Ogden School Board: Teacher seeks to replace Belnap

Oct 28 2012 - 3:05pm

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Don Belnap
David Tanner
Don Belnap
David Tanner

OGDEN -- The Ogden School District 1 race pits an experienced school board member and board president, Don Belnap, against an experienced Weber School District teacher, David Tanner.

Incumbent Belnap, 53, is a financial planner. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. He earned a bachelor of science degree at Weber State University, and has completed additional studies and certificates related to his financial planning career. Belnap is in his second four-year term on the Ogden School Board.

Challenger Tanner, 45, is a fifth grade teacher at Roy's North Park Elementary School. He and his wife have three children.

Tanner earned a bachelor of science degree at Weber State, with a dual certification in elementary education and special education.

Belnap said he would like to continue the successful work he has begun in the Ogden School District.

"Ogden School District is no longer one of the lowest-performing districts in the state, and is demonstrating great improvements in proficiency and increased graduation rates," Belnap said. "These results are not because of one or two changes, but many upgrades over the last years.

"I've been part of the selection process of hiring two great superintendents, the prior (Noel R. Zabriskie) and the current (Brad Smith) superintendents, who were needed at the time to move the school district forward."

Belnap said he was also proud of his and the board's part in building three new elementary schools, and the restoration and renovation of Ogden and Ben Lomond high schools. He is also proud of actions the board took to increase savings and become more financially sound.

Tanner believes the current board has not done right by its teachers.

"Priority number one would be to get out to the teachers and mend some fences," Tanner said. "The teachers that are left after the contract negotiations are frustrated and angry."

Tanner referred to the summer 2011 decision by the district to require teachers to sign a non-negotiated contract or to be replaced. He said district teachers may not be aware that elements of the 2011 contract, such as changing how a teacher's value was judged, were part of a larger state and national trend toward re-evaluation.

"Ogden was jumping on the band wagon, but the way they did it was wrong, so fences need to be mended," Tanner said.

Tanner also believes the district has forced all its schools to follow the same formula for increasing test scores, regardless of a school's individual needs.

"They've been buying a lot of programs in Ogden, and my understanding is the latest one is working," he said. "But if each school was allowed to find its own program, more would be more willing to jump on the bandwagon, and my feeling is that success would increase."

Belnap said he is the best candidate for the job because he is already doing it well.

"If things are improving, why would you change course midstream?" he said. "I've been fortunate to spend a lot of time and energy, and use my talents to help things move forward. Over the last eight years, we've had change and improvement. I still have fire in my belly to carry on, and I believe my experience will be beneficial to the Ogden School District, the students of the district and the citizens of Ogden."

Tanner counters that he is the best candidate due to his experience.

"What qualifies me over my opponent is my many years in the education business," he said. "I have a pretty good idea of what should be going on. I believe there's been a lot of miscommunication in the past, simply because the value of teachers wasn't communicated.

"It's not that I believe the Ogden School Board doesn't value teachers, it's that they aren't communicating well. I think I would add some valuable insights the board hasn't had in the past."

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