Candidate Questionnaire: Amy Bhola speaks with Arizona Daily Star
At the invitation of the Arizona Daily Star, Amy Bhola submitted these responses to their candidate questionnaire. As the Daily Star writes: "To give voters a better sense of who is on the Nov. 8 ballot, the Star sent a brief questionnaire to candidates for local, state, and federal offices. Their responses, unedited and as submitted to the Star, are in the collection below." You can find all of the responses on the Daily Star's website. Amy Bhola's responses are below.
2022 elections: Candidate questionnaire: Amy Bhola for Catalina Foothills School District Governing Board
Basic biographical information:
Name: Amy Bhola
Office they are seeking: Catalina Foothills School District Governing Board
City of residence: Tucson
Occupation: Retired teacher
Education: B.A. in Education (University of Arizona, 1989); Masters of Education (Northern Arizona University)
Previous elected office: Governing Board, Catalina Foothills Unified School District No. 16 (2014; 2018)
Other relevant qualifications: In addition to my BA and an MA in education, I taught math and science for 11 years. Working in three school districts across two states allowed me to gain first-hand knowledge of how effective strategic planning and high-quality curriculum fosters excellence in instruction and achievement. However, I believe my volunteer investment in our CFSD schools over the past 16 years may be my most important qualification. In addition to the 8 years I have served on the CFSD Governing Board, I have dedicated countless hours to our schools and district; in the classroom, on committees and the FFO (Family Faculty Organization), and on the Foundation Board. And from the onset of my teaching career, I have volunteered on initiatives focused on supporting students and teachers through adequate funding for public education and equal opportunities for all Arizona students.
1. What do you see as the most important issue to address and how would you address it?
The role of a school board member is to work collaboratively with other board members to set policy and goals that provide educational opportunities for students, to communicate effectively with stakeholders (community, parents, students, staff), and to serve as an advocate for students.
I believe the biggest threat to our district is the state legislature, due to the ongoing war many legislatures are waging on public education and have been for more than 30 years. My pipe dream for the state, and it’s been the same one since I started teaching here in 1994, is that Arizona decides to prioritize the 80% of our children who attend public schools. The sad reality is that we live in a state where the legislature and other elected officials do not value public education or educators and choose to ignore necessary education funding, even in surplus years. This is despite an electorate who has demonstrated time and again that public education should be a top priority.
As an advocate for students, my role as a governing board member is to use my voice both to educate parents and constituents about state funding issues so they can become advocates for funding our schools and to personally remain an advocate at the state level throughout the legislative year.
2. Why should voters choose you, rather than other candidates?
Students come first. In the eight years I’ve been on the school board, ensuring that students come first in decision-making has been my top priority. In CFSD, the goal of the administration and board has always been to keep funding realities as far away from students as possible. To make this successful, class size needs to be manageable, student curriculum needs to be rich and diverse, and teachers need to be treated like the professionals they are. I understand that the single biggest impact on educational excellence for a child is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. This calls for the professionals and the profession of teaching to be elevated to the level it deserves. To do this, I will prioritize investing in our teachers and providing the resources they need.
I’m running together with Gina Mehmert and Amy Krauss for CFSD’s Governing Board because we all believe every student deserves an equal opportunity to thrive. You do not have to look very far to find that our three opponents are endorsed by groups who have openly stated that their agenda is not about the students and that they do not support expanded funding for public schools. They have espoused support of empowerment scholarships, refocusing capital which would defund some of our CFSD students, and an allegiance to Purple for Parents’ platform (as stated in Desert Leaf’s October edition). Purple for Parents is a group who does not support public education or public school educators and so our opponents desire to align with them is baffling.
Electing me, Amy Bhola, as well as my colleagues Amy Krauss and Gina Mehmert, will ensure that you have board members who believe students are the most important priority. CFSD is the #1 non-selective district in the state and we are committed to continuing and building upon that excellence.
3. Could you please provide a list of the people and organizations that have endorsed you?
I have not sought political endorsements because school district governing board elections are non-partisan; however, LD18 Democrats are supporting a number of non-partisan school board candidates, including me. Endorsements by my 100+ individual supporters are listed on my campaign website. I also encourage you to watch the many video testimonials I’ve received at www.thrive4cfd.org/testimonials.