Q-and-A with Apache Junction Unified School District board candidate Dena Kimble

Dena Kimble

Four area residents are running for two seats on the Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board in the Nov. 6 general election. The Apache Junction/Gold Canyon Independent e-mailed questionnaires to the candidates. They will be posted online in the order they were received.

Name: Dena Kimble

Age: 53

Education: Graduate of Interior Design School and Institute for Paralegal Studies

Town/neighborhood: Apache Junction, Arizona.

Present or most recent business/employment: Self-employed; Owner of Liberty Case Inc. Manager of Kimble Law Firm

Previous public office, boards and commissions: Apache Junction Board of Education vice president, Desert Vista Parent-Teacher Organization; president, Cactus Canyon Parent Teacher Organization; president, Apache Junction Volleyball Association

How are you better prepared to be a school board member than your opponents?: I have had three children who have attended Apache Junction schools; I have also served as president of the Desert Vista Elementary School and Cactus Canyon Junior High Parent-Teacher Organizations where I worked alongside teachers, administration and staff to help identify and address various needs at each school. I have also been a member of the AJUSD Governing Board for the last four years and have attended many seminars and conferences focused on the law related to school-district governance, improving school-district performance and being a successful governing-board member. While serving as a member of the AJUSD Governing Board, I have also had the opportunity to work with our city officials to improve and strengthen the relationship between the city and school district, have participated in the negotiations of inter-governmental agreements and have worked closely with our administration to improve the performance of our district as a whole. Finally, I have owned and operated business during my entire adult life. This experience in the business world has given me the ability to identify and correct areas of financial mismanagement, use resources efficiently and form mutually beneficial relationships.

If elected, what will you accomplish in your first 100 days in office?: As a governing board member, any accomplishments within my first 100 days in office must be made while working in conjunction with our superintendent and remaining board members. During the last several years, our governing board has made many changes aimed at improving the performance of our district, attracting and retaining valuable staff and enhancing the reputation of our schools. This has included but is not limited to becoming more financially efficient, expanding the curriculum and incorporating the AVID program offered to our students, providing greater access to EVIT programs, increasing teacher salaries, etc. My goal is to continue working with the other board members on these and other issues so that our district becomes a model for others to follow.

What are your hopes for Apache Junction Unified School District?: Ultimately, my hopes for the Apache Junction School District is for each of our individual schools to become an A+ rated school. I want our school district to be a reason that new families are attracted to our community. I also want our test scores to increase and would like to see all of our graduating students prepared for college or entrance into a trade school where they will have the foundation for future success.

Other boards and commissions, paid and unpaid, have a dais for its members, with staff members sitting in the audience or at nearby tables. Do you agree with the present school board meeting layout where the superintendent sits alongside the board of directors and why or why not?: Although I would support any decision made by a majority of our board members, I am in agreement with the current school board meeting layout where the superintendent sits alongside the governing board. I feel this layout allows our superintendent to address both the governing board and members of our audience in an efficient and effective manner. It also allows our superintendent to have the same vantage point as the governing board when listening to public comments, receiving information from staff members and viewing presentations on different topics.

The school board at a recent meeting evaluated the AJUSD superintendent. How do you rate Dr. Krista Anderson’s performance as superintendent: Exceeds, meets, approaches, or far falls below the level of performance required and why?: I truly appreciate and believe Dr. Anderson’s performance thus far has exceeded that required by a school district superintendent. In contrast to our previous superintendent, Dr. Anderson has consistently been visible at extracurricular activities and community events. She has made a tremendous effort to familiarize herself with our city and become acquainted with our council, parents and business owners. Dr. Anderson has also caused our district to become more fiscally responsible and is not afraid to make difficult decisions for the betterment of our schools. Additionally, Dr. Anderson has suggested and implemented various programs to improve the performance of our schools and has enlisted the assistance of outside professionals to identify and prioritize issues which must be addressed in the most effective and efficient manner.

Should AJUSD have the meet and confer process for employees? Why or why not?: Through the use of committees which make recommendations on various topics, the AJUSD already relies on a “meet and confer” process. However, I believe any “meet and confer” policy must contain enough flexibility so that our governing board can listen to the input of staff but not be a means by which our hands would be tied. Specifically, the governing board has a duty to consider the input of our employees, administration, students and parents and make decisions which are in the best interests of the school district as a whole.

What can the school board do to attract parents to enroll their children at Apache Junction Unified School District?: There are many things the school board can do to attract new families to AJUSD. Initially, the board must work cooperatively, illustrate a united front and support the decisions of the majority. Additionally, the school board must take steps to increase the ratings of each individual school, improve our test scores, provide more choices with respect to classes and programs which are offered at the high school and give students greater access to EVIT. Moreover, upgrading our facilities and improving our sports programs and extracurricular activities would also serve to attract new families. Finally, continuing to attract and retain dedicated, quality teachers will only serve to motivate parents to move into Apache Junction.

The Apache Junction Independent is mailed each month to 35,000 homes.

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