FAYETTEVILLE -- Four candidates running in the Sept. 20 School Board election introduced themselves to voters Sunday.
The candidates met with a small crowd inside the Performing Arts Center at Fayetteville High School for a forum organized by the Fayetteville High School Parent Teacher Student Organization.
Dates to remember for School Board elections
Aug. 22: Deadline to register to vote.
Sept. 13: Early voting begins
Sept. 20: Election
For questions on voting, contact the Washington County Clerk’s Office at (479) 444-1711.
More information can be found online by visiting www.co.washington.ar.us/index.aspx?page=869.
Source: Staff report
Two Fayetteville School Board positions are up for election: the seat for Zone 1 and the At-Large, Position 1 seat.
Nika Waitsman was appointed in October to finish out the unexpired term of an at-large seat vacated when former board member Jim Halsell moved with his family out of state. Waitsman opted to run for the Zone 1, as did Farla Steele-Treat. Steve Percival, the incumbent, is not running for re-election.
Candidates for the at-large seat are Maria Baez de Hicks and Megan T. R. Hurley.
Waitsman, 49, is a homemaker who has lived with her family in Fayetteville for 18 years. She has three children, including a Fayetteville High School graduate and two others who are attending school in the district.
Waitman's community involvement includes being a past Fayetteville director for Community Kids' Closet and prior experience as a Parent Teacher Student Organization president at Woodland Junior High School and Fayetteville High School.
This year on the board, Waitsman was involved in the many hours members spent vetting and interviewing candidates for superintendent.
Every school district faces challenges today, but in Fayetteville, the district has a handful of issues that need attention, including reaching low-income students and ensuring "middle of the road" students are challenged, Waitsman said. She's interested in seeing schools become more innovative in teaching children who have immediate access to facts and figures on their smartphones.
Steele-Treat, 57, acts as a school principal for the Northwest Arkansas Children's Shelter and is a certified educator with a doctorate in school administration. She and her husband have lived in Fayetteville for six years. They have a daughter at the University of Arkansas and two other daughters attending college out of state.
"I have always been willing to serve," Steele-Treat said. "Everywhere I live, everywhere I work, it is my philosophy I need to be giving back."
Public schools are an essential part of the community, more than just a place where children go to school, Steele-Treat said. She is interested in working toward all students achieving high academic standards, including those who experience hardships.
Baez de Hicks, 43, has spent her professional life working in the Wal-Mart vendor community for various companies. She currently is a senior category manager and category adviser for Samsung. She has lived in Fayetteville for 21 years. She and her husband have two children in Fayetteville School District. She also was the legal guardian for a niece and nephew who graduated from Fayetteville High School.
Board decisions have a direct impact on her children, Baez de Hicks said.
"I will do anything for them," she said. "What I bring for them will help everyone else."
Baez de Hicks said her reasons for running include wanting to help and to be a voice for portions of the community that can feel left out, including those of minority races, who are disabled or are low-income.
Hurley, 37, owns Barre3, a fitness studio, in Fayetteville. She has lived in Fayetteville for 11 years. She and her husband have a preschooler and a first-grader in the district. She has past experience as a teacher in a New York City high school and in the KIPP Delta Public Schools in Helena.
Hurley is interested in promoting transparency and communication, including through social media outlets, she said. She wants to parents to continue choosing public schools.
"Public schools are a place where all the different parts of town come together," she said.
Board terms are five years. In the past five Fayetteville board elections, contested races have been decided from as few as 200 votes to a little more than 1,000 votes.
Forum organizers hoped to give the candidates a voice, said Catherine Baker, co-president of the Parent Teacher Student Organization with Cristy Smith. Smith was out of town.
"I have three kids in the district," Baker said. "It matters who is representing me on the board and that they will listen to what the patrons want. If you aren't involved in the process, then you really don't have a voice."
NW News on 08/15/2016
Print Headline: Voters meet Fayetteville School Board candidates