Two incumbents seek re-election to the Hartford Union High School (HUHS) board while two challengers seek to join the board.
The general elections of April 5. Incumbents Tina Pridemore and Craig Westfall are seeking new board terms while Heather Barrie and Don Pridemore seek to join the board. The top two voters in the election will be elected to the Board of Directors.
The four candidates recently responded to questions submitted by the Express News.
How long have you lived in the neighborhood? Barrie has been a district resident for 25 years, Don Pridemore has been a district resident for 31 years and a taxpayer for 40 years. Tina Pridemore has been a resident of Hartford for seven years and is part of a family that has lived in the area for decades, while Westfall has been a resident of the district for 19 years,
What made you decide to get elected/re-elected to the school board?
In response to the question, Don Pridemore said, “The decline in HUHS academic achievement at the same time the school board voted 4 to 1 to support a $12 million referendum for outdoor sports fields and courts . Where are their priorities? Could this explain why we are losing students to nearby high schools like Slinger? »
In response to the question, Tina Pridemore said, “The latest DPI report card shows HUHS scores of 59.2 on math, reading and English basics. We need to improve our academic performance before investing in outdoor sports fields and tennis courts. More students leave HUHS than are attracted to it because of improved athletic facilities.
In response to the question, Westfall said, “I am seeking a second term after being nominated in October 2018 and elected in April 2019. My passion is to help provide our young people with the best experiences possible, both at the school and outside. I want to pursue the goal of making Hartford Union High School a secondary destination. I have helped implement many changes during my tenure that move HUHS forward. As an active and involved board member, school parent, community member and neighbor, I want to continue the work I started to see these changes flourish. There is still work to be done, and my experience and dedication will help achieve these goals.
In response to the question, Barrie said, “As a parent, I collectively spent 39 years in the HUHS system advocating for my three children through their school journeys. Along this journey, we have encountered obstacles, challenges, and less than desirable situations. As advocates for my children, we have worked around obstacles, faced challenges head-on, and turned less than desirable situations into viable solutions, all for the betterment of my children’s education. My passion for education and my commitment to advocating for the student body is the reason I am seeking election to the HUHS School Board. »
What two or three issues facing the district are you currently concerned about?
In response to the question, Don Pridemore said, “Academic success does not appear to be a priority for the school board, even though only about 40% of careers today require a college degree. The once-proud tech services wing has also fallen out of favor. We need tech jobs like welders that pay very well in today’s manufacturing market.
In response to the question, Westfall said, “We have implemented block programming this school year and we need to continue to develop it because it will have a positive impact on our academics. Being in its first year, there were a few hiccups and a learning curve, but changes are on the way for next year. Staffing will continue to be an issue, as everywhere else. We must strive to retain good staff and seek new effective teachers. If we can accomplish these things, then we will show improvement.
In response to the question, Barrie said: “General: falling grades, low morale, settling for mediocrity, complacency, dumbing down of education. National: Grades 9-12 with average fifth-grade reading. (Also,) Freshmen requiring remedial English and Mathematics. District: HUHS Report Card Score 59.2 – “Meets Expectations” (Min 58); (“Meets low expectations” Max 57.9). Overall just “meets expectations”.
In response to the question, Tina Pridemore said, “The biggest problem is poor academic achievement. Emphasis must be placed on basic courses in mathematics, reading and English if academic success is to be improved. What better way to start would be for the school board to constructively pressure the HUHS administration to come up with a plan and strategy to make improving student achievement a number one priority.
She then added, “The second issue that will be on the ballot is the $12 million referendum. I was the only school board (member) to vote against taxpayer funding of outdoor sports fields and courts. We do not need to impose this burden on our taxpayers, especially in this time of high inflation. I fail to see the reasoning behind this referendum when HUHS is doing so poorly in academics. The cost will be much higher with rising interest rates and the long-term maintenance of new sports fields and courts.
She further stated: “The third issue – Medical freedom for parents to choose to mask or unmask and whether or not to vaccinate their children. Transparency is another issue: parents should always have the right to know what is being taught and what media sources are used in the classroom.
What else do you want voters to know that hasn’t been mentioned?
In response to the question, Westfall said, “My time on the HUHS school board has been incredibly busy and challenging, especially with the superintendent transition and Covid, but I’ve met every obstacle head-on and I’m proud of the accomplished job. As current Vice Chair of the Board and former Clerk, I have had 100% ATTENDANCE at all of my Board related activities, including many responsibilities outside of monthly meetings, since day one. . As an elected official, it is my duty to be active and involved in my role.
He then added: “My seat on the board is a priority and I have been completely dedicated to it. Here are some accomplishments during my tenure:
Superintendent interview and hiring
· Had in-person and live learning options last year and kept school open
Modified graduation requirements to ensure students are career, college and citizenship ready
Provided online parental access to course syllabi and lessons, improving transparency
Made significant improvements inside the school that impact all students, at no additional cost to taxpayers
· Increased school safety thanks to the installation of the WAVE system throughout the building
· Participation in several committees with students, staff, parents and community businesses. »
He added, “I’m a corporate account manager at MEC and have been involved in manufacturing for most of my career. I am also a proud trustee of the Jack Russell Memorial Library Board and was recently appointed by the county to the Monarch Library System Board of Trustees, representing 31 libraries in 4 counties, and its finance. I have a deep understanding of politics, budget, negotiations, contracts and communication. »
Westfall then added, “I am just a hardworking father who wants to see our young people succeed and our school excel while working within our means. I’m a strategic thinker, strong in a group setting, unafraid to ask the tough questions, financially smart, and an involved parent. I consistently show up and have taken actions that move Hartford Union High School in the right direction. Make sure you know the candidate you are voting for. I would appreciate your vote for CRAIG WESTFALL on Tuesday April 5th!
In response to the question, Don Pridemore said, “When the referendum fails, what will the supporters do? I hope they will sit down with current and new board members to come up with a list of actions to take to improve academic success. Focusing on the basics can be a start. Study where the weaknesses are and fix them before thinking about another referendum attempt.
In response to the question, Tina Pridemore said, “I will also fight to prevent the teaching of CRT (Critical Race Theory) and Common Core in the classroom.”
In response to the question, Barrie said, “Let’s strive to exceed a student’s potential and don’t settle for mediocrity. Let’s teach a student’s strength instead of letting their weakness or weaknesses hold them back. Educate every child to their full potential. Let’s inspire students to learn because as you know, we never stop learning!
-Compiled by Thomas J. McKillen, Editor