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Iron County School Board District 4 Debate Transcript


welcome to what's really happening in southern utah the podcast i'm your host dan kidder our podcast is all about issues facing southern utah here we will announce your upcoming events talk with movers and shakers in our community about important issues facing beaver iron cane and washington counties and make sure you are kept in the loop with interesting news and commentary of local interest while we welcome folks from all over our goal with this podcast is to give residents of southern utah a place to find out about issues that affect them you can find us on apple podcasts and also on our facebook group what's really happening in southern utah and online what's really happening

all right folks we are back in the studio today we have the third part of our four-part series of candidate debates and we had scheduled today to be a three-candidate debate we are working on school board district four today and so we had scheduled this to be with mr dale brinkerhoff and miss stephanie hill and mary formaster unfortunately mary contacted me this morning to let me know that she is in the hospital and will not be able to attend so i spoke with the other candidates who are here with me today in the studio and i'm going to be bringing her in for a 45 minute solo interview once she has recovered but we do have mr brinkerhoff and we have mrs hill with us here in the studio today welcome and thank you for coming in and thank you for the opportunity thanks dan great opportunity appreciate it so this is for school district seat of district four um so looking at when the ballots come out you'll have two different uh districts that you can vote on if you were in district four or district five so i'm going to tell you both right up front i'm not voting for either one of you i don't actually get to vote for anybody running for school board because i'm in district 3. so sorry to tell you that you're not going to want to vote here today that's just the way the ball bounces i think i get to vote next year or the next election cycle for uh school district so we have got some interesting questions here and some of these questions came from members of the community some of them i worked on i actually have a background in education many many moons ago and so i provided some of these questions and they are specific to the education situation of what's going on in iron county in the state and the country so mrs hill has won the coin toss she uh got lit lady liberty and she has opted to go first so the way this will work is uh you each will have three minutes to kind of introduce yourself tell people why they should vote for you where they can find out more information about your positions and your platforms and you'll each have the three minutes for that when the timer runs out i will turn off your mic so nobody can come back and accuse me of giving anybody preferential treatment after that we will ask a series of questions and uh the person that the question is asked will have two minutes to answer that question and their opponent will have one minute for a rebuttal at the end of those uh individual questions there will be one question that is asked of both of you and you'll each have two minutes to answer that question and there will be no rebuttal on that and then at the end of that you will have two minutes for a closing statement are we all good all right i've got three minutes on the clock and we're going to allow mrs hill to start us off with an introduction great thanks dan i appreciate the opportunity i'm stephanie hill and i was born in cedar city utah into a family that settled the area 150 years ago since that time we've been farming and ranching in the area my grandfather was doug clark he was a county commissioner additionally an attorney he was the one actually one of the first to bring suit against the federal government in 1953 when his sheepherd was decimated by the nuclear fallout of the above ground testing in 1953 during the middle of those proceedings he died of a heart attack my mother is his youngest child she and my father married and moved to las vegas to raise their family i was raised in las vegas which at that time was essentially a satellite of southern utah in many ways it still is i graduated from high school i went to byu i actually finished my undergraduate degree at suu in english studying secondary education and spanish as well i then returned to las vegas where i spent 24 of my 27 years teaching at a nationally recognized technologies high school i taught english and spanish while i was there i had the opportunity to write curriculum i was on a number of curriculum adoption and book adoption committees i graded english for the nevada state proficiency exams during that time i was able to receive my master's degree from uc santa barbara in spanish i received a leadership endorsement from suu at that time i was later awarded a fulbright grant to teach english in rural northern mexico i followed that up with teaching at the internationally recognized university the tech of monterey shortly after that i had my son as a single mother and three years he was diagnosed with severe autism we spent the next 10 years 11 000 hours of therapy recovering him i became an advocate for special education and people with special needs i spent a lot of time at the state legislature offering my testimony and comment we were able to move some really important legislation for some of the most vulnerable people in the state of nevada four years ago i retired i moved my son with me to cedar city to help my widower father i'm his only surviving child while i've been here i've been able to substitute teach i've been on trust lands committees and accreditation committee i was only recently married and my husband has a very similar background to mine we have a great passion for education and community involvement um he is also from a ranching family if you can't tell my passion is literacy i think it's the building block of everything that we do and i appreciate the chance to introduce myself thank you thank you

mr brinkerhoff thank you for the opportunity dale brinkerhoff i am the incumbent running for a second term i'm actually a cane county native moved here in 1966 spent 33 years at the university in construction management we dealt with planning design construction operation maintenance engineering and energy management a very fun ride a lot of good friends at suu and uh pleased to see some some good projects that brought a good return to the university my political career is

sorry to even say a 32-year career in politics i've served in orderville town council kane county commission four-term cedar city council two terms iron county commission and finally on school board some of my better assignments were sitting on mental health and physical health on the five county board i learned a great appreciation for special needs in people with physical disabilities as well as mental it's a great service to me

it's been a good ride on school board i i'm fully supportive of the faculty and staff administration school we are on our right course and if i'm elected i will continue to follow that same course of action i believe the faculty deserve all the respect and support and protection that we can give them and i don't think we need a bunch of new programs or initiatives

that's about all the time i need today all right thank you stop that timer all right we're ready to get into the questions the first question is for mrs hill mrs hill more and more school boards are being mandated by state and federal law to include identity politics such as transformative social and emotional learning critical race theory queer theory and transgender theory into their curricula and policies what do you believe is the role of a school board member when it comes to implementing these policies into our schools you will have two minutes very good thanks for the question dan um clearly we live in divisive times um the the transgender policy i was able to sit before the school board work meeting a couple of weeks ago as dr hatch is trying to hammer out some kind of plan one of my major concerns is that there's very little legal precedence on how we handle some of these policies in school i i believe that we have a solid bullying policy in place i was rather disconcerned with part of the of some of the discussed policy

not being forthcoming with parents should there be a bullying incident for their child to make sure in fact special care was advised to be taken to not advise parents i'm absolutely opposed to that we're going to have to get a solid gender policy in place the the superintendent referenced federal law in fact i've been trying to investigate the federal law that would govern um very specifically gender identity and i'm i i can't find it i think it's maybe coming out of title six title seven potentially title ix but none of those deal with gender these are these are sex issues i want to make very clear that every child comes to school and we have an obligation to keep that child safe but i want to make i want to make very sure that we fall within legal guidelines i think we've also arrived at the place where we need to have legal counsel sitting in on the school board work meetings and then those public meetings clearly this is something we're going to have to identify i get rather disconcerned when all of our time and resources get swallowed up when with these discussions when we literally have a third of our children at reading level and again i'm going to go right back to literacy thank you okay mr brinkerhoff that's a very good question one that i'm sure i was very sure that would be on the on the list today the model policy that we're working on the missile reference to is a policy in working or trying to marry state school board as well as whatever state mandated along with federal guidelines of mainly title ix and we have a pretty good base to start on it's not going to please everyone but again the school district's responsibility as a whole is to provide an educational opportunity for all students and that means that we protect and defend all students as well and it's quite a challenge to try and marry up everyone's concern uh am i out you are out okay all right we're gonna get to your first question mr brinkerhoff more and more we're seeing school districts seek to eliminate parental guidance and input in school policies and even going so far as reporting parents who oppose school boards to the u.s justice department and the fbi's domestic terrorists for voicing their disapproval we've seen parents arrested or removed from school board meetings what do you believe is the proper role of parents in the educational environment well certainly i believe that parents are an integral part of any discussion any action any policy any procedure that comes out of the school there is legal precedent that bars a district from disseminating some information and some of it is geared toward parents and i find that very very objectional the things we're working on but

i'm very concerned that it's an open book between

the district the teachers the counselors as well as the students and the parents i don't know how we i've got so entwined in all this government interference in their lives their policies we don't need it in iron county and we're trying to be as clean and straight with with parents or with with everyone as possible as we possibly can be okay mrs hill very good thank you i can answer that question dale the reason that we've got entwined is that we take federal money and we're accountable to them with their stipulations and their caveats i would also remind all of our listeners that according to state statute parents are deemed the primary teachers of their children i'm infinitely grateful for merrick garland calling those of us who take that driver's seat in our child's education i'm infinitely grateful that he would have called us domestic terrorists because that in fact has marshaled it has marshaled the army of parents to get more involved i was incredibly grateful during the last school board meeting when dr hatch dem when he highlighted the initiatives available for all to view it's actually under the employees heading but it's for anyone in the community and certainly parents who would want to view that i am grateful for parental support and contribution okay as emily so the next question is for you mrs hill recently we had a social studies teacher within iron county who expressed on social media his wish that republican lawmakers would be killed by rioters this was in response to the events of january 6 2021. do you believe the teachers should have the freedom to express thoughts like this on social media where they are seen by their students or should they be held to a higher standard of behavior great question thank you of course teachers have the freedom to express their thoughts on social media they also have they also have the right to face the consequences that those thoughts are going to purport um i'm a i'm a little familiar with what came down and he suggested physical violence against against those people that's a frightening that's a that is a frightening reality and i was grateful for the swift action that dr hatch took i um i i'm speechless of course they can express their concerns but in fact teachers there was a time when we held to a higher standard i still think that's true um and i hope i get the opportunity in a moment to read from statute um regarding the the qualities in fact once referred to as american ideals that that teachers by statute are charged with teaching this is honesty integrity kindness any kind of inflammatory and inciting comment with regard to the the a political climate or action is absolutely unacceptable um and i i'm a bit familiar with the action that was taken by the school district and i'm very grateful for it there's a time and a place social media is in fact that it's social and in in a in a very difficult way the classroom continues on into social media and it's certainly captured the attention of all of our students and influences everything that we all do thank you okay mr brinkerhoff

well there's no doubt that social media has really influenced and made a great impact on all of our lives we we all people remember when such things didn't exist and we dealt with each other on a personal basis on a daily on a daily routine routine we will always have certain people who tread a little on the outside of the lines such as the case that is mentioned and i don't condone that i do support and and protect the faculty and trying to teach correct principles teaching correct history and the things that we hold near and dear to our values as a country but we do expect teachers to act professionally because they are professional and that's why we hired them so it it's a it's a requirement of everyone including teachers too all right your time ran out sir oh i didn't know that rebuttal that was a rebuttal yes sir i didn't mean it as such all right this question is for you this is one of yours um currently iron county students are approximately 50 proficient in academic subjects according to rise results we're seeing a desire from parents to increase this level of proficiency what steps would you take to improve proficiency of students in academic metrics for reading language arts science social studies and math by simply hiring good professional teachers in addition to those we already have we have the programs in place we have the have the academic materials for them to teach

we just need to implement those things in the classroom and and we are grading we're trying to improve those efficiently efficient the proficiencies and the scores are rising but we just need to improve on what we're already doing we don't need some new initiatives or new programs we have those in place already okay mrs hill

i love this question this is almost essentially my entire platform in fact in ela that number is 37 there will be new test scores that will be published in the fall but we've only got 37 percent of our fourth graders reading at grade level that's abysmal um i'm sure that our listeners are not aware in fact we were only all made aware through the new york times yesterday lucy calkins who's been a guru of a lead of reading instruction has backtracked on her whole language approach which in fact is the majority of the nation and as i've had experience in this district i can see a whole language approach being used discrete phonics has got to be taught in early in in early instruction and if kids aren't learning to read then we need to go back in fact i would i would say that we need to re-look at those programs and we need to take a look at the rise test to see if we're testing the right things not enough time things okay

um mrs hill those questions for you student bullying has been a real problem nationwide and has even resulted in a suicide at cedar high what specific actions would you take as a school board member to raise awareness of the harm bullying causes and what corrective actions would you implement for those who engage in this behavior thank you for the question it's it is a reflection of a culture that is in crisis i read lots of educational literature it's been remarkable as the as society at large has been able to unmask and kids have actually been able to get back to school what has happened as a result of the opportunity to build community again i think we've all heard this expression hurt people hurt people i think that's part of what's going on with bullying i would actually go right back to our our test scores 37 of the kids only 37 percent it's not much better even pre-covet it was 50 percent when a kid sits in a class and attends school and is continuously failing within the major arena of his life how else is he going to respond we have got to re-establish a curriculum or curricula that work each teacher is given only two pages of a state standard that's not enough to actually be able to perform well on a standardized test i think if we can crowd out ugly hurtful behavior with more community opportunities and more opportunities to experience success that's going to galvanize the student body we we have you know i we've had a lot of reason for society to to unravel and for traditions and for security to unravel i i we need to get back to school and we need to make sure our kids are successful we have a good bullying policy in place i just want to see it have to be used less again i'm going to go back right back to the academics and supporting a solid culture celebrating community thank you i don't need a rebuttal no rebuttal on that one okay no this next question is for you mr brinkerhoff currently utah uses rise to measure student proficiency prior to rise utah utilized sage for this purpose aside from state assessments would you support localized assessments in iron county

well i guess i'm not fully to speed on it i support anything that

that has to do with the testing of our students i believe we have good curriculum we have good teachers

we just need to get back to basics and and teach what we already know and uh

and test and i don't know i'm a little lost as to how to respond to that but i'm i'm all in for testing and raising our score levels okay mrs hill thank you very much um both rise and sage are state developed tests

they are developed from as i've already mentioned essentially a two-page curriculum this may be one of the most important things that i say today you cannot get good results on standardized testing when you don't have standardized teaching each of our teachers is given a two page standards document and then they're expected to have students perform on on highly specialized tests i am completely opposed to that what would i do here's what i would do we are by law mandated to teach those standards in fact right now we are revising standards for ela and social studies i would resurrect a much denser curriculum that would real that would align with those standards very good not enough time

this question is for you mrs hill currently the majority of teachers in iron county are nearing retirement age what steps would you take as a school board member to retry retain and attract good teachers and also what steps would you take to correct or remove teachers who are underperforming it's very difficult to remove a teacher who is underperforming i remember

over several years um

having to go through a book study with poor teachers who um doug lemov's um book and there were 63 i believe 63 practices strategies for for good teaching and i remember doing a book study for the better part of a year and some of those poor teachers were still poor it's very difficult to get them um out or trained actually as far as being able to hire good teachers i am not aware of the partnership that the iron county school district has with the the college of education over at suu whatever it is we can deepen that i can remember when i went through my teacher education program i clearly had a lot of practice in the classroom but i was absolutely hungry especially as an english teacher i only had one i only had one class that actually taught me how to teach writing well that's in fact what you do when you go into the english classroom you marry a stack of papers i would have loved the opportunity as a student to go into those classrooms to to to have teachers have modeled for me what the classroom looked like i am firmly convinced that we can deepen that connection literally less than a mile away um we have a gold mine opportunity with the university of course i'm i've i really like the university and i'd love to see that relationship develop anyway thank you

mr brinkerhoff we do have a good relationship with suu and it's a very fortunate thing for the district the best way we get good teachers is to increase the salary so we can attract good teachers require professionalism and train them and treat them well to stay and the follow-up was yes it's difficult to get rid of a bad teacher and sometimes a bad teacher is not always bad there's different methods of review and evaluation sometimes marginal teachers can can be helped and trained and

encouraged and made good effective teachers in the classroom okay next question is for you mr brinkerhoff

recently a charter school with multiple campuses in the state was denied permission by the state school board to open a campus in cedar city what is your position on school choice for students and parents in iron county i'm a big supporter of school choice the question you pose ask for school boards

authorization or

or encouragement i'm not getting the right words my comment was to vote for no opposition not for support nor non-support i'd welcome them to come but i don't want them to come with any strings attached to suv excuse me icsd that would turn into a financial or any other kind of a a situation where would where we would have to support maybe physically or not physically but monetarily so that's my position okay mrs hill this is fascinating i want to dig in to see who this was so i'm going to have to talk with you about this later dan the state school board there is a state school board there's also a state charter board so i'm wondering where the denial came from this you're not this is not the typical answer from someone who lived and died on the public school hill but i am all for the money following the backpack i love that idea i think competition breeds excellence and if our public schools are forced to up their game i know we will i know we will and i think everyone everyone wins in the process i love charters i think homeschooling is a wonderful option for those parents

i like competition i'm a good old american thank you all right so this question is for both of you you will each have two minutes and uh there will be no rebuttal and since mrs hill you started off i'm going to let mr brinkerhoff go first on this one currently the statewide student-to-teacher ratio is 16-1 in iron county the average ratio is 22-1 and in some schools is nearly 30 to one what steps would you support to reduce the student-to-teacher ratios in iron county well we have several problems number one is the space availability for expanding of classrooms the other thing is being able to hire good teachers to staff those classrooms we have made significant gains in teacher salaries in the last two years and that's helped and will continue to help but we're in a position that we don't have a lot of space that we could add more classrooms if we had the teaching support to take care of him and we're working on that that's part of the bond proposal that will be coming forth in two years with when their other debt service is paid down so it's a it's a two-prong thing space and teacher availability and we'll provide those as we as we can as we move forward okay mrs hill very good thank you we got to have more space we certainly have to have more space we're thinking about tearing down a school we need to be building a school we've had a ton of growth in the valley we're going to get a ton more growth in the valley and we need to we need to create some more space those classrooms are big you know i'm looking at that having come from clark county uh oftentimes 30 to 1 was the threshold i i taught classes with 37 to 1. you're not doing a whole lot of teaching i'll be perfectly honest with you and in the younger classes it needs to be much lower um when it shouldn't be more than about probably 15 in first grade not more than 18 17 18 and second and third we've got to build more schools clearly this is an issue of money and iron county has become more competitive that's a challenge we're the second poorest county in the state and i'm not sure you know i just sat in on the sheriff talking about what he's able to pay his his deputies and it's it's disheartening at best with that in mind i think we're going to have a very difficult time justifying tearing down classroom space and we're going to have to find some money to build some more i think we can rebond within a couple of years but we've got to see what we can do about bumping up teacher benefits or salaries and clearly we we need we need more space we need more classroom space these are not easy solutions thank you okay mr brinkerhoff i don't have rebuttal she's correct well you agree with her yeah all right what she said all right mrs hill you uh will have two minutes to give a final statement and make sure you let everybody know where they can find out more information about you or how they can contact you and all that good fun stuff oh let me start that timer over it is good fun stuff i want to thank you again dan i want to thank the listeners i'm going to go right back to i'm going to go right back to literacy um this was really a bombshell in the new york times it's not a bombshell for those of who understand literacy my son uh as i've already mentioned it took us 11 000 hours of therapy to get him language and we still keep pulling it what i didn't mention is that i paid almost eighteen thousand dollars to get him 160 hours of specialized reading reading training um through linda mood bell truly the cadillac of services and i'm going to tell you right now you've got to have discrete phonics and then you have to have guided think alouds with reading we do need to change our reading program i just think it's pretty remarkable that that lucy calkins who's made tens of millions of dollars is finally realizing this we go right back to reading it is the single factor that bridges the socio-economic gap it's the single factor everything else that we do with kids will fall into place well that's a joke not really but but we're going to solve the majority of our academic issues if we can get these kids to read one of my platform issues is access i've already mentioned that dr hatch has a comprehensive list of initiatives with that we can drill down in on programs i think i've already mentioned that with the two page standards that sort of set us up for standardized testing failure i would like to resurrect old curricula and have teachers input to make sure that our kids can be successful please contact me hill4school it's the same if you'd like to read my platform i'm very happy to speak with any of you thank you thank you mr brinkerhoff and thanks again for the opportunity this is a this is a good public forum and it it's great for all of us to be involved in it i would simply say that i intend to follow this the same course that i've been on for the last three and a half years so i don't expect any new great and wonderful programs i need to take a quick opportunity to thank ken peterson who was an administrator the business administrator for 45 years he's the one that kept this district in black solvent space over the many years of leading years so we owe him a great deal of thanks we have a new administrator todd hess and our new superintendent is lance hatch as everyone knows when he interviewed he said i wouldn't expect to come here as a as a show pony but as a work horse and he's he's documented and and performed that to the utmost he's uh he's very efficient very concerned about public attitudes and and public input i have a lot of respect and admiration for both of those gentlemen as well as the other directors on the in the administration i'm i'm pleased to be there but my contact is simply dalebrenkerhoff be happy to respond to anyone phone number is 435-559-1852

and thanks again for the opportunity thank you both for being here it's no fun to put yourself in the hot spot it can be a little daunting and we want to also send out our best wishes to mary formaster who could not be here today she ended up being in the hospital she had agreed to attend and participate and so we're going to again have her come back into the studio once she's recovered and do a solo interview where we can ask her some of these same questions uh both of you best of luck to you and i i want to say give a little opinion here you know putting yourself in this position is rough it it's it's not fun i've been in your shoes many many many times over the years um so either of these candidates who align with your values and your beliefs are deserving of your vote so check out their positions and share this with anyone else because i don't think there's any subject within our community that's more important than education we have uh future generations who are going to have to take care of us when we're up there in a couple more years for me i think so this this topic is extremely important it affects property taxes it affects so much that goes on in our community and we are expanding the school board uh from five to seven and so that is happening uh as we speak and this will be the first year going forward that we have seven districts uh in iron county and so we have a couple of more candidates who are running unopposed and then tomorrow we will have in the studio mr billy davis and mr steve merrill who are running for district five miss tiffany christiansen declined to participate quote because things could be taken out of context so you can do with that what you will but we will have those two gentlemen in here tomorrow running for district five and we really appreciate everybody checking in and listening and ask you to share this podcast and you all have a great day thank you for listening to what's really happening in southern utah the podcast we hope that you found this content to be worthwhile we want to hear from you so if you have any upcoming event that you'd like to share with our listeners or if you represent a local group we'd love to have you come into the studio just email us at contact what'

we're also working on streaming this podcast live and have the ability for folks to call in and ask questions or share items of interest to residents of southern utah be sure to share this podcast with your friends and again thanks for listening



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