Ogden School Board District 4 candidates focus on teachers, access

Monday , April 16, 2018 - 5:15 AM1 comment

OGDEN — Two Weber State University employees and an engineer have filed to run for the Ogden School Board of Education District 4 seat. The trio will face off at the June 26 primaries.

Sunni Wilkinson, Iain Hueton and Sheldon Cheshire are all running for office for the first time. The two candidates with the most votes will appear on the November ballot. The District 4 seat is currently occupied by Jeff Heiner, Ogden School Board of Education president.

Cheshire, 43, is the coordinator of leadership programs at Weber State University. He said the $106.5 million bond that failed last year was one of the reasons he decided to run for office. The school board, Cheshire said, was not as transparent as it should have been communicating details of the bond.

He said he would approve of a new bond that “will actually meet the needs of the students.” If elected, he said he wants to figure out why Ogden School District is losing so many students.

“As a community (we) need to be able to start discussing what are the reasons why parents are not sending their kids to Ogden City schools,” Cheshire said. “We are losing the students because we are losing the teachers.”

Wilkinson, 40, is an English adjunct professor at Weber State. If elected, she said she will make equality and access to education her main priorities.

“I think all students in the district should have access to nice facilities, high quality teachers and technology, and small, manageable classes,” Wilkinson said. “For me, the teachers are at the core part of my kids’ education.”

Two of her three sons go to Taylor Canyon Elementary, one of the schools that was part of the school district’s school consolidation plan presented earlier this year. She said school consolidation is also something that sparked an interest in running.

“I think something needs to be done because you have eight of the nine elementary schools getting older now,” Wilkinson said. “It looks like overall the information I’ve been given is that some schools will have to close.”

Hueton, 57, is a product development engineer based in Ogden. He said his desire to protect neighborhood based schools was one of the main reasons why he is running for the first time. He is also concerned about the teacher exodus.

“I don’t feel we are advancing rapidly enough to serve the Ogden community,” Hueton said. “We lose an awful lot of people and I see that with friends … that bothers me, that we are losing people and that we haven’t been able to raise our standards.”

He said he’d like to focus more on providing support to teachers in the school district as opposed to just focusing on infrastructure repairments.

“I feel there’s not enough autonomy for teachers to do what they do best: teach,” Hueton said. “It’s teachers that have a direct impact in student success. I think there’s a lot of opportunities to improve how teachers are empowered.”

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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