Ogden School Board District 2 race focuses on building upgrades, bond proposal

Wednesday , May 02, 2018 - 5:15 AM

OGDEN — If elected again in November, a current Ogden School District Board of Education member said he will “follow through” with getting a bond that will upgrade schools in the school district.

Incumbent Doug Barker will face Oscar Mata and David Smith, two first-time runners, in the school board primaries June 26 for the District 2 seat. The three candidates said they will focus on school upgrades and finding ways to retain students and teachers.

Barker, a teacher at South Ogden Junior High School, said he is committed to passing a new bond that would upgrade some of the deteriorating elementary school buildings in the area. He said that’s one of the reasons why parents are taking their kids out of the district.

“A lot of these kids are learning for the jobs of tomorrow,” Barker, 53, said. “With these old buildings, they can’t get these skills.”

He said he hopes the community and the school board works together in drafting a new bond that will receive the approval of voters.

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“Parents think new schools give a better education. They feel that way,” Barker said. “My opinion as a teacher is (that) the more invested the parent is in the student’s education, the better the education their child will receive.”

David Smith, 66, has been teaching at George Washington High School for 30 years. He is retiring this month. His nine kids, Smith said, graduated from Ben Lomond High School.

Smith said he is running because he wants to use his love for education to stay involved in the schools and the community.

“I worked with students at risk the entire time and I want to use my experience to help Ogden School District,” Smith said.

When asked if he supports consolidating schools, Smith said he will listen to the community but said he didn’t have “any opinions.”

“I haven’t been able to actually look at the numbers, so I am not informed,” Smith said. “I’ve heard the rumors.”

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Oscar Mata, 24, is a graduate from DaVinci Academy who is currently enrolled at Weber State University. He has been involved in local politics and owns a substance abuse prevention company.

He said he is concerned with the lack of transparency with the school board members, especially during last November’s failed $106.5 million bond proposal. He is also concerned about the exodus of students in the school district.

According to the Ogden School District, about 400 students have left the district since last school year.

“I want to work to make these schools a place where I want to send my kids, when I have kids,” Mata said.

Drug prevention and teacher salaries are other issues Mata said he would like to prioritize. He would also like to provide incentives to teachers for them to stay.

He said that, although he is in his 20s, his experience could benefit the school district.

“How many 24-year-olds have three successful companies?” Mata asked. “I obviously know how to manage a budget, how to manage a staff. My age is my asset.”

Contact Education Reporter Sergio Martínez-Beltrán at smartinezbeltran@standard.net or 801-625-4274. Follow him on Twitter @SergioMarBel and like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/STANDARDEXSergio.

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