Juneau School Board candidates Deedie Sorensen, left, and Martin Stepetin, Sr. speak to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. Candidates Bonnie Jensen and Emil Mackey are not at the forum. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau School Board candidates Deedie Sorensen, left, and Martin Stepetin, Sr. speak to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. Candidates Bonnie Jensen and Emil Mackey are not at the forum. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Empire Live: School Board candidates talk costs at Chamber luncheon

Live updates from the event.

Summary

Both candidates emphasized the importance of community involvement. A lot of time was given to early childhood education and its importance in getting children ready by the time they reach kindergarten.

1:05 p.m.

“How can we get the parents back in the picture?” another audience member asks.

“There have always been disengaged parents. Most of the years that I taught I was considered to be a partner in the process,” Sorensen says. “What is really new is we have gotten ourselves, nationally, is this high-stakes testing game.”

That bottom number is the only thing we are focused on, she says.

12:55 p.m.

Audience member asks, ‘What does pre-K mean to you?”

Stepetin says business have trouble finding good people in large part because of child care. “As a community I think it’s time to take pre-K serious.” (sic)

12:50 p.m.

Stepetin has repeatedly brought up the costs of special education in the district. The Juneau School District has more special education students than any other district in Alaska and pays more than any other district per special ed students.

Stepetin says he recognizes the importance of special ed but that the costs need to be examined.

“Biggest portion of the school budget is people,” Sorensen says. “When we are looking at economies we have to look at those things that have the fewest negative impacts on instruction.”

12:40 p.m.

Candidates are asked what their top two priorities would be if elected.

Stepetin says reading and pre-K, Sorensen say greater community input and tackling absenteeism.

“If we were as passionate about reading as we were about the Dunleavy administration our reading scores would’ve been improved already,” Stepetin says.

“I plan to advocate for (community involvement) out loud, if no one is advocating for public involvement it’s not going to happen,” Sorensen says.

12:25 p.m.

Only Martin Stepetin and Deedie Sorensen are present. Emil Mackey had a work obligation and the Chamber did not hear from Bonnie Jensen.

12:15 p.m.

Candidates for the Juneau School District Board of Education are presenting at the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Moose Family Lodge.

Before the event began, some attendees said that they were concerned about early childhood education and special education.


• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.


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