Jeffrey Rentzel is running for Fairbanks North Star Borough Board of Education Seat B. Originally from Pennsylvania, Rentzel came to Alaska more than 40 years ago with the Air Force, which he joined right after highs chool. He worked for the state of Alaska for almost 30 years as a juvenile justice officer, with more than 20 of those years in Fairbanks.
On his campaign website, Rentzel describes himself as a “Christian, conservative and a Republican” who believes in “God, family and country.”
Rentzel has two daughters, a son and two grandchildren; his younger daughter and son attended local schools. Rentzel is currently a foster parent, and has fostered more than 20 children.
In 2019, Rentzel was appointed to the Alaska Juvenile Advisory Committee, which he has served on since. Outside of work and his board appointment, Rentzel volunteers with a local 4H club as a leader.
Rentzel has not held public office but ran for school board last year as well. He said that he decided to run because he has been “pretty discouraged with the way the school board was leaning.” Specifically, Rentzel said he was unhappy with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District’s emphasis on “social agendas” rather than “actual education.”
Rentzel was further motivated by Fairbanks students’ performance on standardized tests.
“I was incredibly disappointed” by the scores, he said. “We’re graduating students who can’t read or write ... that’s highly unacceptable,” Rentzel said.
Education is important, he said, because, “Our children are our future.” He added that, “We need to prepare them to take our place.” Parents need to step up and be part of the process, he said, which was one of his motivations to run for school board.
If elected, Rentzel said he wants to be “the voice of students, parents and teachers,” and, by hearing all opinions, hopes to restore the confidence in the school board, which he feels is lacking.
1. Are you satisfied with efforts by the school district to address diversity, equity and inclusion?
I am not sure that this is getting the results they are looking for. They are using it to introduce social and moral values that many in our community do not support. Introducing this in our classrooms takes away time teachers could be using to teach.
2. What are your thoughts on closing a school building to save money? What is a fair process for choosing a school to close?
Due to shortages in the school budget this may have to happen. If that is the case I am sure that we would take a close look at all the options we have. We would have to choose the school that would have the least impact on the students , families and teachers. This will be a very difficult decision but one we may have to make.
3. If you were in charge, how would you handle Covid-19 mitigation?
I think that we have been pushing this issue to the limit. We are dealing with a virus that has a recovery rate of 99.6% in the US. Keeping your hands clean, staying home if you are sick and making sure you clean your work area often. In my opinion vaccinations and wearing masks are personal choices. Forcing students to wear masks at school will cause many parents to pull their children from school. We can not afford to lose more students.
4. Should smartphones be allowed in school? Why or why not?
Smartphones have no place in the classroom. They are a distraction to everyone in the room. Students are there to learn not to play on smartphones.
5. When was the last time you visited a public school and for what purpose?
Two weeks ago I spent the whole day at the Golden Heart Academy. It happens to be the school located at the Fairbanks Youth Facility where I work as a non-perm juvenile justice officer.
6. What makes you qualified to hold this office?
To hold elective office there are no real qualifications. You do however need to have a desire to help others, work with people and make this world a better place to live. I have seen over the last several years that instead of making our community better it has become worse. We are talking about educating our future, our children, the ones who will be taking our place. If we do not do that we have failed in our duty as parents, grandparents and school board members.