Widefield District 3 school board election questionnaires

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Two seats on the Widefield School District 3 school board are up for general election Nov. 5.

Neil Nelson, Carlos Gonzalez, Victoria Latrell and Edward Mouchette are running in the general election for Widefield School District 3 school board at-large.

The following candidates responded to a questionnaire sent by the Indy.

Edward Mouchette

Age:  58

Occupation: U.S. Military (Ret.)

1. What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of education?

I am certified by the Department of Education to be a surrogate parent for children with [the] Individual Education Program (IEP), evaluate, write and make placement decisions, I majored in adolescent psychology and justice studies/juvenile justice. I have adopted 10 children out of the Arizona state foster care system and I worked with DLS as a community adviser.

2. What is your top priority or vision for the school district?

I would like to see our District strengthen in special education programs, support our school safety program, fight for salary’s [sic] so we can stop turnover of educators, lobby to bring families back who have left the district for services offered by neighboring districts.

3. How would you achieve that?

I will research what is available for the district. I will stay in touch with parents so they know what is being addressed with the board and lobby that parents attend meetings and become involved. Also lobby Congress for more funding and monitor our military students [sic] progress coming from out of state locations.

4. In November 2017, voters approved a mill levy override for the district. How would you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face layoffs or
school closures?

Do more research into the program, make sure it meets the needs for the district. The goal is to make sure we don’t loose [sic] any of the workforce within the district.

Neil Nelson

Neil Nelson
  • Neil Nelson

Age:  67                

Occupation: Retired Educator

1. What relevant experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on the board of education?

I taught science in the Widefield School District for 32 years before retiring in 2006.  My first 23 years were at Janitell Junior High, and my last 9 years at Mesa Ridge High School.  I am a member of the first faculty at Mesa Ridge, and started at Janitell before the building was even completed.  During my teaching career I served on numerous committees and taskforces, which looked at a number of issues ranging from the district calendar to the screening of candidates for Superintendent.  I served many years on the Secondary Science Curriculum team.  I was always an employee who was willing to put in extra time to talk about district
or building issues.  I have been a parent, teacher, and public servant in the Widefield School District and understand the unique challenges and issues facing all of these parties.  I have served on the Board of Education for three years.

2. What is your top priority or vision for the school district?

I want
the Widefield School District to be a place where: students achieve theirmaximum potential, employees enjoy their jobs, and parents feel excited about sending their children.

3. How would you achieve that?

It’s important for schools to provide students lots of different experiences.  I support a wide range of curriculum opportunities as well as a full athletic program. Not every student is destined to go to four years of college, so we have programs that provide students opportunities that can lead into meaningful careers without a college degree. 

Students and parents have the opportunity to make choices about the schools students attend.  Four of our elementary schools have been designated Innovation schools.  Elementary students can attend schools that emphasize the arts, STEAM, project based learning, or computer
integration.  Full ranges of classes from the building trades to Advanced Placement classes are offered in our High Schools and at our state of the art building trades facility.  Our superior music programs are recognized across the state.

I want our employees to feel appreciated and be compensated to the best of our ability. They all work very hard and play a momentous role in shaping our future.

Our parents should know that we want their children to succeed, and always feel safe at school.  We want our students and parents to always have fond memories of their times in Widefield.

4. In November 2017, voters approved a mill levy override for the district. How would you steward that funding to ensure budgets balance and the district won’t face layoffs or
school closures?

In 2017 we asked the voters in Widefield to approve a mill levy override and a bond measure to:
build a new preK – 8th school, to attract and retain high quality employees and to upgrade our security systems in the district.  I proud of the fact that this year we opened Grand Mountain School, our employees have received increases the last two years, and we have added additional security personnel and equipment throughout the district. 

It had been almost two decades since the district asked the community to pass a mill and bond measure.

The boards in Widefield have always been fiscally conscience and look for ways to stretch the taxpayer’s dollar.  We are fortunate to be in a part of the county where growth is occurring, and our numbers of students are going up.  The prospect of layoffs or school closures thankfully does not exist. 

5. School safety is a concern across the country, today. How do you propose ensuring students are safe and buildings are secure?

I will continue to vote to improve our district security. Each building has key card readers for entry and visitors are screened and must provide ID to enter the buildings.  We continue to upgrade and install cameras to monitor our buildings. We have increased our number of Campus Supervisors and armed our District level security personnel. School safety will always get a great deal of attention from me.

We need to continue to adequately staff our schools and district with mental health professionals and identify students who are struggling.  Students need to feel, and be safe while at school.  I want our students to be excited about going to school!  Years after graduating when students say: “When I went to school…”, I want the stories to be happy ones with good memories.

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