Oct 19, 2023
By: Katherine Trowbridge
The North Franklin School District Board of Directors, District 1, Position 1 has been held by incumbent Patricia (Pattie) Walker who now faces opponent, Ciera Valdez.
Walker, a former educator, is knowledgeable on all aspects of the district.
Valdez feels it is important for parents to have a voice.
Patti Walker (incumbent) has served the North Franklin School District in a variety of ways since she came in 1980 to teach here. Her role as a school board representative began in 2016. Walker shared, “I’ve been at all of the schools. I taught at Connell Elementary, one year at Basin City Elementary, one year at Mesa Elementary, and spent the majority of my career at the junior high. While I never taught at the high school, I was involved in a number of areas at the high school level assisting my husband, Bill, who served as Athletic Director from ticket taking to coaching.”
Walker taught for 33 years and her husband for 35 years all at NFSD. Their kids all graduated from Connell High School. Bill (her son) is the CHS principal and Tom (her other son) and his wife both teach in the district. Her grandchildren have also gone to school here in the district.
“We Walker’s have been involved with the North Franklin School District forever, or so it seems,” she said.
While teaching, Walker also served as president of the teachers union. “I know a lot. I have 40 years of a steep learning curve” she shared, “I’m pretty knowledgeable on what goes on in the schools and feel like I’m an asset to the board because of my experience in the district. I know how the schools and district operate and what the goals and objectives are.”
The district is entering a levy year with the ballot going to the voters in February. Walker shared, “Funding is a pretty important issue. The community members have been terrific in supporting our schools district and the district has been fiscally responsible in only asking for what we need to run the district. The levy is coming and I hope our community will continue to support our schools.”
Walker stated she represents the voters as well as she can. She generally gets out into the community but hadn’t been able to due to her husband’s health concerns. He passed away earlier this fall. She expressed her commitment to the families and the district and said she is always open to have a conversation with the voters.
Speaking of the things going on in the district, Walker expressed how the high school has a 98% graduation rate, one of the highest in the state. She went on to state how “the CDL program is just fabulous. We’re the only district doing it. Here we are making headlines. There’s a lot happening in this district and I’m pretty proud of it.”
“I hope voters know I’ve given a lot to this district and that I fully intent to do so into the future,” she said, “The district is really important to me. I will do everything I can to support the district, its teachers, kids, and the community. There’s a lot going on in this district. We have great staff, a great board, and a great superintendent who all care about the students and families they serve.”
Ciera Valdez wanted to provide "a fresh perspective on being somebody who would represent the younger generation". She went on to state, "I'm hoping my running will inspire younger generations of parents to get involved. I just think that if they see a younger person, like somebody who's at the same level as them in their life. And you know, like a 20-something year old mom, almost 30, with kids - They see me and they’ll be inspired to take more action and be more open to say yes to the levy and yes to supporting the school than yesterday. To help you support the parents and that people can see that they can get involved, even though you know, we’re younger. I just want more people who are just the next generation ... and I just think it’s time for us to take the next step up and be more involved.”
As a Hispanic, Valdez, hopes she can be an inspiration to the Hispanic community to bring something to the table and get involved. She also hopes to be a voice for them to feel heard. “I want to be part of the people that helped them be heard.”
In representing the voters she shared, “I would listen to their wants, needs, concerns and bring them to the table so that everybody can listen.”
She continued, “I want everybody to be heard, whether you’re on all walks of life and all races. I want everybody to be heard, but I’m hoping that me being Hispanic and Latino will help bring out more of the Hispanic community in supporting the schools, and voting yes for the schools, and specifically more actions.”
While Valdez’s experience has been as a student (graduate of CHS) and a parent of students, she added, “I want to learn more about inside the district, what goes on in the North Franklin School District so I can make the community more aware. I want to learn the ins and outs. I want to know everything that goes on. Yes, I do want to take the time to learn all aspects of it and find ways that, by being there, my decisions and my influence will help both parents and students. Because that’s a huge part of what makes the North Franklin School District - the students, parents, the teachers, counselors, all of that is just a big part.”
She continued, “And I feel like the world is always changing. And you know, the more as time goes on, the school needs different things like we’re needing more safety in schools these days. We need more safety on both ends. Even the teachers need to feel safe at work and have places to be open and have open communication within the district and the school board. I want people to not be afraid to come to us with their problems. I want to be more involved so they feel comfortable coming to me when they feel like there’s something that needs to be said but they don’t really want to be the ones to say it.”