ST. GEORGE – Becky Dunn and Craig Seegmiller appear to be two of the three newly elected members of the Washington County School Board. However, the District 3 race between Terry Hutchinson and Debbra Zockoll is too close to call.
As of Wednesday, Hutchinson was ahead by a slim margin of 160 votes – 51.2 percent to Zockoll’s 48.8 percent, as reported by the Utah election results webpage.
However, paper and provisional ballots are still being counted and election results will not be final until Nov. 22. St. George News will follow up on this race as more votes are counted.
Tallies on the Utah election results webpage will be updated on Nov. 10, 15, 18 and 22, said Mark Thomas, chief deputy and director of elections for the Utah Lt. Governor’s Office.
If Hutchinson maintains his slim lead, it will be an upset over incumbent Debbra Zockoll, the current vice chair of the Washington County School Board who was first elected to the board in 2012.
In District 1, preliminary results as of Wednesday morning show Becky Dunn beating Richelle Nelson, 59.56 percent to 40.44 percent. Dunn had 3,518 votes compared to Nelson’s 2,389.
Dunn said she is pleased and excited about winning the race and grateful for all the support she has gotten from the community.
Dunn is an accountant and participated in PTA on a local, regional and state level.
“For me, budget and funding is a big thing,” Dunn said. “So finances and numbers are really important to me. I want to make sure that we’re using our funds in the best possible way, that we’re being efficient with those funds, and prudent with those funds.”
Transparency is important, Dunn said, as is communicating exactly how school district funds are used. A lot of community members don’t know how district funds are spent, she said.
“A lot of people don’t understand complex financial statements, so we need to just make sure that we’re educating the public,” she said.
Dunn also plans to focus on bridging education gaps – gaps in learning created by different factors that should be caught early to avoid having a child fall behind.
Some children have parents who are involved in their education at home, spend time with them on homework and are able to provide extracurricular activities.
“Other kids don’t have those benefits, they come from a home with two working parents and their life situation may not be great,” she said.
One program that can help is optional extended-day kindergarten; it can help prepare children to be ready to learn to read in first grade, she said.
“If we don’t target those gaps early, then that gap just continues to grow as the kids move along in the education system,” Dunn said.
Preliminary results on Wednesday show four-term school board incumbent Craig Seegmiller beating challenger Rick Nelson by a margin of 65.27 percent to 34.73 percent. Seegmiller garnered 3,473 votes; Nelson had 1,848.
Seegmiller is a math professor at Dixie State University and previously served as president and vice president of the school board. His campaign was based on properly compensating teachers while not burdening taxpayers.
“I pay a lot of attention and put a lot of time and effort into it and I’m really grateful and really appreciative that folks would trust me enough to give me another few years to try and help Washington County,” Seegmiller said.
The challenges that come with growth will continue, he said, adding the board will continue to meet issues as they arise.
The district just received a triple-A bond rating this week, Seegmiller said.
“It speaks really well, I think, of district management, and those of us on the board that care so much about managing the financing,” he said.
Seegmiller is proud of his record of not voting for tax increases, but said each proposal has to be looked at individually.
Not everyone is doing well economically, he said, and taxing entities that say their increase is only a few dollars a month is a “lame excuse,” because it adds up to real money.
“Money is tight and I respect that,” he said.
“It’s taking real people’s real money,” he said. “While schooling is an amazing and incredible and noble cause, that’s still money that belongs to the taxpayers and I’ll do all I can to help keep it there while doing everything we can to have world-class schools. And that’s a careful balance and I think we do that balance really well.”
Seegmiller has serious concerns about the state’s adoption of the Common Core standards and said the number of low-level math classes needed at Dixie State is a direct result.
“And we just elected a president that said he’s going to abolish the Common Core,” Seegmiller said, “so it’s going to be interesting to see what happens with that.”
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