School Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates discuss security, bullying

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Republican candidate Tracy Livingston at Wednesday nights Mohave Republican Forum meeting addressing various topics on education. (Photo by Vanessa Espinoza/Daily Miner)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Republican candidate Tracy Livingston at Wednesday nights Mohave Republican Forum meeting addressing various topics on education. (Photo by Vanessa Espinoza/Daily Miner)

KINGMAN – State Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates spoke at the Mohave Republican Forum meeting Wednesday and touched on how to get teachers more money, improving school security and bullying.

All four Republican candidates attended the meeting: Tracy Livingston, Frank Riggs, Jonathan Gelbart, and Bob Branch.

Candidates talked about the issues of getting the money that teachers need. Gelbart said there are 2,000 vacant teaching positions where teachers are saying “no,” without knowing the working conditions, but because of the salary.

“What’s the real answer?” Livingston said. “Push for (Property Tax) 301 to get 60 cents to the teachers.”

Livingston also said that teachers need to jump through hoops to get that other 40 percent.

“Give it to us upfront,” Livingston said.

Livingston has an idea she plans to put into process next year and that will give every teacher $300 to buy classroom supplies.

The audience was curious about what the candidates would do to improve bullying prevention. Many of the candidates touched upon cyberbullying being an issue and cellphones adding to the problem.

Riggs said all students and educators should be trained on how to recognize bullying.

Gelbart said the way the system is set up right now is to have the teacher and administrators stick up for the victims, and we need to take a look at the system.

“Peer counseling, getting young people involved to provide positive reinforcement to their peers,” Riggs said.

The audience was curious to see what the candidates would do about making school campuses safer. Many ideas were discussed such as bulletproof windows and metal detectors.

Before putting in metal detectors, schools need to be the safest they can be, Livingston said.

“Our schools are soft targets and we advertise it by a sign that says ‘gun free zone,’” Riggs said.

Riggs said the target needs to be hardened and districts should put bulletproof windows on buses and schools.

Gelbart said he doesn’t want to put metal detectors in schools because he doesn’t want to make schools feel like prisons.