In the November election there are four candidates vying for three seats on the Deer Valley Unified School District governing board.
The three seats are currently held by Jenny Frank, Ann Ordway and Darcy Tweedy.
According to the Office of the Maricopa School Superintendent, the candidates are: Kim Fisher, Melody Holehan-Kopas, Ann Ordway and Jennie Paperman.
The Glendale Independent will feature each candidate who has chosen to participate in our questionnaires leading up to the election.
Register to vote here.
Get to know Ms. Holehan-Kopas here.
Name: Melody Holehan-Kopas
Education: BA Deaf Education, BA Spanish Education, MA Deaf Education
Career: Teacher of the Deaf, Teacher Librarian
Political experience: None
Years as an Arizona resident: 38 years
Family: Husband (married 33 years), four sons ages 31, 28, 26 and 24
What are the three most important issues facing your district?: Educational equity, Funding, Preparing students to be future ready
How will you address budgetary issues facing the district?: Fiscal responsibility with the limited funds we receive; Seek other sources of revenue, i.e. overrides, bonds, grants, business partnerships; Build relationships with elected officials who make funding decisions
What resources are needed to ensure safe, healthy schools during the pandemic and how will you advocate for those resources?: The federal government, the state government and the district administrators have secured resources and determined requirements for the processes needed to ensure student and staff safety. DVUSD had students on several campuses all summer long. They had the cleaning supplies they needed, and the students and staff were diligent in making sure everyone followed the procedures. Everyone stayed healthy. As we amplify that with more students and staff, we will apply the same safety measures and cleaning protocols, but on a larger scale.
What will you do to ensure schools will not become overcrowded, and how will you try to al-leviate overcrowding at schools already at capacity?: We have schools in the district with declining enrollment, and we have schools that are over-crowded. We can alleviate some of the overcrowding with realigning the boundaries; this process was recently completed. If we find the new boundaries did not take care of the problems, we may need to do it again. Another idea may be to look at our policy regarding open enrollment. We owe the students in the school boundaries an education with adequate student teacher ratios. They should not have to attend classes crowded into closets and offices. It is hard to tell people that a school is closed, but it is the right thing to do.
How will you deal with inequities and other systemic barriers that keep low-income students and students of color from thriving? How will you strive for equity in the school system?: The good news is that DVUSD is data driven. We are in constant evaluate and reevaluate mode to be sure that we get it right. We are diligent in identifying any student who is not having success. We have teams of people who meet for the benefit of individual students to problem solve educational programing to meet their needs. If the problem is a social or economic issue, it is handled the same way; teachers, administrators, and district personnel along with parents work on solutions. DVUSD is a large district with many students. There are times when kids fall through the cracks. We all need to be diligent, the schools, the families and the community.
What ideas do you have for retaining teachers in the district?: To retain teachers, we must have competitive salaries and benefits. We also need to have work environments where teachers feel listened to and valued. When 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years, we have a problem. I believe each new teacher needs a mentor from their campus if possible, someone who is doing the same job and can give them a helping hand through their first few years.