On Tuesday, two very experienced candidates will face off for Seat H on the Lower Kuskokwim School District School Board. Retired teacher Michael Husa is challenging incumbent Clarence Daniel.
Both candidates have a vested interest in the future of the district.
“I am passionate about education,” said Clarence Daniel. “My mother was a teacher for over 20 years and I want what’s best for my children, as well as what’s best for all the other children in our district. In my perspective, children are first. For the children.”
“I’m a retired educator,” said Michael Husa. “I currently have three grandchildren. One who is in [school] and two who will be in the next few years. I’m already thrilled when I run into other students, whether they’re working for the store or if they’ve gone off to college. If they’re happy and they’re raising their family in a positive way and are able to support them, I always take great pride in that and I would like to see it continue.”
Husa served on the Professional Teaching Practices Commission for six years. He says that he has concerns about the effect the rebuilding of Ayaprun Elitnaurvik will have on school budgets in LKSD, as well as overall teacher retention. Husa would also like to see more students given support and mentorship in vocational trade skills as well as the four-year college track.
“Plenty of intelligent people choose not to go to college for a variety of reasons and lead very successful lives. I think when we push only college, kids often hear that they’re not valued,” said Husa.
Husa says the elimination of programs over the years has limited options for students, giving kids less reason to stay in school.
“When I started 25 years ago, most of the villages had bands, most of the villages had shop classes running, and we brought those kids in and we were able to educate them because they had an interest in some of those other classes that were valuable to them,” said Husa. “As I’ve said for a long time, it’s time to put some fun back into fundamental education.”
Clarence Daniel, the current Transportation Director for the Association of Village Council Presidents, served for four years on the LKSD School Board and for seven years prior to that on the Bethel Advisory School Board.
“One of the things that students came to the ASB about was the lack of a cafeteria, so that was one of the important things that we worked with, and now there’s the cafeteria under construction over by the high school," says Daniel.
Despite the challenges of depleted state funding for the district, Daniel says that he’s proud of the work he’s done while on the board to help implement a strategic thinking model to address future issues.
“That strategic thinking model includes the input of all levels at LKSD, from the Board all the way to students, and the input that comes into committees that work on the strategy come up with all the ideas and make them into goals and objectives to meet the key measures of the School Board,” said Daniel.
Next Tuesday, voters will choose either incumbent Clarence Daniel or challenger Michael Husa for Seat H on the LKSD Board.