PASSION FOR CHANGE; EXPERTISE TO GET IT DONE
*** My deepest condolences go to the families of those who lost their lives in the recent Texas school shooting. May we all hug our kids and loved ones a little tighter and appreciate the time we have with them. ***
Hi, I'm Julie Powell. I’m an attorney with the highly regarded law firm of Kirton McConkie and my husband owns a pediatric dental practice. I've been a Utah resident for about three decades, over half of which has been in the Farmington/Fruit Heights/Kaysville area. In high school I was awarded the prestigious National Merit Corporation Scholarship and attended BYU on full academic scholarship, graduating cum laude in humanities with double minors in physics and math. I then graduated from BYU Law School and joined the law firm of Kirton McConkie.
I have been heavily invested in Davis School District and have 4 kids in Davis Schools--two in elementary, and two in secondary. I've put in hours and hours of volunteer time on behalf of Davis schools, serving as Community Council Chair, the school legislative vice president who reports on educational legislative matters, and multiple years as a room mom. In my church community, I have served as a local leader over the children's organization and have loved teaching children for many years. I'm aware that our school district leadership has received a lot of negative press lately, and I'd like to use my unique skills to help Davis School District turn over a new leaf.
One of my big strengths is that I am poised to be the most objective candidate in my race. I am not beholden to any unions, I was not asked to run by top-tier district leadership pushing hard for my campaign, and I do not have close family or friends in district administration. It is vital that Board members are independent from district leadership, as a big responsibility of a school board is to hold district leadership accountable. Also, whether you are a parent, teacher, or other community member, if you disagree with top-level district leadership, your last resort is the Board, and the ideal Board member is one who is not tight with district leaders. Our district could really use a fresh start and would benefit from having some new faces independent from existing leadership.
I also bring to the table a unique skill set that includes creative problem solving skills, a keen understanding of the dynamics and issues within our school district, and savvy regarding legal issues relating to the tough decisions that board members have to make. It is one thing to be passionate about ideas, and another to have the skills to accomplish it. Additionally, my legal know-how will help the district make smart decisions that keep the district out of expensive legal trouble and keep federal entities out of our district. I would much rather that taxpayer money go towards teacher salaries and smaller class sizes than be wasted on unnecessary legal controversies.
Parent Voice I have a long history of advocating for parent voice, and will continue to do so. We need more school board members who have parents with kids in the schools. Parents have stake in the game and understand the effects of the decisions the school board makes.
Teacher Morale I am a big supporter of teacher morale and am well known for volunteering in the schools to support our teachers. Many teachers in this current climate feel burned out, overworked, and underappreciated. High teacher turnover has a significant negative impact on the quality of education, and we need to take care of our teachers for the sake of the whole school community.
Summit A big reason I am running is that I have deep compassion for the students and teachers who want to have a choice as to whether they use the Summit program. Summit is a learning program that has a heavy focus on kids self-learning on computers, is radically different from traditional learning, and has caused a lot of controversy among families and teachers alike. There are people who like Summit, too, so I feel that people should have a choice. District administration is keen on spreading Summit to more schools and has been resistant to making it a choice, so it will take some creative problem solving and true commitment on the part of the elected Board members. If choice is important to you, please ensure that the candidate you vote for doesn't simply express a passive desire for choice.
Quality Education I will prioritize ensuring that Davis schools provide a top-notch, quality education for our kids. There are many great things happening in Davis District, and I will work to help all children succeed and achieve their maximum potential. I had great success being taught in public schools, and I hope that I can serve as a good example of high achievement for the children in our district.
Fiscal responsibility Over years of watching our district's school board matters, I have brainstormed many ideas as to how to use our taxpayer money more wisely and increase funding for our schools without increasing the taxpayer burden. I want to create a community fiscal responsibility brainstorming committee to take advantage of the many ideas in our community and to encourage interaction with our district leadership. Months ago, I watched the Board dealings with the recent tax increase, and I think our Board could improve on communicating with the public their reasons behind their decisions as well as be more open to input and interactive communication with our concerned taxpayers.
Safety Schools should be a safe place for learning. I will prioritize safety and encourage stakeholder input as to how to best keep our schools safe.
DOJ Settlement Davis School District has been frequently featured in the news lately regarding the Department of Justice entering into a legal settlement with our district leadership for failure to address racial incidents. There's a lot of complexity surrounding these issues. I'm half minority and half white, and I will strive to represent our district with balance and wisdom. I want all children to feel safe at our schools, and I believe the proper approach is not to indulge in shaming dialogue but to have clear expectations, consistent consequences, and dedicated personnel to train staff and deal with race-related incidents. I would like to solicit ongoing community input as to how we can together approach these matters so that this is not divisive for our community but instead something that everyone can support.
Curriculum I will encourage parental participation in reviewing curriculum, provided that it does not cause excessive increase in teacher workload or stress. Parents are rightfully concerned about the types of things taught in our schools and should have a meaningful say in these matters. We should keep political agendas out of our classrooms, and we should view parents as partners to collaborate with when deciding whether curriculum is appropriate and effective.
Morale-building Leadership I will strive to improve our district climate. Board members play an important role in ensuring that district administrators have a positive relationship with the school community; top-down, autocratic-style leadership should be discouraged and not modeled by board members themselves.
Proactive Outreach I will proactively encourage community stakeholder involvement through surveys and active outreach. The school board should have an accurate and wholistic understanding of district stakeholders' opinions. I am particularly interested in creating an anonymous system whereby school employees can give candid input without fear of repercussion.
Pornographic Books Parents' concerns about sexually explicit material in our schools have been mischaracterized in the media. Some of this material is outrageous to the point of being a public health concern. I will use my legal expertise to help keep this material out of our schools. Some books may involve more subjectivity as to what is inappropriate. For those books, we may need to have a rating system that requires parental permission before allowing access.
Transparency I will restore trust in our district leadership by increasing transparency when discussing major decisions like the travel policy, Summit, and choosing new superintendents.
Travel Policy I will re-address the district travel policy that doesn't allow our top-notch bands and competition teams to compete in certain invitationals while those from neighboring school districts can.
Board Public Comment Time I will increase school board meeting public comment time which our Board has gradually cut in half over the past six years. The public has had more interest in school board matters than ever in history, and I want to encourage instead of discourage that.
Between my four kids, we have been involved in both the gifted program ("Spectrum") as well as Special Ed. We have participated in charter, private, public, and online schools. All this experience gives me a unique perspective as to what contributes to a high-quality, solid academic education, both for gifted kids and for kids who find school challenging. I particularly have a special place in my heart for the families of those involved in special education-related services, as I have certainly participated in my fair share of IEP and 504 meetings!
I hope you'll find that I am approachable, a great listener, and will always try to avoid prejudice and snap judgments when making decisions. As a Board member, I will encourage fellow board members to cultivate a positive culture that avoids demonizing people who disagree. I'm really saddened by the increasingly polarizing climate we live in and want our district to lead out in seeing all stakeholders first and foremost as human beings even though they may have differing perspectives.
I am grateful to have a lot of community support for my candidacy; you can see who is backing me on the "Endorsements" section of my web site (if you are viewing this on a mobile phone, you can access my web site menu by clicking on the three lines at the top right corner of this page). Please consider voting for me this upcoming election as I will put all my heart into being the best board member I can on behalf of Davis District. Thank you!