By Elaine Weinreb
Press Staff Writer
Q. Why do you want to run for another term on the NHUHSD board?
Mike Pigg: I believe in our schools. We have two good school systems – Arcata and McKinleyville. I like what the administration and the teachers are doing. It’s a positive space, and I want to be part of that, continue with its success, and support the people in those positions.
O. Do you support trying to get a school bond passed to improve the McKinleyville and Arcata High School campuses?
Pigg: I do, but I want it to come from the community. Arcata High’s needs are different from McKinleyville’s needs. I want to listen to both, and see how we can best improve those schools.
Right now they’re talking about a football field, but we haven’t brought everyone into the room to talk about it yet. There’s just a few interested parties that have kids and want a bond.
I see the benefit of gyms and improving the fields for our community.
For example, at Jacoby Creek School, everyone uses that basketball gym, from adults playing pick-up basketball at night, to all the school needs, to dance classes. It gives a covered arena to a variety of people.
There’s a lot to look at. We need some open community meetings.
O. Would you support splitting the district into two “virtual” districts, as was discussed in a recent board meeting, so that only McKinleyville voters will be able to vote on a bond that would benefit Mack High, and only Arcata voters will be able to vote on a bond that would benefit Arcata High?
Q. Why do you want a bond as opposed to a parcel tax?
Pigg: I’d have to study that more, before I could answer that fairly.
Q. Would you allow companies and individuals that might directly benefit financially from the passage of the bond to contribute money to the election campaign committee?
Pigg: I don’t know how that would work.
Q. The state budget is still very unstable. In case further cuts are necessary, what programs would you reduce or eliminate?
Pigg: I would want [Superintendent] Kenny Richards, the teachers, and the students, staff, and parents to help us decide what programs we need to cut. We get to veto or to vote yes, but it’s got to come from the people who are in the program.
Q. Do you have any other ideas for raising money or improving the finances of the school district?
Pigg: Just make sure we have people writing grants on a regular basis.
Q. What would you do to improve vocational education for students who choose not to attend college? Pigg: What are the needs of the students? They’ve got to come to the board meetings if they’re coming up short. We have woodshops, we have car shops, and we have [training in] building houses. We have a few business courses.
Q. Students who are members of minority groups often drop out before graduation because they do not feel accepted within the school. What, if anything, would you do to make students who are people of color; or gay or lesbian; or physically or mentally disabled, feel safe and accepted in school?
Pigg: I don’t think we have a big issue there. There isn’t segregation. People do feel safe at Arcata High and McKinleyville High. We have very little gang pressure. We have a sheriff on campus.
As long as we provide a safe environment, then it comes down to the student. They have to be assertive, join clubs, start hanging out with people, and blend in. I don’t feel like we have an issue, and if we do, then people need to let the board know.
Q. In the past two years, what decisions of the board have you agreed with? Which have you disagreed with, and why?
Pigg: The biggest one was when Shane Brinton wanted to send out a flyer about a [cervical cancer] vaccine. That was one of our biggest arguments in the past four years. I didn’t think it was the school’s right to promote a new vaccine that we’re not confident about.
That was a tough decision, because I am for kids’ health.
We did a great thing with [Assistant Superintendent] Brian Stephens’ new lunch program. We’re keeping more people on the campus. They’re eating healthier things; they have a salad bar. But that came from the administration, not the board.
I’m really proud of the Community Day School. We’re keeping between four and 30 kids off the street, and we’ve integrated some of them back into school. I say “we” but it wasn’t the board; it was the administration that came up with that. They bring these ideas to us, and we just approve them or disapprove them.
Q. What is your occupation?
Pigg:I sell real estate, and I coach cross-country, track and field, basketball, mostly on a K-8 level.
Q. How long have you lived within the area encompassed by the NHUHSD?
Pigg: All my life. I grew up in Arcata and went to Arcata High.
Q. If elected, what changes, if any, would you try to make? Why?
Pigg: Look into this bond and see if the schools need it; have community input on it from the students and the teachers. Arcata High is talking about a center arts activity building, a bigger multipurpose room for performing arts. McKinleyville is talking about a football field.
Those suggestions might not be what we need. We might need to remodel our schools, upgrade them…
If the community supports a bond, then I support it.