Wasatch School Board Candidate Wants More Information From School District
Athena Koumarela is running for the Wasatch County School Board Midway seat against incumbent Tom Hansen. Koumarela wants to provide a reaction to the recent Wasatch School District Board of Education future school committee announcements and the sudden release of the controversial Bio West engineering study.
Koumarela who has concerns with the school board’s communication and transparency.
On Friday afternoon, the Wasatch County School Board of Education released a disputed Bio West wetlands delineation study. It was released to the public after the school board had earlier in the year, denied a public record request from the Wasatch Taxpayers Association. Along with this release a newer contracted Army Corp of Engineers study was announced providing a different wetlands assessment on the same potential high school property which had been purchased by the school district earlier in 2019. School Board candidate Athina Koumarela is concerned with the board’s communication and transparency to the public. The announcement was made in Thursday’s school board meeting, but the documents were not released until later Friday afternoon.
“The announcements made on Thursday’s meeting were big announcements and also announcements that all candidates were looking forward to hearing from whoever is elected on the school board. It was definitely a surprise because neither of those subject matters were put on the agenda prior to the meeting, so a lot of people did not even know that they were going to be on the agenda.”
In 2019, the $150 million school bond was voted down by Wasatch County. Koumarela says not enough public engagement occurred prior to the board’s decision to run a bond referendum. Superintendent Paul Sweat told KPCW on Friday, that the board plans to establish a future school’s community advisory task force to help guide their decisions about future school sites. Koumarela wants to see more information from the administration and the board.
“If you’re going to ask community members to be part of that decision making process, then the board, they would have to have choices based on comparisons of the pros and cons, in order to make an informed decision and include all the cost analysis of those options for the taxpayers to see what they're getting for their money. If the board wants more involvement of the community in the decision making process their role as leaders will have to evolve from selling the path on decision to fairly buying into a collaborative process of decision making.”
Koumarela says there are many qualified people who can actively contribute to the future school’s task force. She believes the existing board must clarify how people in the community can participate and she says transparency in this process is needed.
“It’s vague how people would be able to apply for that position on that committee. I’ve already had two people ask me well how do I get on that committee if you're elected? Well, that doesn't have to do with if I’m elected, it has to do with the structure that's put in place prior to the decision making of who's going to be on that committee. I would like the Superintendent to be more specific. They’re asking that the committee be in place by mid-January and they've gotten us all excited about it but then the details are not there. And, I think we need to have the details, how it's chosen and probably a public disclosure or announcement of who has applied and what are their expertise in the area or what do they want to accomplish by being on that committee.”