Bobby Burgess and April Smith run for School Board Seat F

Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 10:56 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Bobby Burgess and April Smith are running for seat F on the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board.

Burgess said he is running because he cares about the community. “I care about our students, our schools, and our educators, and I know that a strong public education system can be the foundation for a strong community. I’ve been paying attention, and I think that the school board needs leadership that can make rational and reasonable decisions that benefit all students and are based on fact and stakeholder input.”

According to Burgess, School Board leadership needs to listen to the public. “I want to advocate for a fully-funded school district. I want to ensure that we protect music and art programs or bring back those that we’ve lost, like elementary band and orchestra.”

He wants to strengthen community partnerships in order to improve art, music, and sports programs. “I want to improve literacy in our district while helping our schools and our elementary school teachers adapt to the Alaska Reads Act. The Alaska Reads Act is a well-intentioned state law, but it comes with some significant challenges, including training and funding requirements. So we need to support our educators in our schools as we help them adapt,” Burgess said.

Smith, meanwhile, is running as an incumbent to retain seat F on the School Board.

According to Smith, she still has work to do on the board, including policy review. “A lot of our policies, when you go to look at them, things that they cross-reference don’t actually exist or haven’t been reviewed for 20, 30 years, and it’s really just time to make sure that all of our policies are in place to keep our employees and our students and families safe and put up good guardrails.”

She wants to bring the district’s policy organization in line with the state. “We’re going to streamline into the Association of School Boards, the Alaska Association of School Boards system so that everyone’s on the same page, and we can find it, and their system is just a little more user-friendly. People tend to complain that they have a hard time finding our policies or our administrative regulations regarding something, and this is going to make it a lot easier,” explained Smith.

She said she’s interested in keeping the government where it belongs. “Public school is a government school, so I want to make sure that all of the statutes, policies and laws are being followed, and that when we’re making new policies, they are in line with public sentiment and no religious, sectarian or cult belief is guiding those policies.”

Burgess and Smith appear on the ballot for all borough residents in the municipal elections on October 3.