Elections 2017: Q & A with Owen ‘Lee’ Atkin, Moffat County school board District 4 candidate
How long have you been a resident of Moffat County?
What is your current job or employment status?
Dentist. I own Craig Family Dental.
What is your personal education?
Undergraduate college: Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah.
Doctor of Dental Medicine, DMD, University Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada.
What is your experience with local education?
Participated in a district PAC with previous superintendent. I have six kids in Moffat County Schools.
If elected, will you vote in December to close a school? Why or why not?
I think the district should be run as efficiently as possible. With the declining demographics of our county and enrollment, I think it makes sense to have optimal use of our facilities and redirect the savings from a school closure toward other needs.
If a school is closed, how do you think the money saved should be allocated?
1 — Meaningful academic and vocational programs that benefit students.
2 — Saving for future capital needs.
How do you think the district should meet capitol needs? Will you support going to voters to ask for a bond or a mill levy increase? Why or why not?
I think asking voters for a tax increase should be an option of last resort. Again, I would focus on optimizing the use of current revenue, capturing savings where we can and running as efficiently as possible. If it became necessary to raise money for a truly needed capital project, I would favor a bond issue over a property tax increase.
Do you think teacher pay should be increased, decreased or maintained? Why?
I think teachers do some of the most important work in our society. We should expect a lot from them, and they should be rewarded for it. I would not decrease pay — at least maintain and increase. if possible. Our district will need to be competitive to retain quality teachers.
Do you think staff pay should be increased, decreased or maintained? Why?
Maintained. I think staff compensation should be competitive in our local economy.
What one specific step do you think should be taken to help the district retain students lost to home schooling, online programs and/or other districts?
We need to create value in our district. Parents need to trust that the best educational outcomes will be in our classrooms. I also think meaningful vocational or trades program at the high school would attract students if they could leave high school with a marketable skill.
What specific steps should be taken to improve student performance?
I think, first, we need clearly defined goals of where we want to be. These goals should be made with collaboration and buy-in from parents, teachers, administration and the board. I think we should have high expectations and work hard to meet them. We also need to ensure teachers have the necessary resources and support to reach these goals.
Briefly state why voters should vote for you?
I am a father of eight kids, with six of them in our local schools. I want to see the school district continue on a good path and improve in areas where we can. I feel like I have the ability to hear arguments on both sides of an issue and make a sound, informed decision. I have a desire to be involved in my community and make a positive impact.