3 running for 2 seats on GESD Governing Board

By: 
CARY HINES, Assistant editor
Two incumbents and one former board member are running for two open seats on the Glendale Elementary School District Governing Board.
 
Both seats are four-year terms.
 
Brenda Bartels is serving her second term and Sara Smith is in her third. Martin Samaniego has served two past terms on the board, winning seats in a 2008 special election and 2012 general election.
 
Election Day is Nov. 6. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Any qualified voter who is in line to vote by 7 p.m. on Election Day will be allowed to vote. To find your polling location, go to https://recorder.maricopa.gov/pollingplace/ or https://voter.azsos.gov/VoterView/PollingPlaceSearch.do.
 
The Glendale Star recently sent questionnaires to all three candidates running for the Glendale Elementary School District Governing Board. Following are their responses:
 
Name: Brenda Bartels
Age: 51
Occupation: Homemaker/volunteer
Marital status: Married, 23 years
Number of children: Three
 
1. Why are you seeking election to the Glendale Elementary School District Governing Board?
I am seeking re-election to the board so that the work we have done over the past several years has the opportunity to become our norm. We have seen our students grow academically over the last several years in spite of the drastic funding cuts.  We have many bright and talented kids in our district and it is crucial that we set them on a strong foundation that will lead to successes in their futures.
 
2. What do you see as the primary function of a governing board?
The legal primary function is to set district policy and hire the superintendent. I think another critical function is to set the direction and tone for the district. When the board works respectfully together, focusing on what is needed for our students and staff to be successful while maintaining a long range vision, our community wins.
 
3. What are the top three issues facing the Glendale Elementary School District and how do you plan to address them?
I feel that the dramatic funding cuts since 2008 have been devastating. While the district did receive a boost in revenue in this current year, we still fall short in addressing salaries, classroom sizes and capital needs. We have seen many educators leave to other districts or leave education completely. It is important that I understand our reality and continue to advocate for the needs of our students at the state and federal level.
 
4. What kind of relationship should a governing board have with its community?
It needs to be a positive one. Board members need to be aware of the challenges that our families are facing so that we can make decisions that will better support their children. We also need to be working together, setting high expectations for our students.
 
5. If elected, how will you make yourself accessible to your constituents?
I will continue to volunteer my time through community events or by attending student events. I can also be contacted through the traditional avenues of phone and email.
 
6. Do you have any children or grandchildren attending the Glendale Elementary School District?
All three of my children have promoted from Discovery School. My youngest will graduate high school this year. However, as a board member, I have over 11,000 kids and I am proud of every single one of them.
 
 
Name: Martin Samaniego
Age: 74
Occupation: Retired
Marital status: Married to Lilia Gallegos
Number of children: We have nine children.   
 
1. Why are you seeking election to the Glendale Elementary School District Governing Board? 
I am seeking election to make a positive difference for students.
 
2. What do you see as the primary function of a governing board? 
The primary function of the board is to set policy for the district and give direction to the superintendent to carry out policy.
 
3. What are the top three issues facing the Glendale Elementary School District and how do you plan to address them?
The three top issues facing our district are student achievement, teacher and staff salary, and teacher retention. I plan to work with the board, staff and community to improve all these areas.
 
4. What kind of relationship should a governing board have with its community?
The board should have an open transparent relationship with the community. The community must work to give input to the board and the board must have an open-door policy to listen to the community and work together to improve education opportunities for students.
 
5. If elected, how will you make yourself accessible to your constituents?
I will make myself available to our constituents by attending board meetings, parent meetings and give out my personal information for them to contact me at anytime.
 
6. Do you have any children or grandchildren attending the Glendale Elementary School District?
I have had my children and grandchildren attend GESD schools and high schools.
 
 
Name: Sara Smith
Age: 50
Occupation: Homemaker
Marital status: Married
Number of children: Five children and one daughter-in-law
 
1. Why are you seeking election to the Glendale Elementary School District Governing Board? 
No. 1 reason, I care about our children’s success, and this is a way I can volunteer in the community to make our community better. I’m seeking re-election because I’m passionate about ensuring that each child can succeed, and I have taken the time to develop the knowledge and skills to set the direction and success of the district.
 
2. What do you see as the primary function of a governing board? 
The role of the school board is to ensure that school districts are responsive to the values, beliefs and priorities of their communities. A board also provides community leadership as advocates for children. With the increasing demand for educational excellence and fiscal accountability, the responsibilities of school boards are of great impact.
Becoming an effective board member begins with the philosophy that you are there to serve the children of the district by providing the best education possible with the resources that are available. Every decision at the board table should be focused on how this vote will help the district improve educational outcomes for students.
 
3. What are the top three issues facing the Glendale Elementary School District and how do you plan to address them?
School Funding: As a school board member, I do not control the funding that comes to our schools; this is set by the state Legislature. That being said, I will continue to reach out each legislative session to our representatives to tell the story of GESD and request legislation that will benefit our schools. Once funding reaches GESD, I will continue to advocate that the funding is given to students and that they are given the resources to grow as a student while teachers have the resources they need to succeed in their position.
Declining enrollment: Due to demographic changes and declining birth rates, our state is seeing fewer students attending schools. This trend is going to continue for the near future; thus, GESD is losing enrollment. Schools are funded by the current number of students enrolled. This is a challenge because GESD schools are getting less money. I will continue to watch over the budget process to make sure we are financially stable.
Teacher shortage: I will continue to encourage partnerships with local colleges to bring teachers into our schools and advocate for better funding sources.
 
4. What kind of relationship should a governing board have with its community?
The board should be responsive to the community and be active in the community. A governing board has the responsibility to educate the community about the issues affecting the students and teachers in the district.
 
5. If elected, how will you make yourself accessible to your constituents?
I’m available in many different ways. One way I’m accessible is to approach me at school functions, as I’m at many district and school events. Please come to a Governing Board meeting and share your opinions during the public comments portion of the meeting. My email address is available on the GESD website. I volunteer and attend church in our community.

6. Do you have any children or grandchildren attending the Glendale Elementary School District?
My fifth child is attending a GESD school. My other four children have attended all of their K-8 education at GESD schools.

 

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