Washington County School Board: District 1 candidates speak to advancement, preparing for future

WASHINGTON COUNTY – Three positions are up for election on the Washington County School Board this year. The open seats are for Districts 1, 2, and 3 of the seven school board districts in the county.

St. George News contacted the school board candidates and asked each questions concerning what they would like to see improved in the school district, as well as what is their primary focus for running for the school board. Their answers have been received through interviews and email.  In this article, the candidates for District 1 are featured.

In District 1, Barbara Beckstrom platforms from extensive experience as an educator and ancillary participation in school related and other community boards, she advocates qualified teachers and implementation of current technology in the classroom. Her opponent, Jerry Olson hails from administrative and management education and experience. Proposing that new blood is vital to the school board, he also offers a broader perspective – stronger emphasis in math and science education, he proposes, will not only benefit the students but equip them to impact the local economy as well.

Barbara Beckstrom, St. George, Utah, date unknown | Photo courtesy of Barbara Beckstrom

Barbara Beckstrom

Beckstrom provided the following statement:

“My name is Barbara Beckstrom and I am running for the Washington County School Board in District 1. I live in Santa Clara and also have a home in Pine Valley.   I am the mother of five children and now the grandmother of fifteen.  All children attended and all local grandchildren now attend Washington County area public schools.”

Beckstrom’s background in education includes having taught fourth and fifth grade at Bloomington Elementary School for 20 years, as well as being a staff developer. She has also been an active member of the Parent Teachers Association for many years, as well as serving as PTA president at Santa Clara Elementary and Dixie High School. She retired from the school district in 2007.

Beckstrom has also served two terms as a member of the Santa Clara City Council, served as chairwoman of the Washington County Solid Waste Board for five years, and served on the Washington County Fair Executive Board for one term.

Question: What programs or items would you like to see improved/implemented in the school district?

Answer: I feel that the top priority for the district is to keep our schools well maintained and up-to-date with the latest technology that will optimize our student’s learning.  Technological advances need to be a big part of our focus:  Smartboards, Elmos, computer accessibility for individual students, responders, mimeos, and white boards are just some of the advances that need to be available to teachers in the classrooms.  Teachers also need to be provided the training necessary so that they are comfortable using the latest technology that will support student learning.

Question: What would you describe as the primary focus/issue of your campaign for the school board?

Answer: My primary focus is to ensure that our children receive the quality education necessary to compete in the increasingly complex world that we live in today.  In order to do that the district must employ only highly qualified teachers and staff and then give them the support needed to translate that experience to the schools and classrooms.  Research shows that the single most important factor in determining the quality of a child’s education is having a highly qualified teacher.  Our children deserve the best teachers and staff.

Jerry Olson, St. George, Utah, date unknown | Photo courtesy of Jerry Olson

Jerry Olson

Jerry Olson is a licensed healthcare administrator and the general manager of the Kolob Care and Rehabilitation Center, an industry he has been involved in for 15 years. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University’s Marriot School of Management, and is married with five children.

Olson currently serves on the community council for his children’s school, and is involved in the PTA, in which he served as the legislative vice president for a time.

“As my children have become older, I have become increasingly involved in the education that takes place in our district,” Olson wrote on his website. “… New times demand new leadership.  Vote for the future, not the past.  I can provide the leadership necessary to take our school district into the new century.”

Question: What programs or items would you like to see improved/implemented in the school district?

Answer: Olson said he would like to see more emphasis placed on math and science. Currently, St. George does not have a very diverse economy because there is not an adequately trained workforce that would entice companies to consider the city a viable location for expansion.

“A well-educated workforce draws bigger, more stable companies,” Olson said. “Having that educated workforce lends to a healthy economy.”

“There also needs to be more community involvement,” he said, though he added that both the school board and the community could do better: The board could do a better job of reaching out to the public, while the public could also engage the school board a bit more.

Question: What would you describe as the primary focus/issue of your campaign for the school board?

The standards of education need to be raised, Olson said, new blood needs to be injected into the school board. “The main thing we need is a fresh and expanded vision (in the school district),” he said.

Olson said he wasn’t criticizing longtime board members, but said that when someone serves in public office for a long time, “it’s hard to see outside of the box.”

For additional information, visit Jerry Olson’s website.

District 1 covers the following voter precincts:

Santa Clara #SC71, Santa Clara #SC72, Santa Clara #SC73, Santa Clara #SC74, Ivins #IV76, Ivins #IV77, Ivins #IV78, Ivins #IV79, Veyo #VE80.01, Brookside #VE80.02, Gunlock #VE80.03, Enterprise #EN82.01, Outside Enterprise #EN82.02, Dammeron Valley #DAV83, Central #CE91.01, Dixie Deer #CE91.02 and Pine Valley #CE91.03

Washington County School Board districts:

STGN-Washington County School Board District Map-20120130- pdf


Related articles:


Washington County School Board: District 2 candidates tout experience, accountability – District 2 Candidates: Craig Seegmiller and Jill Hunt


Washington County School Board: District 3 candidates on better communication, teacher support – District 3 Candidates: Aaron Randall and Debbie Zockoll



Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @MoriKessler
Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2012, all rights reserved

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