Voters will choose between appointed incumbent Micah Smith and political newcomer Karen Roberts to represent the Zone 2 at-large position on the Albany School Board.
Both candidates say they have the background and experience voters should choose.
Smith, 31, is a detective with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office. He was appointed to the board in March 2012 following the resignation of Bill O’Bryan, who has since died.
Several issues that Smith would like to tackle currently are facing the district. They include financial and budget issues, intervention and enrichment for students along with teacher planning time, programs for Talented and Gifted students, the high school Advanced Diploma program, and school security and risk management.
Smith said he’ll continue to focus on fiscal responsibility, with an eye to giving equally to programs rather than “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
He said he’ll work to bring the district back to a full calendar, reinstate step increases and look for ways to reduce class sizes and bring back programs and personnel lost to budget cuts.
It’s important to continue early release days to give teachers time to collaborate, both on new state requirements and on ways to reach struggling students, Smith said. He also would continue emphasis on effectively identifying TAG students, improving communication between parents, students and teachers about their needs, and working with community partners to increase their options.
Smith supports the district’s new advanced diploma program, which gives high school students the opportunity to stay an additional year to earn college credits on the district’s dime.
He plans to continue the security evaluations he is leading at each district building, and said he’d also like to see a staff position rededicated to risk management, and to ensure all schools are on a common, comprehensive, tiered security plan.
Smith said voters should choose him as their representative because he has an extensive history of working with educators, both personally and professionally, to help students get the most out of their educational experience. He said he also closely follows state and national educational issues that could affect Albany students.
“I am a tireless worker focused and dedicated to ensuring all students in our district receive the highest quality of instruction and learning from the most professional, expert cadre of teaching, support and administrative personnel of any district in the state,” he said.
Roberts, 53, has owned the Quilt Loft for 16 years. She said she doesn’t have a lot of preconceived notions about the issues facing the district, nor firm plans to address them.
She said she believes part of her value to voters comes from not having had many direct connections to the district, other than as a parent volunteer.
Roberts served on the board of directors for the preschool at First Christian Church for 15 years and felt it was time to step down from that position to allow someone to bring new ideas to the table. She said she believes personnel changes are important to the Albany School Board for the same reason.
“Hopefully, I have a fresh take on the schools in Albany,” she said.
Roberts said she chose to run because she wants to work with schools, but her schedule allows her little time during the hours classrooms are in session. However, she can make evening meetings and likes the idea of being able to add her voice to decisions about the district’s overall direction.
Serving both on the preschool board and as a longtime parent volunteer gave Roberts good insight into the political environment of school buildings, she said, as well as the ability to navigate it.
As a board member, she stressed, she’ll do her best to listen to all sides, particularly parents.
“People who know me know that I’ll give it my all,” she said.