Horne's eyes set on final hurdle
By Kristen Go
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 8, 2002
PARADISE VALLEY - Paradise Valley
residents know Tom Horne as a stalwart
on their School Board and as a former
But Horne wants to be known as the state
superintendent of public instruction. In the
Sept. 10 primary, Horne spent $500,000 of
his own money and knocked off
Republican incumbent Jaime Molera.
He now faces Democrat Jay Blanchard in
the Nov. 5 general election.
It didn't come as a surprise to people who know Horne when he announced his bid
for the post as state's schools chief. Supporters say his background as a lawyer
specializing in construction law and his service on the School Board and as a
legislator have prepared him well.
But Horne's detractors, many of whom are parents in his district, say they'd
someone other than Horne at the helm of Arizona's schools.
Horne became active in public education when his children turned school age. His
drive when he first ran for School Board was to increase academic achievement, a
theme he's stuck to for this campaign.
"We've had so much academic success in Paradise
Valley that I would like to bring that success to the
state level," Horne said.
Horne got the idea to run for superintendent of
public instruction when he wrapped up his term as a
Tom Krebs, Paradise Valley's superintendent, said
Horne has consistently shown through his work on
the board that he's passionate about and supportive
"Being a School Board member is a thankless task,"
Krebs said. "There's lots of decisions that come to
governing boards that are important that impact
students around the district, and a lot of those
decisions don't always make people happy. To do
that and do it while still balancing a family and a job
. . . and to do it for 24 years is pretty remarkable."
Jim DiCello has worked with Horne for the past 10
years. DiCello, assistant superintendent of business
services, also serves as the district's lobbyist.
The two have worked together on contract
negotiations for teachers and on the district's budget.
Horne and others are proud that Paradise Valley's
administrative costs are 2.7 percent of its overall
budget, while the statewide average is 5 percent.
"His efforts to keep administrative costs that low
and as lean as we can be, and still providing a high
level of service to schools, has been a high point,"
But some parents who have been active in the
district don't want to see Horne in charge of all the
Horne has been criticized for how he interacts with
parents and handles issues, especially those
involving the teaching of English to students whose
home language is Spanish.
Horne has said he will enforce a ban on bilingual
education and has the support of Ron Unz, a
California businessman who has campaigned
successfully in California to do away with bilingual
Joetta Halford said she's tried to get in touch with
Horne many times as a parent of a Paradise Valley
student and as a concerned citizen. She had
concerns about the quality of education offered to
her disabled daughter. Now that her daughter has
graduated, Halford tutors students at Arrowhead
Elementary School who aren't fluent in English.
She'd hoped to talk to Horne about what she sees as a lack of progress among
students learning English. He has yet to return a call.
"He really doesn't want to listen to the problems," Halford said.
Bernie Evans was president of the United Parent Council, a districtwide parents'
organization from 1997-99.
"I felt that he didn't always treat parents respectfully," she said.
Carmen Chenal, a longtime friend of Horne's, begs to differ.
Chenal said Horne is always willing to listen and is prepared and thorough.
"He's well-read on everything, he has lots of energy and is just a really good
person," Chenal said.
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