School board candidates say ‘Just say no’ to tax increases, differ on Common Core

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Two newcomers looking to fill the seat of interim school board member Ralph Brooks are on the ballot for Washington County School Board District 1 in this year’s Nov. 8 election.

Richelle Nelson, a retired school teacher and counselor, seeks election to the local school board, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Richelle Nelson, St. George News
Richelle Nelson, a retired school teacher and counselor, seeks election to Washington County School Board District 1 in Utah | Profile photo courtesy of Richelle Nelson, St. George News

Becky Dunn and Richelle Nelson are campaigning for the school board seat that represents Santa Clara, Ivins, Dammeron Valley, Veyo, Gunlock, Central, Pine Valley and Enterprise.

The seat was previously occupied by Barbara Beckstrom who was elected to the board in 2012. She died in March and Ralph Brooks was chosen by the board as interim member. Brooks did not file to retain the seat.

Dunn, an accountant, said her platform is focused on what’s best for the district’s children. That means getting parents involved, she said, which she learned firsthand while participating in the PTA at the local, regional and state level. She earned a degree in accounting from Brigham Young University and is the mother of three children.

Nelson, a retired school teacher and counselor of over 30 years, said she believes students deserve the best education possible. To achieve this ideal, Nelson said she could bring her experience as an educator to help creatively implement solutions through her knowledge of laws regulating education. She holds a master’s degree in psychology and school counseling and has five children who all grew up in the district.

Crunching the tax dollars

Neither candidate said she was excited by the idea of raising taxes. Instead, both candidates said they would prefer to stretch what is already available to the district.

“With the lean education funds we have, it is important to me that we are vigilantly using those funds in the best, most efficient and prudent way possible,” Dunn said. “We need to be conservative with how we spend the precious funds that are available for our children’s education and creatively solve problems in order to better use the funds we have.”

Becky Dunn, an accountant, seeks election to the local school board, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Becky Dunn, St. George News
Becky Dunn, an accountant, seeks election to Washington County School Board District 1 in Utah | Profile photo courtesy of Becky Dunn, St. George News

Nelson’s proposed alternative to raising taxes is to invest in bonds, which she said would only strengthen with the projected economic and population growth within the district.

“My ‘theory’ on raising taxes,” Nelson said, “is that every cut possible must be made before taxes have to be raised.  And those tax increases need to be a last resort.”

Education standards

The adoption of the Common Core State Standards Initiative has been a controversial subject in the nation and in Utah.

Nelson said the situation is further complicated by the lack of power to control or change the standards at the county level once adopted by the state.

“There are some good things about the common core and some really bad things about it,” she said.

Nelson argued that consistent standards are helpful to the increasing number of students coming to the district from out of state who have shared curriculum with their in-state-educated peers. The same can be said for students from Utah who go out of state for college and are competing with their peers when it comes to securing scholarships.

However, Nelson doesn’t believe the Common Core’s testing standards are accurate measures of student success. Other methods of measuring learning should be implemented, she said.

Dunn said she would rather not see the district bound to any national standards at all.

“I believe in local and state control,” she said.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • .... October 11, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    It’s an honest thing to say ” no to raising taxes ” but as time goes on you will have to raise taxes you will have no choice. the best of luck to both candidates but only one can win

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