Torri Anderson, Leslie Carlyle-Burnett, Veronica Gay, Leon Potter and Tim White are competing for three seats on the Marciopa Unified School District Governing Board Nov. 6.
The volunteer board is tasked with setting objectives for education in the district and members work on the district’s budget, among other things, Anderson said.
The candidates said they all want to increase student enrollment, bringing back students who have left MUSD.
Anderson and Carlyle-Burnett currently sit on the board. White served on the board for eight years. A 2007 recall against him failed, and he lost his 2010 re-election bid.
Potter and Anderson, who serves as vice president of the board, said they are focusing on student and teacher involvement.
Potter, owner of Master Tax Advisors and father of two, said he wants to elevate the perception of MUSD within Maricopa and its surrounding communities.
“I want to focus directly on Maricopa schools and the children already attending schools at the district,” Potter said. “We need to recognize the teachers and the rest of the staff as top-notch educators, and acknowledge that the children are doing really well.”
Potter currently serves on the Maricopa City Council and the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
Anderson, who has been a school board member since 2011 when she was appointed to fill a vacant seat, said community involvement is key to making education better for students.
“I think, ‘How do we make this the best school district for those families who have chosen to attend Maricopa?’” Anderson said. “We want to make sure we let those families who have stayed here know how important they are.”
Anderson’s children attend MUSD schools, and she is a Maricopa High School alum. She and her husband, former mayor Kelly Anderson, have lived in Maricopa since childhood.
Retaining teachers is key to student achievement, Anderson said.
Gay, a three-year Maricopa resident, said she wants to join forces with other districts to improve MUSD schools. She pulled her child out of the public school system after only one semester.
“The curriculum was too simple,” she said. “My first goal would be that the board gets together with some other governing boards in different districts to get some ideas on what makes them successful.”Gay said the district also needs to put a stop to other school buses coming into Maricopa. Under current open-enrollment laws, districts may transport students outside their district, and hundreds of Maricopa students are bussed to Valley schools.
Carlyle-Burnett said she will work to increase parental involvement and decrease the student-teacher ratio in MUSD schools. She was born and raised in the area as a member of the Ak-Chin Indian Community and is a senior community planner for the tribal government. Her two sons attended MUSD schools.
“Kids are our future leaders, so our future depends on making sure the school district is up to par,” Carlyle-Burnett said. “I attribute the success of my two boys to the foundation they received in the Maricopa School District.”
She said the governing board needs to be more responsive and receptive to parents.
White said he wants to improve education by focusing on the younger classes.
“We need to start from the bottom up,” he said. “Through the persistence of our schools to become better and by showing the parents of this community that we have quality schools, we can win back parents.”
White has been a Maricopa resident for 25 years and owns White’s Towing.
The three candidates elected will join Scott Bartle, board president, and Patti Coutre, board secretary.