School board elections are supposed to be nonpartisan, but in this wildly contentious political season during a pandemic, emotions are running high.
Area schools haven’t seen an ordinary day in many months. Kyrene’s middle school students finally returned to in-person learning Oct. 13.
Five candidates, including one incumbent, are vying for three seats on the Kyrene Governing Board.
Michael Myrick, the president of the board, is not seeking re-election, instead running for the Tempe Union High School District board.
Each member of the Kyrene Governing Board is elected to serve a staggered four-year term so that every two years, two or three positions are up for re-election during the November general election, which this year is Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Board candidates must reside within district boundaries for one year prior to being elected. Arizona law does not limit the number of terms a board member may serve. The governing board is authorized under Arizona law to adopt all needed policies and regulations for the organization, evaluation and governance in the district.
Meet the candidates
Jose Ivan Alfaro is the father of four Kyrene students.
Though he did not respond to a Wrangler News request for a statement, the Maricopa County Superintendent website contains information about Alfaro.
It reads: “Ivan has a personal interest in contributing to an educational community that provides and supports the academic, social, and emotional needs of his and all children. He believes an effective school board member commits to a vision of high expectations for student achievement and quality instruction and establishes clear goals and guardrails toward that vision. He has strong beliefs and values about what’s possible for students and their ability to learn, and of the system and its ability to teach all children at high levels.”
Alfaro is an executive director for a national education company.
Michelle Fahy has been an educator for 36 years and is running for a second term on the Kyrene Governing Board.
“I understand the needs of students and demands placed on the district and will support and advocate for students and staff to ensure we provide the best education possible,” Fahy told Wrangler News. “I bring my teaching experience to complex decision-making, ask tough questions, seek thorough and transparent answers, and strive for excellence. I believe in our community and want to ensure that Kyrene continues to be worthy of our strong reputation of quality schools.”
Fahy said that her connections to the Tempe Union High School District—she is TUHSD instructional technology coordinator—mean that she is in a unique position to encourage continuity between students’ elementary and high school experiences.
Wanda Kolomyjec is a former business executive, high school teacher, and now a professor at Arizona State University in the Justice Studies program.
She and her family have lived in the Kyrene district for 26 years and feel indebted for the excellent start in their children’s education that Kyrene provided. Their oldest daughter is a surgical resident, their youngest daughter a third-year law school, and their son a junior in ASU’s esteemed School of Sustainability.
Kolomyjec said she hopes to “help keep Kyrene a strong public-education district that serves all families.”
Triné Nelson is a curriculum manager at ASU and the mother of two Kyrene students.
She said her extensive volunteer experiences within the district have allowed her to see the strengths, diversity and specific needs in Kyrene.
“I believe that it’s critical that board members are able to lean in, listen, and then engage with the community so that the values of the community’s values and priorities are represented,” Nelson said. “Throughout my career, I’ve been able to demonstrate the ability to identify priorities to successfully work with large groups often who have diverse viewpoints to work together to build consensus to achieve a common goal. I hope to be able to bring those same skills to the Kyrene Governing Board with a driven, balanced, and collaborative approach.”
Margaret Wright has lived in the Kyrene School District for nine years and says her three children have “greatly benefited” from their education through Kyrene.
“I have spent extensive time volunteering in classrooms and serving with the PTO as a board member, committee chair, and PTO president which has helped to spark a deep desire to continue to give back to this community,” Wright said. “I am an adjunct biology professor and a business owner with my husband. I understand the importance education can make in determining one’s livelihood and ability to thrive and I want to make a difference in the educational lives of our students.”