an issue required additional funding for repair or renovations, I would advocate using every resource available to ensure that our students can thrive in a safe and conducive learning environment."

Paul Carver: "School Districts as well as many levels of government could do better to manage the taxpayer dollars they are given to address such issues. In the case of infrastructure repairs there is a process that exists that allows schools to apply for funding from the State that does not need to be repaid. This process is already completely funded, and a District only needs to apply to be eligible for the funds. This is the best mechanism by which schools can maintain proper facilities."

Stephanie Simacek: "DVUSD actually does a very good job taking care of our schools. Our community has been wonderful in supporting bonds that allow us to keep our campuses in great shape and even provide expansions when necessary. By no means am I saying our district is perfect in this area. There will always be changes that are necessary to keep our schools safe for students and staff and I support it 100%. I will always advocate for campus improvements and community support so that we can make sure our staff and students can flourish in their learning environments."

Tony Bouie: "Planning for long-term CAPEX is important and should be planned now. There may be federal funding available for building repairs and upgrades. These options should be considered prior to considering the taxpayers to fund CAPEX projects, especially in a time of significant inflation."

Additional information

Anything you would like to add? 

Craig Beckman: "Whether you’re a parent or not, I encourage everyone to research their school board candidates. These elected positions will have an impact on our communities for years to come — they affect community growth, home values, and will make decisions that concern our community’s youth.

"Education is no place for politics, religion, or personal agenda. I am running to better serve our kids, parents, staff, and community. I will continue to advocate for students and families, work to provide support for our educators and staff, and lay the groundwork so that students of the future can benefit from what we’ve built together."

Paul Carver: "The contention and animosity that currently resides between so many School Boards and the Community cannot be allowed to continue. It is taking away from all the good work that Administrations, Educators and Students are accomplishing. We are all here for the children and if you do not have the children’s best interest at heart, if you are contributing to this bitterness and division then you do not belong in the process. Transparency and Accountability are sorely missing and there is no time to wait to hope it clears up. Every day that goes by with all this chaos is another day that we have failed our children."

Stephanie Simacek: "Please click on the links below to find out more about Stephanie Simacek and her candidacy for a seat on the Deer Valley Unified School District Governing Board.



"Campaign Donations:"

Tony Bouie: "Let's get 'Back to Basics' in the classroom."

Fowler Elementary School District

Four people are running for two four-year seats on the Fowler Elementary School District governing board.

Candidates include Leezah Sun, Lisa Perez, Marvene Lobato and incumbent Francisca Montoya.

Perez did not submit her answers by the time of publishing.


Can you introduce yourself please? How long have you lived in Maricopa County, what do you do for a living, and any additional information about yourself you think voters would like to know about you. 

Francisca Montoya: "My name is Francisca Montoya and I have lived in Maricopa County for the past 59 years. I am employed as Director of Community Development & Special Projects with a national Community Development Financial Institution located in Phoenix. I have lived in the Fowler Elementary School District for the past 22 years."

Leezah Sun: "I am State House Elect Leezah Sun. I’ve lived in Maricopa County for 17 years. I am a stay-at-home mother, Founder of Strength in Unity, and a committed community activist. I registered to vote for the very first time in 2018 and ran for public office in 2019 for the State House (previously LD 19). "

Marvene Lobato: "My name is Dr. Marvene Lobato. I have lived in the Fowler Elementary School District for 17 years. I have served as a public educator for 40 years in Arizona and Colorado. My experience in public education includes the following positions: Elementary Teacher, Elementary Principal, Director of Elementary Education, Business Manager, Executive Director for Business Services, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services and Superintendent. I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Northern Colorado in Elementary Education. My Master of Arts degree is in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. I received my Doctorate of Education degree from Argosy University-Phoenix, in Higher Education Teaching and Learning.

"I am a strong advocate for students to receive optimal learning experiences that will enhance their interest in exploring and learning. I believe that every student should be provided with opportunities that highlight their areas of strength and provide resources to address their areas of challenge. I have been the voice for students and families at the local and state level. I continue to serve on a Maricopa County Foster Care Review Board and serve as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).

"I live by the following quotes:

"'Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way.' — George Evans "'Never look down on anybody, unless you are helping them up.' — Rev. Jesse Jackson."

2020 election results

Do you believe in the 2020 election results?

Francisca Montoya: "I believe the results of the 2020 election results and that Joe Biden won."

Leezah Sun: "Yes."

Marvene Lobato: "Yes, I believe the results of the 2020 election have been validated."

Main ideas

Based on the limitations and powers of a school board member, what’s your platform?  

Francisca Montoya: "Two of the major issues in my platform are to implement strategies to address the learning loss of the pandemic and close the achievement gap, and to provide much-needed support to our teachers and staff."

Leezah Sun: "My platform is to increase the public school budget and to educate the community about the dangers of voucher expansion and further privatization of school funding. I believe there are many ways we can reduce the school-to-prison pipeline, expand funds for teachers, students, and staff, and make important changes to improve Arizona for the better."

Marvene Lobato: "As a Governing Board Member, I will strive to oversee the financial and instructional departments of the school district. Sound finance practices are imperative to ensure teachers and students have what they need in the classroom. I will advocate for increased state funding and develop strategies to increase student enrollment. Continuing to work toward closing the achievement gap by addressing student learning loss is important. I will work toward funding professional development opportunities that align with the needs of employee groups. I will prioritize consistent forms of communication with parents and the community."

What do you believe to be the biggest issue impacting K-12 students in Arizona? 

Francisca Montoya: "I believe the biggest issue impacting K-12 students in Arizona is the state legislature's unwillingness to prioritize public education and provide the funding necessary for our students to succeed."

Leezah Sun: "I believe Arizona has been experiencing a crisis of public education funding for quite some time, and it’s ultimately students, working families, and quality teachers who get the short end of the stick. A lot of discourse on public schools tends to revolve around the misinformation surrounding so-called 'CRT' or various other issues, which is ultimately a distraction; and only further turns people towards expanding voucher and charter school programs, lining the pockets of private industry."

Marvene Lobato: "The on-set of the pandemic caused chaos for many school districts nationwide. School districts scrambled to provide computers for each student and a learning management system for instruction. Many public educators were not prepared to teach students remotely. Families faced the dilemma of technology and internet accessibility for their children to attend school online. Students had the most burden placed on them when the pandemic interfered with their learning. Students were isolated with limited assistance from an adult as they attended class online. The one-on-one interaction students had with their teacher in the past was sometimes nonexistent. Everyone did their best, but in many cases student achievement growth was stifled.

"The biggest issue impacting K-12 students in Arizona is addressing the learning that did not take place during the pandemic. Educators need to identify the support needed to identify the needs of each student and initiate reasonable achievement plans by grade levels and grade bands. Student achievement has declined and is visible in classrooms today. Educators value partnerships with parents and will embrace the opportunity to work alongside them to assist students in making up missed learning.

"The impact the pandemic has had on education will be felt for quite a while."

Diversity, equity and inclusion issues

How will you navigate the challenges regarding national rhetoric spilling into local schools related to critical race theory, social-emotional learning, LGBTQ inclusion, and equity issues? 

Francisca Montoya: "Given the student population we serve, equity has been at the forefront of our decision-making process. We strive to implement policy using an equity lens in teaching, staffing, programs, and school operations."

Leezah Sun: "I think that a lot of these issues are a distraction to disparage public schools and their curriculums. I am certainly concerned about racial and economic equity, especially as it relates to public school funding. I believe there is a lot of misinformation about CRT, which, if you dig into it, is really only something people would be taught in higher education and not K-12 classrooms. I think it’s important for students to learn about American History holistically, and that includes learning about some unsavory parts of our history, such as slavery or the history of racism in America. Of course, I also support LGBTQ students and their inclusion in any aspect of a school environment."

Marvene Lobato: "All students have the right to a free public education. Students are protected by federal, state and local laws against discrimination in education. Students and educators deserve to attend and work in schools free from biases and any divisive issues. All students and educators should feel included and treated fairly. School districts are responsible for meeting the needs of its students. Fowler Elementary School District (FESD) has observant educators who are accessible and conscientious. They react quickly and appropriately to social issues that surface on campuses. If the time comes to add any social issues to the curriculum, then curriculum adoption policies should be followed. Parents should be involved and informed of any recommended curriculum changes. FESD educators and parents have worked well together in the past because they are all invested in student success."

Public education funding

How do you think the state should support public education? Do you believe in expanding school vouchers? 

Francisca Montoya: "For years the state has passed legislation requiring changes in education without provided funding. Stop unfunded mandates. I do not believe in school vouchers."

Leezah Sun: "I believe we need to restore funding back to public schools. Arizona continually ranks low in academic performance because we are not investing in our public schools, students, teachers, and working families. I do not believe in expanding school vouchers — I think they’re part of the problem. I would like corporate politicians and private interests to stay out of our state’s education funding."

Marvene Lobato: "Arizona continually ranks near the bottom of states for per pupil spending. School districts struggle every year because their budgets are dictated by the outcomes of each legislative session. Education has not been a priority during legislative sessions. Providing adequate funding to educate students should be one of the most important items discussed and agreed upon during legislative sessions. The legislature fails to invest appropriately in the state’s future. However, legislation impacting education is passed year after year with minimal to no funding. School districts scramble to find funding somewhere for new mandates. The state legislature passed a budget in June that included more than $600 million to new, permanent funding for K-12 education. The aggregate expenditure limit must be lifted or school districts across the state will not be able to spend approximately $1.3 billion that has already been allocated. Governor Ducey needs to call for a special session of the state legislature to lift the limit. Support for public education could start with the legislature lifting the aggregate expenditure limit. The state needs to provide appropriate funding for education or at a minimum start funding mandates that are passed during legislative sessions.

"School vouchers should not be expanded. Stricter oversight is needed to ensure compliance with school voucher statute requirements."

Professional shortages

How do you plan to address teacher, education professionals and school nurse shortages? 

Francisca Montoya: "In the last year, our district has had to recruit teachers from the Philippines and Mexico to meet the teacher shortages. For years we’ve had a partnership with the University of Wisconsin Lacrosse, they send their education majors to do their student teaching in our district, and some return to teaching upon graduation.  Our staff also travel out of state to recruit new teachers."

Leezah Sun: "Again, we need to expand funding, take a look at the budget, and reallocate where applicable. Even when you look at national comparisons, you can see we don’t compensate our teachers, administrators, or staff appropriately. Charter schools are also for-profit businesses, which ultimately absorb state education funding and diminish public staff and teacher pay."

Marvene Lobato: "Fowler Elementary School District (FESD) is fortunate to have established a partnership with Cartwright Elementary School District (CESD) and Ottawa University Arizona (OUAZ). In August 2021 the school districts collaborated with OUAZ and created “Ottawa Grow Our Own” teaching program. After months of meetings and planning employees of both school districts who were interested in the teaching profession were able to enroll and commence with classes in March 2022. Instructional assistants, clerical staff and custodians are currently students in the cohort. Students are offered courses in the school districts to alleviate traveling and online learning. OUAZ is dedicated to supporting the cohort and offering individual assistance. Students will be graduating at various times due to their previous college credits.

"FESD has been partners with International Alliance Group (IAG) for a few years. IAG has worked diligently to secure great teachers from other countries. The district currently has teachers from the Philippines, Costa Rica and Mexico. These teachers have assimilated well and are committed to their students and colleagues.

"Continuing to research partnerships to address employee shortages is vital."

Capital projects

Several schools in the Valley need long-term repairs and updates. What is your plan to fund renovations? 

Francisca Montoya: "Because of the lack of infrastructure support from the state, our school district has had to seek electorate support for school bonds to fund major repairs and renovations of an older building."

Leezah Sun: "We need to expand funding from the state budget and allocate the necessary resources. We have to work to educate people on these issues, as well as bring more awareness to all of the ways in which education has been neglected. We can take a look at prior propositions which would expand funding, and create new legislation which would make special provisions for infrastructure."

Marvene Lobato: "Due to a lack of sufficient capital funding by the state, the school district has relied on the community to pass bond elections to ensure capital improvements can be made. Thanks to a caring community, the district has been able to address any building repairs, carpet and laminate replacement through the sale of bonds."

Additional information

Anything you would like to add? 

Leezah Sun: "I want to emphasize that private companies have no place in our school education budgets. A lot of our marginalized communities are left out to dry in school-to-prison pipelines. Especially in Westside Phoenix and South Phoenix, there are high concentrations of charter schools for the rich, but no budget for public education. We need more school counselors and mental health services instead of SROs. Our communities are still segregated racially and economically, and this is very much pronounced in the public education system. It’s time to improve education for everyone in this state, pay our teachers, invest in our students and resources, and stop giving handouts to private industry."

Marvene Lobato: "When I moved to Phoenix 17 years ago, I made the decision to purchase a home in the Fowler Elementary School District. My reason was simple. It was important to me to pay property taxes in the same district where I was employed. It was also important for me to be vested in the community. I desired to know my neighbors and their children, our students. I have enjoyed living in our community. I would appreciate your vote on Tuesday, November 8th."

Laveen Elementary School District

Four people are running for two open four-year seats on the Laveen Elementary School District governing board.

Candidates include Linda Abegg, Simir Rand and incumbents Fern Ward and Jill Barragan.

Ryan Senters will be appointed to one two-year seat.

Barragan did not submit her answers by the time of publishing. Senters did not respond to The Republic's attempts to reach him.


Can you introduce yourself please? How long have you lived in Maricopa County, what do you do for a living, and any additional information about yourself you think voters would like to know about you. 

Fern Ward: "I’m Fern Ward. I am an 'almost' native. I’ve lived in Maricopa County for 61 years and in Laveen for 40. I’m retired from the corporate world but continue as I always have, to volunteer in and support my community. I’ve been married to Richard for 43 years and we have two children and five grandchildren."

Linda Abegg: "I am a 15 year resident of Laveen. I serve the community as: the community advocate that led successful efforts to get 3 new City parks in our area, Vice Chair of the Laveen Village Planning Committee, member of the Laveen district's self insurance Trust Board, weekly classroom volunteer and frequent PTA board member, church teacher and youth leader. I believe strongly in contributing to the community. My degree and first career were in elementary school teaching. For the last 13 years I have been working from home while raising my 3 sons (teaching preschool and working for a local behavioral health transportation company)."

Simir Rand: "My name is Simir Rand. I have been a Maricopa County resident since 1993. I am a school counselor. I moved to Laveen in 2012 and active in the Laveen community in 2013; my involvement includes secretary of the Laveen Community Council and member on the Arizona Hospital community board – Dignity Health – Laveen and Mesa."

2020 election results

Do you believe in the 2020 election results?

Fern Ward: "Absolutely YES."

Linda Abegg: "Yes."

Simir Rand: "I believe that the 2020 election results were valid. President Biden won 81,283,361 votes versus former President Trump 74,222,960. Voter fraud was not a part of the findings. Six states were disputed and there were no substantial evidence showing inappropriateness according to the Associated Press."

Main ideas

Based on the limitations and powers of a school board member, what’s your platform?  

Fern Ward: "I believe that children should have equitable experiences (i.e. participation in extracurricular activities regardless of ability to pay), that teachers are professionals who deserve the income and prestige that their profession deserves, that public schools are the nucleus of a successful society, that teacher to student ratio must be maintained to a reasonable and logical level, that school buildings are safe and secure, that we maintain the best teachers and staff, and I commit to doing my best to keep our schools and communities physically and mentally healthy."

Linda Abegg: "I am committed to being a school board member who researches the issues, thinks critically, invites a variety of voices to the table, and considers all points of view so that the diverse needs of our children can be met. I will not make decisions lightly nor based on political rhetoric. I bring to the table the perspective of a Laveen mom, teacher, and involved neighbor. Our children, community, and teachers will be my priority."

Simir Rand: "My platform is to support the needs of students while collaborating with the Laveen community."

What do you believe to be the biggest issue impacting K-12 students in Arizona? 

Fern Ward: "Mental health. Children spent the past 3 years being taught to ‘wash your hands’ and ‘stay 6 feet away’, and ‘wear a mask or you could kill grandma’. Humans crave closeness, friendships and feeling safe. Children can’t learn if they are not having their emotional needs met."

Linda Abegg: "While each community has its own issues, however, one seemingly universal trend is not having the qualified teachers and staff needed to run all of our programs. No matter what programs are approved and planned, without qualified teachers and support staff, we fall short."

Simir Rand: "Arizona’s lifestyle ranking is overall low. For example, health care 21; education 46; economy 7; opportunity 40. Funding is the source of our failing system. Arizona spends approximately $8888 per student. Only half of that amount is spent on instruction. Prop 208 could potentially address the state's funding issue as it will continue to cause AZ to tax higher income earners to increase funding for education."

Diversity, equity and inclusion issues

How will you navigate the challenges regarding national rhetoric spilling into local schools related to critical race theory, social-emotional learning, LGBTQ inclusion, and equity issues? 

Fern Ward: "By standing on the truth. Our teachers are professionals, social-emotional learning is a good thing, teachers and staff must be representative of the community they serve including teachers who are LGBTQ+, racially diverse, disabled, etc., utilizing every opportunity to break barriers through knowledge and relationships."

Linda Abegg: "Each of these is a complex issue and I am firmly committed to the nonpartisan nature of this school board position. Party rhetoric will not be a part of my decision making. I will take the time to study the details of each issue including research supporting different points of view. I will also invite all stakeholders, including parents, to share their input as my role is to represent the interests of my constituents."

Simir Rand: "CRT is a cross-disciplinary examination by social and civil rights scholars and activists to explore how laws, social and political movements and media shapes social conceptions of race and ethnicity. As it relates to education, it is a system that recognizes that racism is not isolated to bias and prejudice. Some school districts are creating framework called diversity equality initiative to address these specific equities."

Public education funding

How do you think the state should support public education? Do you believe in expanding school vouchers? 

Fern Ward: "As an endorsed candidate of Save Our Schools, my platform is clear. The state is obligated to fund public education per Article 11 Section 1 of the Arizona Constitution. We are currently 49th in per pupil funding. Our teachers are doing more with less every year. The State’s support has been a dismal failure. We need sustainable funding for education that meets the needs of our students; funding at a level that supports achievement, safe learning environments, and high-quality wellness for every student."

"No. Arizona already has robust school choice. Sending public taxpayer dollars to unregulated, unaccountable private schools at the expense of local public schools is a dereliction of duty."

Linda Abegg: "Arizona needs to remove/amend the state spending cap so that the approved budget dollars for schools can be spent. Everyone benefits when our society provides a good education. Arizona should provide competitive teacher and support staff compensation, safe facilities, and the programs necessary to meet the diverse needs of our children. I believe in families being able to choose what is best for their children and would support legislation that supports those choices provided it includes sufficient public school funding."

Simir Rand: "I believe funding increase with itemized ledgers would help support public education. Bring educators to the table to collaborate and strategize. There are perspectives with the idea of expanding school vouchers. Examining the intent of expanding is critical."

Professional shortages

How do you plan to address teacher, education professionals and school nurse shortages? 

Fern Ward: "Laveen is fortunate to have brilliant, dynamic, and caring school leadership. Our teachers are our most precious asset, and we try to treat them accordingly. Our pay scale is attractive enough to have avoided severe shortages. We are fortunate to have one of the highest teacher retention rates in the state. We partner with renowned and accredited universities to get their best and brightest graduates." 

Linda Abegg: "This nationwide problem is a significant struggle. Even so, last year Laveen retained 80% of its teachers. As a Governing Board member I would promote maintaining and expanding policies that create a positive work environment for our staff and competitive compensation so that we can retain and recruit the best teachers and support staff for our district."

Simir Rand: "My suggestion to help address the school nurse shortage is collaborate with a nurse’s pool like the National Black Association. Build a partnership with graduating seniors and provide an employment opportunity. Teacher assistants at the many universities here in the city would be a great start to offer emergency certifications to combat the teacher shortage."

Capital projects

Several schools in the Valley need long-term repairs and updates. What is your plan to fund renovations? 

Fern Ward: "Laveen has an ongoing renovation plan that is funded and current. Arizona’s School Facilities Board is a working partner in funding our upcoming schools."

Linda Abegg: "Laveen is fortunate to have updated schools and a community that consistently votes in favor of district bond funds. One of our challenges in Laveen is securing land for the new buildings needed during this time of explosive growth. In my role as Vice Chair of the Laveen Village Planning Committee, I already work with District and City staff/officials as well as developers to advocate for and secure the land we need."

Simir Rand: "School bonds will cover construction projects for schools. As a board member, educating the community about the needs of the school and encouraging a yes for to pass the bonds is a big resource to fund renovations."

Additional information

Anything you would like to add? 

Fern Ward: "It’s been an honor to be a member of the Laveen School Board for the past four years and I look forward to continued service."

Linda Abegg: "Your concerns are my concerns. My kids go to school with your kids; I live down the street from their school; I've taught in their classrooms. I have 6 years of involvement working for responsible development in Laveen, including schools, and have SUCCESSFULLY led efforts to get 3 new parks added in the area. If you want a school board member with a vested interest in our children's education, who will research and listen to a variety of perspectives, and who is dedicated to serving the community, you can confidently vote for me for the Laveen Elementary School District Governing Board.

"Learn more about/contact me at, on Facebook at Linda for Laveen, or at"

Simir Rand: "Funding is one of the biggest issues that impact schools followed by teacher retention which is directly related to salaries. Pay schedules for counselors and social workers are a huge discrepancy in some districts. Social emotional support is one of the domains in the Arizona School Counseling Association curriculum, it is a part of a  counselor’s job, yet there is no stipend or pay, whereas social workers receive additional funds for social emotional support. There are other dodgy examples between administrators pay schedules. Full transparency and fairness in these areas can impact schools in a positive way."

Madison Elementary School District

Three people are running for two four-year seats on the Madison Elementary School District governing board.

Candidates include Christine Thompson, Jon Robinson and incumbent Mitra Khazai.

Khazai did not submit her answers by the time of publishing.


Can you introduce yourself please? How long have you lived in Maricopa County, what do you do for a living, and any additional information about yourself you think voters would like to know about you? 

Christine Thompson: "My name is Christine Thompson. With the exception of college and graduate school, I have lived in Maricopa County since childhood. I have lived in Phoenix since 2001 and in the Madison School District since January 2011. I have two children attending a Madison school. I'm the proud product of Arizona's public schools, having attended K-12 in Mesa Public Schools and earned my BA and JD from the University of Arizona. I am an executive consultant with over 25 years of experience as a leader in the nonprofit and government sectors. I served as President & CEO of a statewide education advocacy nonprofit and as Executive Director of the State Board of Education. I also served as the chief lobbyist for the Arizona Board of Regents and the State Bar of Arizona. For over 2 decades, I have championed investments in Arizona’s education systems as critical for the state’s future success, and I have been a vocal leader for policies that support every student, every step of the way."

Jon Robinson: "I grew up near Bethany Home and 5th Avenue after moving here from Pennsylvania in 1975. My father was an actuary and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. I am a product of the  Madison School District, and spent my K-8 years at Madison Park, Simis and Meadows. I later attended Brophy College Prep for high school (class of 1988). After graduation, I moved to Tucson where I attended the University of Arizona and obtained my BS in Mathematics. I also attended Arizona State University for my MS in Information Management. With the exception of my time in Tucson, I’ve only lived in the Madison District. I built my career in Information Technology and am employed as a technology and business strategy consultant, helping companies achieve business value through technology solutions.

"I am also the proud father of a Madison 3rd grader. It’s been a wonderful experience being part of our school’s incredible community. Over these last few years, I’ve watched my child make new friends, create memorable experiences, and learn how to be part of a team with Madison sports. My wife and I have also made some great new friends in other parents we have met along the way. Recently, we welcomed a new family member: Stacey, a kitten who I found and rescued while out knocking on doors gathering signatures in June."

2020 election results

Do you believe in the 2020 election results?

Christine Thompson: "Yes."

Jon Robinson: "Yes. I believe the 2020 election was fair and the results were accurate."

Main ideas

Based on the limitations and powers of a school board member, what’s your platform?  

Christine Thompson: "I'm committed to reinforcing and further developing the excellent programs that both support our diverse learners and contribute to our community’s strong property values. I am running for the Madison School Board because I care about the community where I have lived and worked for many years. I want to leverage my years of experience building coalitions and advancing education with communities, boards, and policymakers in support of our students and our schools. If elected, I will engage with students, parents, teachers & staff, and community members to better understand their hopes and concerns about our schools, and use that input to improve Madison. I look forward to ensuring every student who chooses Madison has a world-class education every step of the way."

Jon Robinson: "If elected to Madison School Board, I see my role as one of service: to my community, our teachers, my fellow parents and, most importantly, our kids.

"I am committed to supporting our teachers, administrators and support staff to the best of my ability. Many teachers are struggling with the increased demands placed on them; some are even leaving the profession because of this. It’s no secret this is a big problem in our country as teacher shortages have reached their highest levels ever.

"This summer, school districts across the state reported teacher shortages in the thousands, mostly affecting grades K-6. This has led to larger class sizes, as well as teachers and staff being pulled from other positions to temporarily fill open slots. Even substitute teachers are in short supply. It’s not just teachers, but after-school programs are also struggling to fill positions. These programs are critical for parents that need after-school care for their kids. Some schools have had to limit enrollment due to staffing shortages, leaving parents scrambling to find another form of child care.

"Also at the top of my list is school safety: I want to ensure our children are able to learn in a safe and secure environment — this world is a wildly different place from when I was a Madison kid. After what happened in Uvalde, it was hard not to think about 'what if.' This means continuing to have conversations with administrators, teachers and experts about what we can do to keep our children safe; it means analyzing and reanalyzing what we are doing now and how we can improve safety protocols at our schools.

"Something else that I am very interested in is social and emotional learning. While learning the fundamentals — reading, writing, math — is important, children are struggling emotionally, especially after COVID-19. We have the opportunity to help teach our kids how to manage their feelings so they can tackle whatever life might throw their way. Staff need the tools in order to support kids who are struggling with behaviors that distract or interfere with either the learning process, or the safety and well-being of other children at our schools.

"Lastly, I want our kids to have the skills to succeed in ‘real life’. I was recently talking to an educator about a class taught at Madison Meadows that focuses on budgeting. Skills like this go a long way once these kids are out of school and in the workforce. I would like to look at the possibility of making more of these types of classes available to our students.

"We have a lot of work to do, and I will do everything I can to move my district in the right direction, while navigating the many obstacles placed in front of us, as well as look for sustainable solutions."

What do you believe to be the biggest issue impacting K-12 students in Arizona? 

Christine Thompson: "Recruitment and retention of educators because an excellent teacher is the best indicator of a student's success in the classroom. We need to allow teachers to focus on teaching, support them professionally to hone their craft and deliver an excellent education to students, and pay them wages & benefits that are competitive with careers that require commensurate education and responsibility."

Jon Robinson: "Right now, I think a big issue is the Arizona Legislature, itself. While I deeply respect this body and those who serve in the legislature, it concerns me that certain lawmakers have villainized teachers and public education. I think referring to teachers as 'educational terrorists' as one state senator did earlier this year is not productive. Public education desperately requires bipartisan support and solutions. I’m sure many of us have heard the expression ‘If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem’.

"We need our lawmakers to come to the table with a collective goal of funding our schools and giving public education what it needs to succeed. As a parent, it’s hard to watch laws being enacted that will ultimately hurt public school children and their ability to have a robust education. Why is it acceptable to be at the bottom when it comes to funding for public schools? Why is it acceptable that teachers and other staff are leaving the profession with no bench of trained educators willing to take their place. I love my state, but why are we OK being at the bottom when it comes to education? Real problems demand real solutions."

Diversity, equity and inclusion issues

How will you navigate the challenges regarding national rhetoric spilling into local schools related to critical race theory, social-emotional learning, LGBTQ inclusion, and equity issues? 

Christine Thompson: "Schools should be a place where all students are safe — and where all students feel safe. Our schools help students learn how to interact with different types of people, respectfully debate and find solutions between groups who might at first appear to have nothing in common, and lay the groundwork to become lifelong learners. We need the entire community — administrators, educators, students, parents, and the broader community — to work together to make that happen. I have a proven track record of leading constructive dialogues with diverse communities that found common ground and advanced meaningful change. I'll ensure Madison continues to foster an environment of transparency and encourage engagement with stakeholders on specific content — which is key when dealing with issues that invoke passionate responses from the community."

Jon Robinson: "I think it’s unfortunate that these issues have become highly politicized. Partisan agendas have no place on a school board.

"When it comes to critical race theory, I think it’s important to note that it is not taught in the Madison District. That said, we have students who come from diverse backgrounds and experiences and that should be celebrated. It’s important to me that Madison remains a place that teaches and exemplifies tolerance and acceptance. I will support methods that help our kids to navigate their emotions, and have empathy for those around them who might be struggling. I am committed to supporting diversity, equity and inclusion in all of our schools so our children can learn in an environment that’s free from bullying regardless of their race, sexual orientation or gender identity. I want our children to be well-informed and armed with the knowledge and life skills they need to become productive members of our society."

Public education funding

How do you think the state should support public education? Do you believe in expanding school vouchers? 

Christine Thompson: "I support public school choice within the framework of public district and public charter schools. I believe more work needs to be done to ensure that every student has access to a high-quality public education, regardless of their background, income, or zip code. I do not support universal voucher expansion."

Jon Robinson: "I believe the state needs to provide more than just 'adequate' funding to public education. If we are serious about improving public schools then we have to invest in our schools. Investing in our schools leads to more staff (teachers, aides, counselors/social workers, etc.), smaller class sizes, and increased access to tools and technology, all of which greatly support the education process. If our plan and hope is for our children to receive the best education possible, then we have to walk the walk — we must invest in public education. If we do, our entire state will reap the rewards of a well-educated society. Remember, Arizona is continually at or near the bottom in teacher salaries and per-student funding, yet our state keeps trying to take more away. The math doesn’t add up.

"No. I believe in the original use and plan for vouchers to help children with disabilities and their families to be able to find the right place that meets the needs of those children. I do not believe in universal voucher expansion that allows any parents to take money from public schools to be used toward private and/or for-profit, schools. Parents already have the option of school choice. Public school funding should not be used to offset the cost of private schools. This is yet another attempt by our state leaders to defund public education. We should be looking for ways to put more funds into public education, not continue to take from it.

"The other issue I have with vouchers is the lack of accountability. Recently, an article was released by The Republic detailing the almost 6,500 people that have applied for vouchers after the program opened in August. It was reported that 75% of those that applied had no record of having a child that attends a public school. This is a prime example of what is wrong with the universal vouchers that were pushed in order to help people get out of failing public schools. The vast majority of people that will receive these dollars are already attending private schools. This universal program will do nothing but harm by continuing to pull money from public education which is already suffering from lack of adequate funding."

Professional shortages

How do you plan to address teacher, education professionals and school nurse shortages? 

Christine Thompson: "We need to find creative ways to attract, support, and retain talent. The state needs to fund schools in a manner that will allow salaries & benefits to match private sector opportunities, and to staff up our schools to relieve teachers of the non-teaching work they are tasked with regularly."

Jon Robinson: "This is a very important issue that seems to be getting worse over time. Because of lack of funding, teachers have been asked to do more and more each year. We are seeing first year teachers leaving the profession after one year, teachers are taking an early retirement rather than continuing on, and many other critical positions around schools are going unfilled.

"My district recently approved a pay increase for all school positions, and while this is a step in the right direction, there is a long way to go. We need more dollars in order to bring in more staff to start to alleviate the load we are placing on educators and staff. We cannot continue to burn them out. Funding (or the lack of it) is just one issue: We are seeing teaching positions that normally are easy to fill go unfilled based on teachers being fearful of parent backlash. Social Studies is one such example, as politicized issues like critical race theory have put this class and its curriculum under the microscope. I understand some parents are concerned about what is being taught in the classroom and I encourage them to volunteer in the classroom, reach out to the teacher, and talk to their kids.

"We’re not just losing our teachers. Districts across the country are experiencing shortages of staff across the board. Everything from school aides, to after school program workers, to key positions like librarians and nurses go left unfilled. We need to ensure our schools are safe, competitive with pay, and supportive of staff in order to attract the people we need.

"If elected, I will work with my fellow board members to address these issues and come up with solutions, while continuing to provide a top-notch education and ensuring fiscal responsibility."

Capital projects

Several schools in the Valley need long-term repairs and updates. What is your plan to fund renovations? 

Christine Thompson: "In the Madison District, we have passed bonds that have kept our facilities up to date. We do need to ensure that we continue to have adequate financial reserves to address any immediate unexpected needs."

Jon Robinson: "In my own district, I would want to first understand the outstanding issues we face — which schools are in need of repairs, which are due for updates, and what has been done so far to prioritize those needs? We should start by focusing on those issues that are a direct threat to the safety or overall well-being of our children.

"The State of Arizona is constitutionally bound to maintain our public schools. Unfortunately, the programs in place to support this have been defunded over the years or so process-ridden that it can take years for repairs to be finished. If we’re unable to get the funding from the State to complete the necessary work, we can ask our district community to approve a bond to fund these projects. We’ve been lucky for a while now in the Madison District as all of our asks on bonds or overrides have passed. This mechanism is suited to serve districts in more affluent parts of our state where taxpayers can afford it. Unfortunately, this leaves districts in less affluent areas in a much worse situation.

"We need to push the Arizona Legislature to release more funding and loosen the restrictions on getting needed repairs done in a timely manner. We need to fight to get our State back to doing their part that is not only needed, but a constitutional requirement."

Murphy Elementary School District

Three people are running for two four-year seats on the Murphy Elementary School District governing board.

Candidates include Jennifer Ayala, Rebecca Coffman and incumbent Guadalupe Gonzalez.

Gonzalez did not submit her answers by the time of publishing, Ayala did not respond to The Republic's attempts tor reach her. Coffman declined to participate in the article.

Osborn Elementary School District

Five people are running for two four-year seats on the Osborn Elementary School District governing board.

Candidates include Eric Thompson, John Cahal, Leanne Greenberg, Violeta Ramos and incumbent Juan Carlos Flamand.

Cahal and Ramos did not submit their answers by the time of publishing.


Can you introduce yourself please? How long have you lived in Maricopa County, what do you do for a living, and any additional information about yourself you think voters would like to know about you? 

Eric Thompson: "I have a first-grader in one of the Osborn School District's dual-language programs and a 3-year-old who will be in the district soon. I am the Chief Financial Officer for the Tempe Elementary School District so I understand school finance issues. I have lived in the Osborn district for the past eight years and served on the Osborn School District Education Foundation board for the past four years. I am currently the treasurer of the campaign to renew the maintenance and operations override for Osborn. I previously served as treasurer for the Carnation Association of Neighbors in central Phoenix."

Juan Carlos Flamand: "I have lived in Osborn district since 2006 and am proud to currently serve as the President of the Osborn Governing Board. I am a lawyer with experience in criminal defense but now practice as an immigration attorney. I am married to Phoenix artist Kristin Wesley and am a strong supporter of the arts. We have five children, three we adopted and two biological children. Our older kid, Margaret is now an adult we fostered and adopted when she was a teenager. The younger kids are currently enrolled in Osborn schools."

Leanne Greenberg: "My name is Leanne Greenberg and I am a first-generation Arab-American, mom, educator, and local activist. I currently work as a Behavior Intervention Specialist in the Phoenix Elementary School District. My previous roles in education have been as a special education teacher, instructional coach, and union organizer with the Arizona Education Association. This is my 9th year working in public education. I served as the President of the Phoenix Elementary Classroom Teachers Association for two years and was also a member of the Maricopa County Superintendent Teacher Advisory Team under Maricopa County Superintendent Steve Watson. I believe that all students deserve access to a high-quality public education. My experience as an educator gives me an inside perspective on the needs of our schools. If elected to the Osborn ESD Governing Board, I plan to elevate the voices of our amazing staff members at all levels, increase the pay of educators, and ensure that our schools are inclusive, safe places to learn and grow. I have a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Special Education from Michigan State University and a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Cincinnati. I am passionate about public education and ensuring that every student is prepared to succeed in school and in life."

2020 election results

Do you believe in the 2020 election results?

Eric Thompson: "Yes. It is unfortunate that we have to continue addressing the lies the election deniers are spreading. It is damaging to democracy."

Juan Carlos Flamand: "Yes."

Leanne Greenberg: "Yes."

Main ideas

Based on the limitations and powers of a school board member, what’s your platform?  

Eric Thompson: "I want to make sure that teachers get the resources they need to provide the best education possible to our kids. As a school district CFO, I understand that districts don't have a lot of control over the funding they receive so they have to make sure they are using every dollar wisely. Having the experience as a school district CFO, I see the whole picture of the district and understand the impact that decisions have district-wide.

"I will advocate for more school funding. Arizona public schools have received too little funding for too long. Whether from the Legislature, school overrides or bonds, I will push for more funding to support Osborn's schools and students.

"I will push to expand affordable preschool. We need to offer more preschool opportunities, especially for low-income families in central Phoenix. I will push to make preschool available and affordable for all children.

"Most school districts don't offer parental leave. I will push to change that so teachers and staff who are new parents don't have to choose between taking the time they need with their families and getting a paycheck.

"I want to support and promote the benefits of dual-language learning and showcase Osborn’s outstanding Spanish and English programs.

"We need to trust science and health experts when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health issues and work to ensure that students are learning in a safe environment.

"We must provide equitable access that meets the needs of all Osborn students and families and supports them in the pursuit of academic and social development.

"We need to direct resources into social and emotional learning because students of all ages are struggling with mental health and social-emotional issues. We must provide necessary resources for them and the teachers and staff who support them."

Juan Carlos Flamand: "As a Board Member and current President I have focused on five priorities: 1) retention through pay increases for ALL staff (too often the unsung cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and other non-teaching critical employees are excluded from the conversation) and improving working conditions; 2) meeting our students’ social-emotional needs in our classrooms and creating environments for all kids to learn and thrive; 3) implementing science & fact based policies to protect the Osborn community; 4) implementing policies using an equity-lens which led to improved student outcomes and reduced disciplinary issues that disproportionately impacted African-American and Latinx students; 5) building community trust, inclusion and accountability by making our meetings more accessible via online meetings and ensuring Board documents are publicly available online. If honored to serve again I will continue these priorities."

Leanne Greenberg: "I want to elevate the voices of all educators in our schools, including our teachers, bus drivers, instructional assistants, school psychologists, etc. When all educators are part of the decision making, we can make better, more educated decisions that will positively have an impact on our students. I want to create community schools that provide resources for our families and are a place of learning for not just kids, but parents, too. As a special education teacher, I know the value of inclusion, so I want to work to ensure that all of our students with special needs have a high-quality teacher, opportunities for inclusion, and access to any services that they may need to gain the skills that they need to lead fulfilling lives."

What do you believe to be the biggest issue impacting K-12 students in Arizona? 

Eric Thompson: "Arizona students do not have enough qualified teachers in the classroom. That is not because we don't have people who want to teach. It is because we do not pay our teachers enough to stay in the profession. We need to increase teacher pay to keep good teachers in the classroom. It is a hard profession but such an important one."

Juan Carlos Flamand: "At a school level it is staffing the schools. We struggle every year to fill positions and it seems like every year public schools keep getting tasked with more responsibilities and requirements. We need highly qualified employees working with our kids and it is challenging to attract talent when the State devalues public education. At a macro level the biggest issue is the wholesale dismantling of the public education system by the Legislature which seems to view education as a commodity that should be privatized."

Leanne Greenberg: "There are so many issues, but I think the number one issue in Arizona is the lack of funding. Without adequate funding, we can't recruit and retain high-quality educators, we can't provide up-to-date curriculum, make building repairs, provide enrichment activities, and more. Fully funding education would put Arizona ahead of other states and would allow us the resources to provide what our students need. Without adequate funding, it will be difficult to address the wide variety of issues that our public schools are currently facing."

Diversity, equity and inclusion issues

How will you navigate the challenges regarding national rhetoric spilling into local schools related to critical race theory, social-emotional learning, LGBTQ inclusion, and equity issues? 

Eric Thompson: "We need to move beyond inflammatory language and think about what's best for our students: supporting them regardless of their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity and more. Social-emotional learning is so important right now because a lot of students are struggling in those areas because of the pandemic. We need to give them the supports that they need to learn because if they are struggling with the social-emotional aspects of their life, they are not going to do their best in school."

Juan Carlos Flamand: "I have been navigating this challenge for years now as a current Board Member and think this topic is often misconstrued to score political points. Osborn is fortunate to have a diverse group of students, faculty, and families in a supportive community working to provide every kid with the resources and education they deserve. This means meeting them where they are. For me it is a very real and practical issue because I have had to think about how the rubber meets the road in the classroom. Social emotional learning, equity, inclusion is not about indoctrination, it is about understanding where kids are coming from and how to best reach them to support them so they can be at their best in the classroom."

Leanne Greenberg: "I want every student to feel safe and acknowledged in our schools. As educators, we should create classrooms where kids feel comfortable being themselves and sharing who their true selves are. Kids should learn about these issues and should be taught to make their own decisions on issues. Our job as educators is to teach the next generation of kids how to think for themselves and give them the information that they need to make the world a better place. Knowledge is power and we should not limit our students from learning about these issues."

Public education funding

How do you think the state should support public education? Do you believe in expanding school vouchers? 

Eric Thompson: "I think the state should support public education by actually supporting public education and not giving money to private schools. I don't think tax dollars should be used to pay for private school tuition and am opposed to expanding school vouchers."

Juan Carlos Flamand: "I do not believe in expanding the school voucher program.  Public education is an essential aspect of a free society and the State should treat it as its most important function and fund it accordingly."

Leanne Greenberg: "The state has a surplus of funds and that money needs to go to public schools. We need to fully fund public education and put in more accountability measures for charter schools and homeschools. I do not believe in the expansion of school vouchers and know that this further drains money from our public schools. A majority of our students attend public schools and there is accountability measures for how that money is spent in our school districts. By diverting our money into private hands, we eliminate any accountability of taxpayer dollars and lessen the opportunities that our public schools can provide by further draining their budgets."

Professional shortages

How do you plan to address teacher, education professionals and school nurse shortages? 

Eric Thompson: "The first thing we have to do is pass the maintenance and operations override on the ballot for Osborn in November. I am the treasurer of the campaign to pass the override and will work hard to get that continuation passed because it is the most important thing we can do to help the district. It is a continuation of an existing override and will not increase taxes. Failing to pass it would mean a reduction in the budget for Osborn, so the hard task of hiring teachers and nurses would become even harder. Teacher pay and benefits are so important, so we have to promote what sets Osborn apart and why education professionals should choose Osborn. Implementing my proposed parental leave program would be a great marketing tool to attract education professionals because other districts don't offer parental leave."

Juan Carlos Flamand: "In my service as a Board Member I serve on the District’s Budget Committee and ultimately have oversight over the budget we adopt for the district. During my tenure the district conducted a compensation survey to bring district pay in line with neighboring districts. I have worked to implement pay increase for staff every year of my tenure and am proud to have championed the effort that led to every employee in the district receiving a pay raise this year. I also oversaw the approval of $1 million in retention bonuses for staff. For the 22-23 year I worked to starting teacher pay resulting in an average 8.97% increase in salary for those with masters degrees. Lastly, I encourage all Osborn voters to vote yes in the Maintenance & Operations budget override on the ballot in November. This continuation of the current override will not result in a tax increase and preserves the much needed additional funds that cover full-day kinder, arts, PE and the many programs our kids rely on."

Leanne Greenberg: "Increase funding for public education, ensure that those dollars make it into staff paychecks, and create school environments where all educators are respected and valued. When educators are paid well and given respect, we will be able to recruit and retain high-quality educators."

Capital projects

Several schools in the Valley need long-term repairs and updates. What is your plan to fund renovations? 

Eric Thompson: "As a school CFO, I have to deal with funding issues every day. In Arizona, you have three main options: grants from the School Facilities Board, bond funds, and District Additional Assistance/capital override. In Osborn, we are fortunate that voters have approved bonds to help pay for school renovations, so our schools are in better shape than some others. To make sure that our schools stay in the best shape they can be, we need to make sure Osborn applies for all the School Facilities Board grants that we can qualify for. This will help our bond and capital override dollars go further and allow Osborn to spend that capital more on instructional technology that helps learning rather than just building maintenance."

Juan Carlos Flamand: "Before I was on the Board, I chaired the campaign that passed a long needed $50 million bond and a $1.5 Million capital override in 2017. I am proud and thankful that the community approved those two measures by over 70%! That money was invaluable in helping Osborn make long needed repairs and improvements as well as have the technology we needed during COVID. Whether I am on the Board or not, until the State improves school capital funding I will champion bonds and capital overrides. We should not have to call for these special elections but the legislature seems to have given up on funding school infrastructure."

Leanne Greenberg: "I am working to pass overrides to make sure that our schools have additional funding to make necessary repairs. This is one step to work towards fixing up our schools, but we have to push our Legislature to fully fund schools, so that we don't need to pass overrides to do these necessary repairs."

Additional information

Anything you would like to add? 

Eric Thompson: "I think Osborn is a great district, and I want to help it become even better. I have the district-wide financial experience that no other candidate in this race, or perhaps the state, has when it comes to running a district. I understand big-picture school district needs and solutions because I deal with them every day in my job. In addition to my professional experience, I have been involved with the district for years. I serve on the Osborn School District Education Foundation. The foundation organizes the Osborn Teacher of the Year event and helps raise money that goes to programs that help kids in the district. I am the treasurer of the campaign to pass the continuation of the maintenance and operations override for Osborn. I am involved with the foundation and override campaign because I want to help the district. Osborn is where I live and where I'm proud to send my children to school. I want to help make it the best district it can be."

Juan Carlos Flamand: "As a Board member one of the best parts of the role is visiting schools. Although I am a parent and visit campuses on a regular basis, when we do our school tours I get to see staff in action. What I have learned during these tours has changed my perception of what goes on in schools and wish more people saw what I saw. Most of us experienced a classroom environment in action when we were children decades ago. Let me tell you, things have changed ... for the better! I was amazed at the skill and nuance required to teach a class. Teaching children is not about standing in front of a classroom lecturing on a topic and not everyone can do it. I recall one time where a teacher was delivering the lesson to a classroom of third graders. I was in the classroom for about 10 mins. After we left the superintendent started asking me if I had noticed how the teacher had redirected students, moved the class along, reinforced ideas, transitioned from one activity to another, etc. There were so many things that I missed as an untrained observer! I always had respect for educators, but seeing skilled professionals in action doing great things turned me from someone who just believed in public education into a passionate advocate for public education. It is an honor to serve as your Governing Board President and I hope I have earned your trust and approval during my service."

Leanne Greenberg: "I believe that I have a unique skill set that I can bring to the district that will make it a better place for staff and students and that my experience as an educator is invaluable to elevating our educators' voices to be a part of the decision making in the district. I am a product of public schools and I would be honored to receive your vote this November and hope that you will vote for educators for your school board!"

Phoenix Union High School District, Wards 2, 3 and 5

Alan Aversa and Signa Oliver are running for one open four-year term on the Phoenix Union High School District governing board for Ward 2.

Charles Lucking and incumbent Stephanie Parra are running for the Ward 3 seat.

Jennifer Hernandez will be appointed for Ward 5.


Can you introduce yourself please? How long have you lived in Maricopa County, what do you do for a living, and any additional information about yourself you think voters would like to know about you? 

Alan Aversa: "Alan Aversa graduated from the University of Arizona in 2008 with a B.S. in physics and astronomy and minors in math and Italian. His being a teaching assistant for a physics lab class invigorated his interest in teaching. Since then, he has taught physics and computer programming in classrooms and online. He has lived in the South Mountain area since 2015."

Charles Lucking: "My name is Charles Lucking, I'm a candidate for Phoenix Union HSD School Board. I grew up in Phoenix, my wife and I have two kids who will be the 3rd generation in our family to attend Phoenix Union High Schools. Dad, my sister Mary and I all went to Central, Mom went to West, our son and daughter will go to Camelback. I'm an attorney. My wife and I met while serving in the Peace Corps. I have taught in the classroom, I currently volunteer with refugee communities, and I am a lifelong advocate for and supporter of Public Education. The moral compass that I rely upon in thought and action centers around four characteristics that I believe are necessary to be a good servant leader and a good person — these are honesty, integrity, bravery and compassion."

Jennifer Hernandez: "My name is Jennifer Hernandez and I was just appointed to the Phoenix Union Governing Board in Ward 5. I identify as a daughter of immigrant parents, a mother, and a product of public education. My experience in school was a constant struggle to keep up with my grades, and my mental health. I was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age where I struggled to retain information, and my learning process took more time. Unfortunately, many schools labeled me as a “student not worth investing in”. I had to learn how to fight for my education and mental health and find resources and methods that would help me graduate high school. In 2013 my dad’s job became one of many targets of Arpaio’s raids. This caused my family to leave the only home we knew in Phoenix and started a new life in Buckeye, AZ. We struggled to keep food on the table due to the loss of my dad’s job. I started my sophomore year at Buckeye Union High School — a well-funded school where I saw a significant shift in my grades, and mental health. This was due to longer class time, smaller classrooms, quality food options, and an environment that allowed me to feel comfortable in social settings. Because of all of these different components I was able to become a confident student in school. I became pregnant at the age of 16, another identity that carries a lot of stigmas. Due to the lack of body and sex education, I thought I had zero options to keep myself safe. Becoming a young mom shifted the course of my life and also led me to where I am today. I have been organizing youth in PXU schools for the past 6 years. Choosing to run for school board was based on our community's vision for a liberated future. We believe in a world where schools are fully funded, free from criminalization, and have easy access to resources and tools that is possible for our BIPOC, LGTBQ+, working-class, and immigrant families."

Signa Oliver: "My bio: I am a native-born Phoenician. Mother of two children and 7 grandchildren and the youngest of 5 children, 1st person in the family to obtain a graduate degree. I moved back to Maricopa County in 2014.

"Schools Attended: Murphy #3, Phoenix, AZ: 1 – 2nd grades Palmdale Elementary, Phoenix, AZ: 3rd – 5th grades Percy L. Julian, Phoenix, AZ: 6th – 8th grade South Mountain High School, Phoenix, AZ: 9th – 12th graduated (Diploma – 1979) Northern AZ University, Flagstaff, AZ: 2 yrs Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ: 1 yr University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ: (graduated 1990 – Bachelor of Science, Business Administration) Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Houston, TX: (graduated 1994 – Juris Doctorate)

"I am a proven visionary senior executive leader with expertise in executive business management and people operations and culture. Currently the VP, Human Resources and Culture for a US FinTech company.

"A former Phoenix Police dispatcher and Officer (1981 – 1989); US Army JAG Corp Officer."

Stephanie Parra: "My name is Stephanie Parra. I am an Arizona native, born and raised in Yuma, Arizona, and have resided in Maricopa County for over 20 years. I am an educator, not a politician. I have served on the Governing Board for the Phoenix Union High School District, representing Ward 3 for the past seven years. Through the pandemic, I served as Board President, and in the face of all challenges, I elevated the district's commitment to educational equity and excellence for all students.

"I serve as the Executive Director of ALL In Education in my full-time role. ALL In Education's mission is to ensure the communities most impacted by inequities are the ones making decisions for ALL students. Established to close the gap and achieve better representation in the state's education policy-making bodies, ALL In Education works to increase the number of Latino members on education boards that directly impact policy.

"I am a proud first-generation American. As one of the first in my family to attend college, I saw the importance of education and the wonders it can do to develop a child's life and future. I hold two bachelor's degrees in Justice Studies and Psychology and a Master's in Higher and Postsecondary Education. My commitment to public education led me to roles at Teach For America, Arizona State University, and the Arizona Education Association. I am passionate about ensuring every student in Arizona receives an excellent education and is prepared to succeed in college, career, and life."

2020 election results

Do you believe in the 2020 election results?

Alan Aversa: "There was fraud, but Vice President Mike Pence certified the Electoral College's results."

Charles Lucking: "Yes I do."

Jennifer Hernandez: "Yes, I do."

Signa Oliver: "Yes."

Stephanie Parra: "Yes, I believe the 2020 election results. I am confident that our state and local election officials conducted a secure election."

Main ideas

Based on the limitations and powers of a school board member, what’s your platform?  

Alan Aversa: "'As a school board member, Aversa will promote STEM programs and ensure taxpayer money is spent efficiently and only on what will improve instructional quality."

Charles Lucking: "Phoenix Union has the capacity to be a world-class High School District, but there are big hurdles that stand in the way. Some of these include inequitable treatment of and support for our students, inadequate resources to support our students with disability, a lack of transportation to school, and a need for a master plan to transition our entire school district to a modern philosophy and system for education. From day one we will push to make sure PXU takes bold steps to create real solutions to these challenges and ensure all of our children are getting the education required to be prepared for life in the 21st century. "

Jennifer Hernandez: "For decades, our schools have been defunded. Az ranks 48th in education. Our teachers are not supported, and our students are not supported. We have criminalized students instead of receiving counseling and conflict resolution. I believe our life circumstances should not determine how our students will get educated and criminalized in schools."

Signa Oliver: "My platform is to be the educational voice and advocate for Ward 2 community. I will advocate for the best possible education for all students, no matter what their circumstances, who deserve the best quality education they can receive. I am a product of PXU High School District (South Mountain High School) and received a quality education and was able to go on to realize my career goals and now I am here to do for the students, educators and community what someone did for me many years ago. Almost half of my career has been in public service at the federal, state and local levels. I fully understand what is necessary to attract the best educators and retain those that have a desire to open and teach our students how to think and learn. Notice that I said 'how' not 'what,' which is the primary responsibility of an effective educational experience.

"Other platform issues: Plans to increase graduation rates; Instituting and championing diversity, equity and inclusive school programs for students, faculty and staff; and restorative justice issues on campuses."

Stephanie Parra: "a. Having served the Phoenix Union community for nearly eight years, I have been committed to improving student outcomes, increasing access to opportunities for all students and families, and investing in and supporting our dedicated educators at Phoenix Union. The core of my platform is:

"i. Ensuring students, parents, and families in the district have a voice on the school board.

"As an educator, I know that student achievement increases when there is a strong relationship between schools and families. Communication is key. I work daily to elevate the perspective of parents and caregivers in our Phoenix Union community. Listening to the community, and not making assumptions, has been at the core of my work on the board.

"ii. Investing in employees ensures the district continues to attract and retain the most talented educators in the state.

"In 2014, when I was first elected to the board, the minimum wage was $9.32/hour for education support professionals, and the starting teacher salary was $38,828. I am proud to say that in 2022 we approved a $16/hour minimum wage and raised the starting salary for teachers to $52,200. The average base teacher salary is $77,291 not including additional supplemental compensation and benefits. I am so proud of the progress we have made. Our employees are the backbone of our education system. We are investing in their talent and leadership so they can continue to invest in the students and families we serve.

"iii. We are advancing opportunity and justice for all students who attend Phoenix Union schools so they can develop into the future leaders our community needs.

"While I have served on the Phoenix Union board, we have adopted a nondiscrimination policy for all students and employees to ensure that Phoenix Union is a place where everyone feels loved, honored, and respected."

What do you believe to be the biggest issue impacting K-12 students in Arizona? 

Alan Aversa: "The inability or unwillingness to read good books cover-to-cover, which results in apathy for learning, is the biggest issue. We need to foster a love of books in our students."

Charles Lucking: "The biggest issue impacting our K-12 students in Arizona is the lack of funding for our Public Schools. 874,000 Arizona students attend one of our 2,000 district public schools. Compare this to the 237,000 attending one of the 700 charter schools, or 65,000 in private schools. Twenty years ago our public schools were fully funded, and the result and impact of pulling funds from our Public Schools to support charter schools and private schools is that ¾ of our Arizona students, teachers, and the education we provide to our kids suffer. Public Education and our kids who graduate from Public Schools are the future of our state, and ensuring our 27,000 PXU students are going to fully funded schools is the only way to create the bright future that we all want for our kids, and for Arizona."

Jennifer Hernandez: "We are severely underfunding public schools in Arizona. We aren't supporting students who are dealing with abuse and violence at home or school. Parents are disconnected from what's happening in schools and we aren't preparing students to succeed after high school. Right now, undocumented youth have to pay 300% more to go to college than their peers. We need to support prop 308; this prop will give an opportunity for students to pay the same in-state tuition rate for college as everyone else."

Signa Oliver: "Underfunding the public schools by opening up public funds to private schools and other educational entities with no accountability to the students, parents and the communities. I have spoken with parents who were drawn in by the 'school choice' selling point of vouchers who found out that their children were being underserved and once the private institution received the funds, they could find ways to send children back to public school, however, the funds don't follow them."

Stephanie Parra: "a. I am concerned about the impact that the growing teacher and educator shortage will have on our schools. We were already grappling with the teacher shortages before the pandemic. The pressures of the last two years have impacted the recruitment and retention of high-quality educators. A student's best shot at academic success is whether they have access to a high-quality teacher in the classroom. The growing workforce crisis is impacting schools and causing overcrowding in our classrooms. The lack of coverage forces schools to rely heavily on substitutes to fill long-term vacancies. This is a critical issue because it is a highly skilled education workforce that will help address the impacts of unfinished learning on student achievement. We must ensure that schools and systems are cultivating a strong teaching and learning environment for students and educators."

Diversity, equity and inclusion issues

How will you navigate the challenges regarding national rhetoric spilling into local schools related to critical race theory, social-emotional learning, LGBTQ inclusion, and equity issues? 

Alan Aversa: "Rhetoric is a good way of qualifying these ideologies. They deserve no place in our schools, will not prepare our students for the workforce, nor give them the knowledge and skills necessary to be our future leaders, inventors, and entrepreneurs."

Charles Lucking: "My team and I support rebuilding from the ground up the systems that continue to produce inequitable outcomes for our students, because all students deserve to have the support they need for an exceptional educational experience, and that includes fully supporting and protecting our LGBTQIA+ kids. Comprehensive sex education and social-emotional learning is not just appropriate but necessary and a priority for high school students. My team and our community will fight to protect our teachers' ability to teach, and our kids’ right to learn about the world as it actually is, including the painful parts both past and present."

Jennifer Hernandez: "Students should be able to see themselves in our curriculum and have a basic understanding of how to emotionally and socially interact with their communities."

Signa Oliver: "My answer is this: critical race theory is a graduate level study taught in law schools. We don't teach quantum physics to elementary schools and we are not teaching this level of study in undergraduate, high schools, middle schools or elementary schools. This is a manufactured boogeyman for a political culture war talking point."

Stephanie Parra: "a. I have a longstanding record of focusing on expanding access, opportunity, and justice in our education system. I will not allow national rhetoric and political noise to negatively impact our commitment and focus on advancing opportunities for every student attending Phoenix Union. I firmly believe that our greatest strength is the beautiful diversity of our students, families, and staff. Any rhetoric detracting from supporting ALL students does not align with my values. ALL students deserve the freedom to learn and achieve success."

Public education funding

How do you think the state should support public education? Do you believe in expanding school vouchers? 

Alan Aversa: "Parents have inalienable rights over the education of their children, as the Supreme Court case against compulsory public education, Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925), established. Vouchers should not be seen as a threat to public education but as an incentive to improve it."

Charles Lucking: "In 2018 Arizona Voters overwhelmingly rejected universal ESA vouchers, and my wife and I were two of those votes. The vast, vast majority of Arizona kids go to public schools, and these schools, the teachers and staff, and especially the students are suffering because Arizona no longer fully funds public education. This will have lifelong and multigenerational impacts on each individual student, their families, our city and our state, our economy, our sustainability and all of our futures."

Jennifer Hernandez: "No to expanding school vouchers; we need to reinvest in public education."

Signa Oliver: "No, studies show that public schools, properly funded, are better spent for funding a quality education. I am a living example of the value of public school education."

Stephanie Parra: "a. Support for public education should start and end with respect. Respect for students, their families, and the educators who dedicate their lives to those that they serve. If the state truly respected students, families, and educators, they would ensure that every child in every corner of the state had access to a high-quality, appropriately funded public school full of highly-skilled educators.

"b. I believe every family has a right to choose a school that makes sense for them and their family. I also know that many families choose to send their children to neighborhood public schools. The data on vouchers continues to show that the students who need the most additional resources are not accessing school vouchers, making the education system less equitable because of their existence. There is also a significant gap in accountability for private school vouchers. The lack of transparency and reporting in state-funded vouchers erodes the trust of our taxpayers."

Professional shortages

How do you plan to address teacher, education professionals and school nurse shortages? 

Alan Aversa: "Teachers should be paid more, and there should be fewer administrators."

Charles Lucking: "We must and will use our voice as a school board to push our legislators to take real steps to get PXU and ALL of our public schools the funding needed to create the salaries and support to reverse the teacher-exodus that is currently happening in Arizona, and to hire necessary support staff, including school nurses and counselors. We will also work with the State Treasurer’s office and all other governmental or non-governmental offices or officers who are willing to sit down and have an honest conversation about finding alternative sources of funding so that we can start making progress TODAY on solving these shortages."

Jennifer Hernandez: "We need to seek additional funding through federal and state grants and attract educators into our schools. As well as raising the salaries that will support our school staff in this career path."

Signa Oliver: "As a seasoned human resources leader with over 26 years of experience in best practices for attracting talented staff in various industries, I have the ability to help PXU High School District's Governing Board effectively create a staffing plan to attract talented individuals and retain them."

Stephanie Parra: "a. My public record on the Phoenix Union school board demonstrates my commitment to addressing this critical issue. We have continuously improved salary schedules for both certified and classified employee groups. Our most recent investment has positioned Phoenix Union to become a premier destination for education professionals across the state. We have work to do, and I am committed to continuous improvement to address staffing shortages."

Capital projects

Several schools in the Valley need long-term repairs and updates. What is your plan to fund renovations? 

Alan Aversa: "Such renovations should take precedence over buying the latest electronic gadgets."

Charles Lucking: "As with the teacher and staff shortages, funds should be made available by the legislature for necessary repairs and renovations, but until that happens we must and we will work to find alternative sources of funding to make required capital repairs needed at PXU. Additionally, we will work with our feeder grade-school districts to understand how PXU can facilitate these districts getting the resources they need to keep their campuses structurally sound and safe for our K-8 kids."

Jennifer Hernandez: "Again, our schools are underfunded in the state and we need to expand that budget that will allow our students to be in those conversations where they get to make decisions on how they will make their school and education sustainable."

Signa Oliver: "There are federal government aid programs specifically earmarked for school construction and renovation that can be accessed to supplement the state, county and local funding for repairs. Additionally, the State of Arizona has $5.3 billion surplus of funds that can be used to assist in repairing and the modernization of school facilities."

Stephanie Parra: "a. Since my first term on the school board at Phoenix Union, I have been willing to call for voter-approved bond measures to invest in our school buildings and infrastructure. And every time we have called for a local bond election, I have poured my time, resources, and energy into ensuring that voters approve the measure. In real-time, I support the Yes for Phoenix Union campaign to prepare for a bond measure in the coming years. Unfortunately, this is the reality of public education in Arizona. Until a long-term solution is introduced for school funding at a state level, we must do our part locally to ensure that we have the resources needed to maintain and operate our schools."

Additional information

Anything you would like to add?

Alan Aversa: "Campaign website:"

Charles Lucking: "I think in the long-term. It can be easy to lose sight of the long game when so many of the challenges that our Public Schools are facing, such as teacher and staff shortages, require triage measures like the loosening of teacher-certification requirements that happened recently. However, the only way to ensure the sustainability of our state, to do right by today’s and tomorrow’s students and our Arizona families is to plan for the next century by addressing the structural challenges that were handed down to us from former generations, and to think about what modern education should look like and design a plan to bring PXU into modernity. Phoenix Union serves 27,000 of our kids today, and will continue to serve hundreds of thousands of students over my kids’ and their kids’ lifetimes. As your school board member, with the support of my team, my community, and you, we will be changemakers and servant-leaders, and together we will fight tooth-and-nail to ensure our kids’ futures remain Arizona’s highest priority."

Jennifer Hernandez: "We need to end youth criminalization by ending police violence at all levels. For years our students have not been prioritized when making decisions about money and safety. We need to provide more counselors and therapists in our schools and connect parents including non-English speaking parents with more information and resources. And create safer environments for students and teachers."

Signa Oliver: "This is my labor of love. This is my home state, city and community. I owe so much to this community and will work to move toward making sure that the students, educators and community will thrive. I am a consummate problem-solver (think of me as the Olivia Pope member of the PXU high school governing board)."

Stephanie Parra: "I am an educator, not a politician. I did not run for school board as a steppingstone to run for higher office. I ran for school board because I believe that our public schools should be governed by community leaders who genuinely have the best interest of our students and educators at heart. I have been that leader for Phoenix Union, Ward 3, and my commitment to students and families has never wavered. I will continue to be the leader the Phoenix Union community needs to thrive."

Roosevelt Elementary School District

Three people are running for two four-year seats on the Roosevelt Elementary School District governing board.

Candidates include Ashley Hodge, Joseph Dailey and Megan Frankiewicz. Frankiewicz did not submit her answers by the time of publishing.


Can you introduce yourself please? How long have you lived in Maricopa County, what do you do for a living, and any additional information about yourself you think voters would like to know about you. 

Ashley Hodge: "I was born and raised in the South Phoenix community with my parents and two sisters. I am a proud third-generation graduate of the Roosevelt Elementary School District. I have lived in Maricopa County my entire life and as far back as I can remember, I always had a strong passion for serving others and I grew up wanting to make a difference in my community. Home is where the heart is and this is my home. I graduated from Cesar Chavez High School in Phoenix Union High School District where I previously served as a high school Social Worker for the last 3 years. I now serve as a General Manager for a home care organization. I am a sister, daughter, community advocate and public school advocate. I obtained my Bachelor's Degree in Social Work, a Master’s Degree in Social Work, and a Doctoral Degree in Behavioral Health from Arizona State University. I am currently pursuing my second Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California."

Joseph Dailey: "I am a father of three, a South Phoenix resident for more than twenty years, and a Global Engineering Director for a major firm. I grew up in an Italian home, and I understand what family values mean, like many of those in the South Phoenix area, so I will be an advocate for Roosevelt’s parents and their family values. I will focus on academics, working to ensure that students have the education they need to enter a global workforce successfully. I believe the best way to achieve equity is when kids know how to read and write with a strong focus on science, technology, engineering, and math. Children who are taught more about equitable outcomes than being an individual and core educational principles end up unable to compete with those who are taught the basics."

2020 Election results

Do you believe in the 2020 election results?

Ashley Hodge: "Yes, I believe in the 2020 election results."

Joseph Dailey: "Yes, I have no reason to believe otherwise."

Main ideas

Based on the limitations and powers of a school board member, what’s your platform?  

Ashley Hodge: "I am committed to advocating for an educational experience that addresses the whole student inclusive of social-emotional learning, and physical & mental health in today’s academics. I plan to address interrupted teaching and learning due to the pandemic. I also plan to identify opportunities for students to enroll, attend and graduate from their neighborhood public schools. We should reimagine the curriculum to include social-emotional learning and culturally relevant practices. Finally, I plan to create ways to increase staff retention and provide mental health support for staff during their workdays."

Joseph Dailey: "I will focus on learning. Our children deserve the best education we can give them, and they are not receiving that.

"Impose Financial Discipline. We need to reduce financial waste and nepotism while holding administrators accountable for how they choose to spend school resources.

"Improve Special Education. Many who need special help only receive one hour a month with a particular education specialist. Other schools provide up to 5+ hours a week. This is unfair and one of the first things I plan to address.

"Emphasize STEM Curriculum. Our child's education needs to focus on reading, writing, science, technology, engineering, and math to prepare children to compete in a global economy. Education must focus on academic subjects, and, without exception, education should not include personal bias, political opinions, or indoctrination.

"Parent and Family Advocate. Parents know their children's needs and circumstances best, and I will therefore advocate for parents and family rights:

  • "to direct the education of their children

  • "to maintain authority over all decisions that could impact the health and well-being of their children

  • "to preserve the fundamental right of upbringing, education, and care of their children.

  • "to have their voices heard and respected and incorporated into the development of academic curricula.

  • "to 'opt out’ of any or all surveys, data collection, and psychological profiling testing."

"Student Advocate. Our children, the students, learn from examples. As a School Board Member, I will advocate that we respect our children's challenges during their road to adulthood. Children need respect, privacy, and our understanding of their difficulties. I will advocate for your children's rights and needs.

  • "The right not to be bullied.

  • "The right of all boys and girls to have privacy, especially regarding locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms.

  • "The need for school food programs.

  • "The need for social and scholastic programs which build mutual understanding, confidence, relationships, and acceptance."

What do you believe to be the biggest issue impacting K-12 students in Arizona? 

Ashley Hodge: "The biggest issue impacting K-12 students in Arizona is equitable access to school funding. Zip codes should not determine the quality of education that students receive." 

Joseph Dailey: "We MUST stick to the basics to educate our children to read, write, do the math, and do science."

Diversity, equity and inclusion issues

How will you navigate the challenges regarding national rhetoric spilling into local schools related to critical race theory, social-emotional learning, LGBTQ inclusion, and equity issues? 

Ashley Hodge: "I will navigate the challenges by advocating for the best interest of students. Students need to be given the resources they need to be successful and I analyze information as necessary to ensure student voices are heard. I will work with students, teachers, parents and community members to address the issues that are actually impacting our community."

Joseph Dailey: "Diversity and Inclusion bring a world of cultures and people which enrich our lives.

"Inclusion does NOT mean indoctrination. NO teaching of sexuality, and Racist theories that place entire groups into a box and stereotype them. We are all individuals, and we should teach our children to accept everyone for who they are. The parent and the family need to provide that moral direction.

"Equity of outcomes is impossible because we are all individuals. If my child deserves an A, should they get a C because that is the class’s equitable outcome? No. This is what communist countries have tried to impose, and they never succeed. I believe in providing a fair and equal start, but the individual must strive to succeed."

Public education funding

How do you think the state should support public education? Do you believe in expanding school vouchers? 

Ashley Hodge: "Part 1: The state should adequately fund ALL schools. Students’ zip codes should not determine the quality of education they receive.

"Part 2: Do you believe in expanding school vouchers? No, I do not."

Joseph Dailey: "Every parent should have the right to send their child to the best school that supports their needs."

Professional shortages

How do you plan to address teacher, education professionals and school nurse shortages? 

Ashley Hodge: "I plan to address the staff shortage by retaining the current staff members and prioritizing their mental health and wellness. I would also like to partner with teacher colleges to create a pipeline. Advocating for additional funding for classroom support and teachers."

Joseph Dailey: "The first thing is to understand how Roosevelt School District keeps getting more funding than most other schools but yet they cannot afford these critical roles. One must look at the funding and change the priorities to address teacher, education professionals, and school nurse shortages."

Capital projects

Several schools in the Valley need long-term repairs and updates. What is your plan to fund renovations? 

Ashley Hodge: "We have been fortunate enough to be able to renovate several of our buildings/schools and I will continue to advocate for the renovations as needed."

Joseph Dailey: "Again, I will need to understand how Roosevelt School District keeps getting more funding than most other schools, yet they cannot afford these critical repairs. I believe prioritizing the school’s funding can address these repairs and updates."

Additional information

Anything you would like to add? 

Ashley Hodge: "I am running for Roosevelt School District Board because home is where the heart is and this is my home. I know that our community and our students deserve equitable opportunities to be successful. As of Sept 15, 2022, I am the only Roosevelt School Board Candidate that has been endorsed as one of the 2022 Saving Our Schools #PublicSchoolProud Candidates and by the Arizona List- A Committee for Pro-Choice Democratic Women in Arizona."

Joseph Dailey: "I am here not for any reason than I love living in South Phoenix. I believe a community begins with its children, and to raise a child correctly, they must be educated in the basics, and family values need to be left to the parents."

Renata Cló is a reporter on The Arizona Republic's K-12 education team. You can reach her at and follow her on Twitter @renataclo. 

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Phoenix school district voter guide 2022: Q&A with board candidates