BISBEE— For the first time in recent memory, the Bisbee Unified School District (BUSD) had a tight race going on this year.
According to the Cochise County Elections Office, as of Monday, the final vote count shows sitting board members Carol Loy with 1,656 votes and Ann Littrell with 1,493 votes will serve another term. Taking the third seat is Chris Vertrees with 1,506 votes who was in a tight race with Alison Williams who finished with 1,447 votes.
The Herald/Review reached out to the three board members with a series of questions. Loy’s and Litrell’s answers are below. Vertrees did not respond.
Herald/Review: How many years have you served on the board?
Carol Loy: 11 years.
Ann Littrell: Five years
HR: Why do you think you were reelected?
CL: I believe I was reelected because people know I am committed to the schools and students of Bisbee and stay knowledgeable about what’s happening. I’m active in both schools and the community, which gives me the opportunity to interact with a variety of people who trust me and know I will get answers to their questions and their concerns.
AL: I would like to think that I was reelected because voters recognize that I believe in public education, that I take my responsibilities as a school board member seriously, and that I use my legal training to review and analyze matters that come before the Board rather than just rubber stamping them. Of course, some voters may have voted for me because they recognize my name from when I was a Superior Court Judge.
HR: Do you have any specific plans you would like to see completed in the next two years?
CL: I have a number of priorities that I will continue working on, including providing a quality, safe educational experience for our students, promoting relevant and interesting Career Technology and dual credit classes, more opportunities for our high achieving students, better teacher training and support, more involvement and better communication with the community and local businesses, more involvement with parents and continuing to repair and improve our facilities. I will continue to support our band and other extracurricular activities, promote higher expectations from staff and students, more school pride and an increase in enrollment.
AL: It is hard to have specific plans in times like these but I do have several goals in mind. One of them has actually become more achievable due to the COVID crisis. I have long wanted to increase the use of computers to supplement classroom education. COVID related funding has allowed the District to purchase hundreds of new computers for students to use to access educational programs. Some of my other goals include setting up language labs at the schools, establishing new vocational programs, looking into competency based education, improving salaries for teachers and staff and encouraging community involvement.
HR: If hybrid classes are carried through the end of the year and into next year, what efforts will the district make to ensure all students have the capability to access the Internet ?
CL: We provide Chromebooks for students and make sure that hot spots are readily available. Our computer labs are accessible to all and teachers are ready to provide assistance and advice. We will continue tweaking the programs and learning what works.
AL: Although computers are now being used in large part because students cannot be in the classroom, they should continue to be an integral part of the educational process when COVID restrictions end. I would like to increase the number of computers until there is one available for every student. The District will continue to offer the opportunity for students to come to use school computer labs if students cannot access online classes at home. We also look at purchasing more computers if funding becomes available.
HR: In the past, school board members have been elected with far fewer votes. Why do you think more people voted in the election?
CL: It was refreshing to see so much interest in the School Board election, even though it was admittedly, most likely a result of the turnout for the General Election. Passions were intense on both sides, with emails and social media bringing heightened interest and instant information to a new level. The autonomy promoted heated discussions that served to get people more intimately involved and more likely to get out and vote.
AL: I think more people voted because of the presidential election although the District’s response to the COVID crisis might have prompted more interest in the school board elections as well.