Elections 2019: School Board Seat E Dr. Barb Amarok
Nome Nugget: What are your qualifications and why do you want to run for School Board again?
Dr. Amarok: Education, in its many forms, has been important to my family for generations. I have a bachelors, masters and doctoral degree in Education. I worked for Nome Public Schools (NPS) for 20 years as a Classroom Teacher, Native Programs Coordinator, and as the Nome Beltz High School Assistant Principal. I also previously worked with the Kawerak, Inc. Adult Basic Education Program for six years as a Field Coordinator and as the Regional Director; and with the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Northwest Campus (NWC) for six years as the Village Program Coordinator. I have been recently hired as the Director of NWC where, since 2014, I’ve continued to teach ED 420 Alaska Native Education for educators in the Bering Strait region.
Our schools in Nome have over the past several years taken great strides toward effective delivery of formal schooling for the children of Nome, and I would like to continue to actively support the goals of the Nome Board of Education and Superintendent: to provide resources for the development and adoption of curriculum; to support the integration of students’ cultures and communities into the curriculum through implementation of the Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools; and to ensure that all students feel connected to their teachers and other students by improving the school climate.
Nome Nugget: What are the school district’s greatest challenges and how do you propose to address them?
Dr. Amarok: Nome Public Schools has focused on increasing the percentage of students who achieve reading proficiency by third grade. When children read at or above grade level, their journeys through Junior High, Senior High, postsecondary programs and/or career choices can be successful.
The School Board and Superintendent have also strengthened partnerships with local entities to serve the children of Nome through specific support for our teachers and administrators. We are providing time and opportunities for teachers to be better prepared to use the local environment and community resources on a regular basis to link what they are teaching to the everyday lives of the students.
Nome Nugget: What are your budget priorities?
Dr. Amarok: As a citizen and a member of the Nome School Board and the Board of Directors for the Association of Alaska School Boards, I continue to urge the Alaska Legislature to establish a long-term fiscal plan to provide sustained, reliable and adequate funding for Alaska’s schools. Funding for districts should be at a level where teacher and administrator salaries, and health and retirement benefits, are suitable.
Our School Board and Superintendent will continue to target sound management toward financial stability while ensuring that our budget reflects established priorities as outlined in the NPS Strategic Plan: academic success, community partnership, reading proficiency, recruitment and retention of effective staff and an improved school climate.
Nome Nugget: The state budget continues to provide unstable ground for the state’s public schools. How do you propose the school district prepares for decreasing budget realities as costs rise?
Dr. Amarok: Article VII, Section 1 of the Alaska State Constitution states that the Legislature shall establish and maintain a system of public schools open to all school age children. Public education is fundamental to democracy and economic advancement of the state. It is the obligation of the Governor and Legislature to make early, sustainable, adequate and equitable funding a top priority for the exemplary education of our youth.
We have had to “tighten our belts” but the School Board, Superintendent, administrators and teachers have worked tirelessly to serve the community through partnership and innovation. Nome Public Schools has an impressive staff that has sought and obtained grants and funding from local, regional and statewide organizations to supplement the school’s budget. We are extremely grateful for the support of the Nome City Council and Mayor, and organizations such as the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation, Bering Straits Native Corporation, Sitnasuak Native Corporation, Nome Community Center, AASB and Kawerak, Inc.
Nome Nugget: What policies would you support to attract and retain the best teachers possible for NPS?
Dr. Amarok: I support funded opportunities and resources for quality and relevant staff support and continuing professional development opportunities to promote the implementation of the NPS-adopted Alaska State Standards. We continue to provide opportunities through the Wednesday in-Services and through mentoring. The greatest factors affecting the ability of students to meet the State Standards are: the preparedness of the teachers and the support the teachers are provided by the district.