Candidates make pitch at forum

Published 12:59 am Friday, October 16, 2009

SELMA — School board candidates congregated at a forum sponsored by the Delta Pi Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at the Performing Arts Center Thursday night. The election is scheduled for Oct. 27.

Candidates from Districts 1, 2, 3,4 and at-large positions were invited to speak at this forum. Because of the number of candidates, district discussions covered only two questions.

The first question pertained to the early college program in high schools. District 4 candidate Frances Coles believes not enough people know about the program, which hinders other potential students.

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“Then the masses are left behind without the opportunity to educate them,” Coles said.

“I feel that the early college program has been abused,” said Debra Reeves-Howard, District 4 candidate. Reeves-Howard feels students who deserve and qualify for the program are not always considered for enrollment.

“The problem started when we said ‘how do we meet the numbers of the test scores?’” said District 1 candidate Dr. Kiri Chapatwala. Students who could produce better scores might have been chosen over others, according to Chapatwala.

The program is designed for first generation college-bound students to aid in furthering their academic achievement, among other requirements.

“I think it’s a program that was well thought-out,” said Kimesha ‘Sunshine’ Alvarado, District 2 candidate. “But we can’t pick and choose who gets to do the program.”

Not only should programs like early college continue to improve, but funding should also be considered for more career tech programs, according to District 3 candidate Frank Chestnut.

Candidates also discussed manners to deal with proration for this year. “We might have to ask for volunteers,” said District 2 candidate James Terry. “If you ask people, they’ll help.”

Rebalancing funding is not a new task for the school board, according to District 3 candidate Margaret Hardy. “We deal with that all the time, being short on money,” Hardy said. “We just have to figure out the best way to spend our funding.”

All at large candidates Ben Givan, Barbara Hiouas, Henry Hicks, Coley Chestnut, Anne Fitts, Kobi Little also spoke at the forum. At large candidates all expressed a concern for finding ways to lower the dropout rate and equip all classrooms with proper technology.