Juneau Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kale, pictured here in November 2020. The school board's decision to prevent the basketball team from going to the Region V state tournament because of a district policy precluded traveling to regions with high levels of coronavirus risk is one of the issues that prompted Kyle Scholl to run as a write-in candidate. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

Write-in candidate seeks school board seat

Board decision on basketball tourney sparks run

When Juneau’s voters start receiving ballots for the Oct. 5 municipal election next week, Kyle Scholl won’t appear as a candidate for the Juneau School District Board of Education. However, he recently joined the field as a certified write-in candidate. And, if the vote totals are close, votes cast for him will be tallied.

In an interview last week, Scholl said he pursued the write-in path because he was still waiting to learn more about this schedule, which includes two jobs and an array of volunteer work with local youth sports leagues, when the initial filing deadline passed.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while now,” he said. “I wasn’t sure I could give my full attention to the board,” he said explaining that news of his work schedule change came after the initial filing deadline.

Scholl said that his unusual road to candidacy is not due to a lack of interest. He said that if he’s not elected this year, he plans to run again next year and may consider a run for the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly, as well.

Local election deadlines loom

On the issues

Scholl said that he’s running for the seat to serve as a voice for students and parents. He cited the board’s decision last March that prevented the Juneau Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé boys basketball team from traveling to the state tournament amid COVID-19 concerns as a galvanizing factor in his decision.

Despite a winning season and clinching the Region V title game, the team could not represent Region V in the state tournament because the school district policy precluded traveling to regions with high levels of coronavirus risk.

The Matanuska-Susitna Valley region, where the tournament was moved from Anchorage, was at a risk level that prevented the Crimson Bears from traveling there. Instead, Ketchikan, which did not have such a policy, represented Region V.

“The majority of parents wanted the basketball team to go,” he said, adding that the board’s decision to sit the tourney out was “a slap in the face” to the players, coaches and families.

“The kids and parents were crushed. They were already struggling with COVID and having to adapt. For the seniors, they took it harder,” he said.

Scholl said the basketball issue is indicative of more significant concerns he has about the school district.

As a graduate of Juneau schools, Scholl said that he senses a different spirit around the school and sports and it’s something he’d like to see change.

“For me, I’m huge on sports from when I was in school and going to JDHS, the sports program was amazing. The support was phenomenal. Now that I’m a youth football coach and I’m going to games, it’s night and day from 20 years ago,” he said.

Scholl said that matters because student-athletes learn about support, discipline and teamwork in after-school and sports programs, which helps keep them away from drugs and crime.

“We need to get to kids sooner,” he said.

Kyle Scholl is a write-in candidate for the Juneau School District Board of Education. (Courtesy photo/Kyle Scholl)

Kyle Scholl is a write-in candidate for the Juneau School District Board of Education. (Courtesy photo/Kyle Scholl)

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Policy positions

Scholl said that he has concerns related to curriculum and requiring students to wear masks at schools. He said he has two young children — one of whom recently started attending public schools after starting at the Valley Baptist Academy, and wants to be more involved in decisions about school.

“I’ve heard there are things being taught and I want to make sure everyone gets a fair education,” he said. “I want to make sure stuff being taught is not one-sided.”

On the students and staff wearing masks, Scholl said he can see both sides of the issue. He suggested exploring a potential middle ground that requires students to wear masks when they are out of their seats but lets them take them down when seated at their desks.

“Let’s accommodate the kids a little more. They can wear masks to their desk and then take if off like at bars and restaurants,” he said, adding that the installation of plexiglass as a barrier could help make the change easier.

All students and staff are currently required to wear masks inside the school but can remove them when outside. In addition, the district requires all unvaccinated students involved in sports or activities to have a weekly COVID-19 test, a process that started last spring —and a practice encouraged by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The school district’s guidelines are consistent with the mitigation strategies in place for the City and Borough of Juneau and reflect the advice of the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Currently, Juneau is experiencing a spike in infections, and many schools in the district have reported cases despite the precautions in place.

Background

Scholl said he has lived in Juneau for 26 years, initially moving to town from California when he was eight years old. He said he’s lived in Spoke, Washington, as well.

He’s a member of the JDHS class of 2002, where gym and history were his favorite subjects.

“I love being active and staying healthy. But, history is a passion,” he said, recounting a teacher who brought the topic to life for him as a student.

He works as a transfer/renewal clerk for the State of Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission. He served as the president and executive director of the Juneau Softball Association—a paid position that he said gave him a skill set that he’d bring to bear on the school board.

“I had to listen to players and board members about their concerns. My job was to compromise and listen,” he said.

Scholl and his wife, Rikki, have two young children, Brayden and Preslee.

He’s a volunteer coach for the Juneau Youth Football League and coaches youth baseball teams. He said Juneau’s sports fields are among his favorite places, along with Sandy Beach. His family enjoys dining at The Island Pub.

About the election

There are three open school board seats. Candidates who will appear on the ballot include Elizabeth Siddon, currently the school board president, and newcomers Wiljordon V. Sangster, Thomas Buzard, Amber Frommherz, Ibn Bailey and Aaron Spratt.

The election will take place on Oct. 5 and will be conducted primarily by mail.

Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

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