In their own words: School board candidate Sandy Martinson
School Board Seat D, three-year term
Incumbent Sandy Martinson:
NN: What are your qualifications and why do you want to run for the School Board?
Sandy Martinson: An important qualifier for me being on the School Board is my commitment to promote the wellbeing of all the future leaders in this community, in addition to currently raising my own children in this school district. I’ve had the privilege of serving on the School Board this past year. The year went by fast and I learned a great deal during this time. I learned new teams, student achievement, goal setting and accountability. I add a different perspective and experiences to the School Board. My career involves working with adults from the Seward Peninsula in a correctional setting. I bring organizational and leadership skills, networking, drafting policy and procedures, budgets, training, fostering a team, emergency response and working with diverse populations. Giving back is important to me. To achieve that, I serve on a variety of different boards and committees: the Seaside Advisory Board, Nome Reentry Coalition Taskforce, Alaska Tribal Liaison Committee, Sex Offender Treatment Provider Committee and the Annual Jail Research Network Team. Several committees that I recently joined are the Interagency Committee, the Public Safety Committee and the Local Emergency Planning Committee. I am actively involved in Girl Scouts and I stay involved in my children’s educational and extracurricular activities. I want to continue staying informed and to have a voice in our schools. Being more involved with promoting the success of all of our future leaders is a priority of mine. Staying connected with parents, students, teachers and administrators is one of my goals. I have the necessary skills to continue to be an asset to the School Board. Servicing the Nome community is a priority of mine.
NN: Describe your experience with education in Nome and highlight the changes you’d like to see in the Nome School District.
Sandy Martinson: My experience with education in Nome has been as a parent and an active long-term volunteer. I have shown dependable and active involvement with my children’s education and extracurricular activities starting when they were in preschool. I began by serving on the Nome Preschool Board. As they have grown, I maintain an active and reliable presence in their sports, fundraising, Girls Scout events, classroom, lunchroom and entrepreneur efforts (Lemonade Day, Girl Scout cookie sales, etc.). This past October I ran for the School Board and was elected by the community to serve. It has been my honor to learn and serve the community in this role over the past year. I have learned the School Board is student, staff and community centered. I also learned there are areas of improvement. One area of improvement is ensuring our children are getting practical life skills and being prepared in alignment with global changes.
My role as a school board member would be to assist the team in identifying and adopting programs that target practical life skills. Another role of the school board would be to periodically request reports from staff that assess the progress and practicality of these programs. As a school board member, I would maintain a neutral perspective and support requests for modernizing or upgrading or using alternatives that involve technology. Another improvement area is encouraging and promoting open communication and transparency in our school district. The school board is currently working on open communication and transparency. These areas are seen in utilizing social media, the school districts website and considering other public venues to share information.
NN: The state budget continue to contract. How do you propose the school district prepares for decreasing budget realities as costs rise?
Sandy Martinson: The school district can foster partnerships in the community to help build financial stability. These collaborative relationships are a good way to cost share and supplement decreasing funding. This also creates a larger sense of community and investment in the future leaders that will eventually fill our local jobs. As a school board member, my role is to act as a liaison between the schools and the community. Another role is to actively participate in programs that build good community relationships. Partnering with other school districts or educational institutions would assist in cost sharing. Ultimately, a school board member’s role is to cultivate an environment of collaboration and cooperation with the community and other agencies. We should also promote an environment in which the district is aggressively seeking grants, local, state and federal funding opportunities. Another role of a school board member is to establish priorities for the fiscal management of the district. The school board members can assess and ensure the district is spending funding in alignment with the priorities established for the district.
NN: With rising health care costs for Nome Public School employees, how do you propose to remedy the health care situation for teachers so they don’t leave Nome?
Sandy Martinson: The school board is working with the superintendent to remedy the issue with health care costs. The superintendent is tasked with looking for a lower cost health care plan, as well as putting available monetary resources toward reducing the cost of the plan for our teachers. This current insurance situation is irreversible, as it is a result of a self-funded health care program that had expenses that were not projected for. The school board has always tried to keep our costs as low as possible for our employees and this decision was made with the understanding that it would save us money. However, the claims far outweighed what was expected. As board members we are always looking for ways to show our staff that we value their hard work and do our best to be fiscally responsible not only to our district but our community. The next time health care comes to us for a decision we will ensure that it is cost effective, that we know as many projected claims as possible and that it is good for our staff. And lastly, thank you to those who helped provide me with guidance and support.