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Three School Board seats up for grabs in Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa Candidates-2.jpg
Courtesy photos
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Santa Rosa County School Board candidates, Carol Boston, Linda Sanborn, Scott Peden, and Pete Peters. Candidates Gregory Seltzer, Wayne Patterson and Alisabeth Janai Lancaster did not respond to the questionnaire.

Three seats on the Santa Rosa County School Board are on the Aug. 23 primary ballot.

Two incumbents, Linda Sanborn, who represents District 1, is challenged by Wayne Patterson, and Carol Boston, the District 3 incumbent, is challenged by Alisabeth Janai Lancaster.

The District 5 seat is open and has three candidates — Scott Peden, Pete Peters and Gregory Seltzer — seeking to replace Wei Ueberschaer who is not running for reelection. The four-year term has an annual salary of $38,720.

WUWF posed these questions to each candidate. Here are their emailed responses:

Why should Santa Rosa County voters elect you to the School Board?

Sanborn: I am highly qualified for this position. I am retired after teaching 35 years in Florida public schools. The last 28 of those were in Santa Rosa County at Milton High School. I hold a Master's Degree in Education in Curriculum and Instruction. Additionally, I am co-owner and Vice-President of Adventures Unlimited Outdoor Center, so I bring business experience to the position. I have lived in Santa Rosa County for 43 years so I am familiar with the culture and unique characteristics of our county. My husband of 50 years and I raised three sons. All were educated in our public schools. And, five of our eight grandchildren currently are attending SRC schools. Clearly I have the qualifications, experience and commitment to ensure that our schools are the best they possibly can be.

Boston: I am a constitutional conservative and I support positive outcomes for all students. I am a strong
advocate for Career Academies and Career and Technical Education. Through my advocacy,
students earned nearly 2,100 industry certifications in the 2020/21 school year.

I am increasing Santa Rosa County educational opportunities with additional schools. During my
tenure we have purchased four properties, completed our district’s first K-8 school, broke ground on the second and are in the design phase for a new High School.

I strongly support teachers and have worked with my fellow board members to increase pay
annually; during my tenure teachers have received an average cumulative increase of over 20%.

Peden: Experience: I served on the School Board 2010-2018. The hard work by the Board helped the District through some tough financial times. Also, the Board approved to have the Board meetings streamed live and recorded. Additionally, we conducted more meetings in the evenings and began having meetings in the South end of the county. My experience in my career of creating and executing multi-million-dollar budgets and personnel management enabled me to make the right decisions.

Peters: School security is of paramount concern in today’s culture. My extensive experience and training in dealing with international terrorism has prepared me for such a time as this. I was an aux police officer and firearms instructor. I was also a counterterrorism instructor with SAIC out of LSU’s Academy of Counter Terrorism Education.

I have taught and coached in 3 local high schools for 22 years. I believe that gives me a better insight into the culture of our area and the needs of our students and parents.

This Marxist radical and false ideology called CRT, or whatever is being forced on our students and is threatening the future of our country. If we are to remain a representative constitutional republic, it needs to be stopped.

I have proven leadership experience as a Marine officer of 21 years. As a Marine pilot and an airline pilot people trusted me with multimillion-dollar aircraft and their lives. I am a problem solver not a career politician. Parents need to take back control of their kids’ education.

What are your three top priorities to address in the next four years. Feel free to include details where necessary.

Sanborn: 1) Ensure additional security in our schools. This will be implemented by hiring "Guardians," highly trained and fully vetted individuals who will be armed and ready to protect the students, teachers and staff of our schools.

2) Encourage involvement and participation by our parents and guardians. We will be setting up programs such as a district-wide advisory committee to give our parents more opportunities to be involved and invested in their students' education.

3) Hire and retain high quality teachers and staff. The best way to accomplish this is to raise teacher salaries and increase their benefits.

Boston: School Safety: Worked with our sheriff, Bob Johnson, to enable our county to have the first armed and trained, School Resource Officer (SRO) at every Santa Rosa School. Innovative Local Partnerships: Focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) but also blue collar certifications. Through my advocacy, students earned nearly 2,100 industry certifications in the 2020/21 school year. Fiscal Responsibility: I have increased transparency in our budget to the point Santa Rosa school system received the CivicCon Government Transparency Award. I am working on further improvements, always with an eye toward student development as the priority.

Peden: 1) Ensure additional security in our schools. This will be implemented by hiring "Guardians," highly trained and fully vetted individuals who will be armed and ready to protect the students, teachers and staff of our schools. 2) Encourage involvement and participation by our parents and guardians. We will be setting up programs such as a district-wide advisory committee to give our parents more opportunities to be involved and invested in their students' education. 3) Hire and retain high quality teachers and staff. The best way to accomplish this is to raise teacher salaries and increase their benefits.

Peters: We need to get back to a classic American curriculum … the curriculum that built the world’s greatest generation. It was all about Education not indoctrination. That is Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, along with the true history of our great nation, which includes civics, the study of history, government and economics. You cannot love or respect something you know nothing about. We learn from history … we do not dwell on it.

Parents are the shareholders of the education system and deserve to be heard; teachers are the backbone and should be well paid and provided with job security.

Last but not least: Safety. We need to protect our most precious possessions … our future … our children. We need to support the RSO program and enhance and improve the guardian program. We need to think FIRST PREVENTER not first responder. We need to upgrade the physical security of our existing schools. We live in a dangerous time with too many evil cowards running around.

Please rate the performance of Dr. Karen Barber as superintendent.

Sanborn: I would give her the grade of A+. Dr. Barber is highly qualified, innovative and hard-working. She is also an empathetic listener to her staff, parents and students. She sets goals for the District and unwaveringly pursues those goals. We are extremely fortunate to have her as the Superintendent of Santa Rosa District Schools.

Boston: Partnership and relationship building is one of my greatest strengths and is imperative in creating a positive collaborative environment. I assess those relationships based on results; the following are some of the outcomes of our relationship: Santa Rosa County School District is one of just 14 “A” districts of 67 districts in Florida for the 2021/2022 school year; in our 5-year accreditation review SRCSD earned a 356.45 score, the average score is 255-288. We received the highest possible accreditation rating in 27 of 31 standards; due to increased transparency, SRCSD Superintendent received the CivicCon Government Transparency Award 2021.

Peters: As I have not had the opportunity to work with her I refrain on making a comment at this time.

Peden: As a School Board member, I will work with the Superintendent to ensure the success of our children. The voters of Santa Rosa County have the opportunity to rate the Superintendent's performance every four years.

Alisabeth Janai Lancaster, Wayne Patterson, and Gregory Seltzer did not respond to the questionnaire.

Tom Ninestine is the managing editor at WUWF. He began August 1, 2019. Tom is a native of Geneva, New York, and a 1983 graduate of King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he studied journalism and political science. During a 29-year career in newspapers he worked for the Finger Lakes Times in his hometown; The Daily Item in Sunbury, Pennsylvania; and the Pensacola News Journal from 1998-2016.