Fresh: Attention to detail needed by county superintendent

Editor's Note: The Kingman Daily Miner will print a series of stories on opposed candidates for county and statewide office prior to the Sept.

12 primary.

The Miner today and Wednesday is running stories on the two Republican candidates for County Superintendent of Schools: incumbent Mike File and challenger Mark Fresh.

The top vote-getter automatically will be elected because no Democrats are running for the office.

The county superintendent serves as liaison between the 15 county school districts and outside agencies, serves as the fiscal agent for all districts, appoints board members to board vacancies within public schools and community colleges, heads accommodation schools and establishes service programs as requested by school districts.

The job pays $47,500 a year.

Fresh is profiled in today's installment of our continuing election coverage.

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The main duties of the Mohave County superintendent of schools are attention to detail, offering helpful suggestions to school districts and setting the tone for the county school system, candidate Mark Fresh said.

Fresh, 49, of Lake Havasu City, believes the incumbent, Republican Mike File of Kingman, has fallen short in those areas.

"There has been lack of attention to detail in several districts," Fresh said.

He added at least three of the 15 districts in the county have faced accounting problems: Chloride, Peach Springs and Colorado River.

If elected, Fresh said his top goal is to encourage more taxpayers to apply for an income tax credit that entitles them to donate up to $200 a year to a public school of their choice.

"Right now as it stands, Mohave County schools are missing out on $7 million a year, money that is being paid currently by 34,000 taxpayers to the state Arizona Department of Revenue," he said.

The county has collected only about $300,000 a year.

Fresh believes he is highly qualified to serve as county superintendent.

He holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earned graduate credits in education from Northern Arizona University and Grand Canyon College and has a teaching certificate.

He also offers 6 1/2 years of experience in teaching and 20 years in the private sector, including ownership of an advertising and public relations agency.

He taught industrial arts at Lake Havasu High School for4 1/2 years and is on leave from a job as a teacher at the Telesis Center for Learning, a charter school in Lake Havasu City.

Fresh home-schools eight of his children, but stressed that doing so does not diminish his commitment to public schools.

The county superintendent now oversees at least 1,400 children who are home-schooled, he said.

"I understand home-schooling," Fresh said.

"I have worked in the public schools.

I have worked with private schools, and I am aware of other alternative schools, accommodation and Internet schools."

Fresh said he supports school districts that want to unify, including the planned merger of Mohave Union High and Kingman Elementary school districts.

"Unification of overlapping elementary and senior high school districts is very appropriate and probably cost-effective," Fresh said.

It will reduce the number of administrators as well, he said.

However, Fresh sees no need to eliminate the job of county superintendent, even if individual school districts were to hire their own grant writers.

The position is still necessary because someone is needed to make sure school districts spend their money correctly, Fresh said.

"He signs all the checks and he audits the budgets," Fresh said.