Trine Nelson has the right idea of what a school board member should do.
A mother of children that have attended schools in the Kyrene Elementary School District, Ms. Nelson knows that a successful school board member serves to help provide the means where all students receive a quality education followed by priorities such as lifting children up, supporting educators, moving the schools forward, and forging ties with the community in a collaborative fashion to achieve positive and far-reaching results.
A community activist with a long track record of working with children and parents in all possible conditions, Ms. Nelson pledges to be transparent and civil working with community members to provide an inclusive atmosphere on the Kyrene board and prepare children for the future.
Ms. Nelson graciously took the time to respond to questions about her candidacy for the Kyrene Elementary School Board.
The questions and her responses are below.
- Please tell the voters, at least three reasons they should vote for you to serve on the Kyrene School Board.
“The first reason is I’ve been a member of this school district for a long time and volunteered in a variety of capacities, the most recent working as the co-chair for the successful M and O or maintenance operation override last year. Through that process, I really got a deep understanding of how complex school finance is and having to learn about why we were going out for the override, what those dollars would go to and why we couldn’t just shift things like you do your household. I’m going to take my HBO bill and put it over here. School finance doesn’t work that way. So much of what we can spend in buckets of money, we are legally required to spend monies in certain ways. It’s a lot more complex than a lot of people understand. As a board member, I think it’s advantageous to have someone who already has a very rudimentary understanding of some of that complexity.
The second reason in addition to being a volunteer in the district is I’m also a mom. I had two kids in the district. One just finished his time in Kyrene. My oldest moved on to Tempe Union, but my other is still in the district and both of my kids have had very good experiences. They’ve had very different learning experiences due to their identified needs. One of my children is autistic and so kind of navigating the world of IEPs and making sure the proper supports are in place. So, really collaborating with our school teams is really important.
Finally, the third reason, which might be the most important a school board is it’s really important to have people who are members of the school board, who are able to listen to collaborate in a really respectful way and then move forward as a body to do what’s best for children. I’ve had my whole working professional career, really listening to ideas, helping groups kind of plan what their priorities or what their ultimate goals are, and then working backward to figure out how are we going to do that and really kind of synthesizing ideas from a variety of people.”
- Please advise what are at least three main issues in the Kyrene Board Race. Please explain.
“I would say when I think about the board race, I think about what are the challenges facing Kyrene. For that, I would say really the shortage in teachers and educational support staff. That’s something that is being faced statewide. There are a variety of reasons for that, but these are critical positions that make educating our children possible and not being able to recruit or retain that talent is really detrimental in the long run.
The second issue for me would be the declining enrollment how do you balance declining enrollment due to demographic changes in our area? I mean, people like where they live. And so, when your kid graduates from Kyrene, they don’t leave. Everybody stays. So, it doesn’t lead lot to a lot of neighborhood turnover. So how do you combat declining enrollment and still make the district attractive to other people?
The third issue I would say one of the biggest issues that we face when outside if we put the lack of funding aside is really the social and emotional health of our children. I think we live in a very complex world in the past two years when kids haven’t lived in a bubble. They’ve experienced a lot of trauma through just the uncertainty of the pandemic. Maybe there’s been a lot of economic challenges within their families. And just like we do as adults, we show up to work, and some days we are not our best but the difference is hopefully you and I, as adults, have really good coping skills. But a lot of times our kids don’t like something and so that leads to them acting out in different ways. We have to really make sure we have support in place for one, teach them good coping skills, and how to coexist with other kids. It’s really important, not only for their future, but it also contributes greatly to creating a safe learning environment.”
- Please describe your campaign strategy to reach voters, including Independents and Disaffected Republicans.
“I have been out every weekend in our community, since I announced I was running in April, knocking on doors and trying to talk to voters. We have a very big district but you know, I want to talk to people. I want to connect with people. So, I mean, there’s that direct voter outreach. The other way is whenever I’m invited to speak somewhere unless there’s some big event just say I always accept. I also make sure I’m taking every opportunity to write, you know, if the Ahwatukee Foothills News asks, “Hey, do you want to write an op-ed? Yes, I’ll write an op-ed. So, really taking opportunities where I can to connect with people. That’s really, very grassroots. I guess I think one of the interesting things about the school board race is that we’re nonpartisan individuals unless they go and research about us. There’s not a D or an R by our names but I mean, if you do look, I mean, it’s, it’s not hard to find out what party people belong to. It’s fairly obvious and I’m not ashamed of my party affiliation. I think when I reached out and I do connect with someone who’s an independent or someone who’s been, you know, a Republican and discuss what are the issues facing the district? What are the challenges in education that I’ve seen in the Kyrene community? More often than not, there are a lot of commonalities there. So, I think it’s really taking the time to talk to people and kind of set aside a lot of the provocative flashpoint and really just get down to how what’s affecting your kids, what’s affecting your grandkids. What was your experience as a former educator and really talking with people about those and there’s a lot of connection there.”
- Is there anything not covered in the first three questions that you would like the readers to know about you or your candidacy for the Kyrene School Board?
“I would say one of the reasons that I’m running is Kyrene has a really great, excellent reputation for educational excellence. What I want to see is us still pushing forward, finding ways to find continuous improvement, but doing so in a climate that’s not hostile. When you look at our board meetings, like there are other boards, you know, throughout the valley that might have more content in their meetings, but I think our community is very invested in public education and want our children to be successful and that’s really why I’m running for the Kyrene School Board. There are areas of opportunity and improvement, and that’s what I hope to be able to move forward by working with various groups within the community.”
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