Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
9 years on the Olympia School Board (2 years as President)
6 years McLane/Black Lake Fire Commissioner
5 years Volunteer Firefighter/EMT
6 years Navy Submariner (P.O. 1st class)
WSU Bachelor's degree in Business Management
Father of a 2016 CHS graduate (K-12)
The most urgent major issue facing the Olympia School District is funding. Stagnant State funding for the 2017-18 school year has forced the district to spend down reserves to maintain the educational gains we have made over the past few years. The model punishes districts that have a senior teaching staff. We pay teachers based on years of service and level of degree and the state will only pay the average wage of all teachers in the state. The shortfall in staff funding to Olympia is approximately $3.3 million for the 2018-19 school year. This loss is not counted against the increased funding the state claims to be providing.
There are many other areas being underfunded, and at the same time the state will be capping the amount of local levy money that the district can collect. Unless changes are made in the school funding model The Olympia School District will see declining revenues in the coming years.
I do not believe in publicly funded charter schools. Most charter schools are run by for-profit corporations that have no elected boards that oversee funding and staffing. Charter schools do not have to follow union rules and can fire teachers at will. The data does not report any better educational growth than public schools, even though they do not have to accept any child that shows up at their door.
I believe that school choice and the creation of alternative education paths within a public school district is the best way to serve our community. Olympia supports many alternative education choices such as Lincoln ES; ORLA (home school support, on-line school, and Montesori ES); MCSI MS (community science institute); and Avanti HS.
Testing needs to be done to ensure that each student in the district is showing adequate educational growth. State testing (SBAC, MSP, and HSPI) results are used to evaluate schools and the district, not the individual student. The district needs to know if its curriculum is effective and whether instruction methods are working.
Individual student testing is needed to ensure that the method of instruction is effective and that the student is making adequate growth year on year. If students fall too far behind their peers it is very difficult to get them caught up.
I am very interested in the "flip scheduling " that Seattle and some other districts are trying. The flip has Elementary students starting earlier than middle school and high school. Most scientific articles I have read support later start times for teenagers based on their internal clocks being set to stay up later and get up later. There are many issues to evaluate with this potential change for the Olympia School District. Transportation costs may be higher, teens might just stay up later, sports team scheduling impacts, day care requirements for elementary students that have been watched by older siblings after school, and potential after school job impacts.
I am very proud of Olympia School Districts 90% on-time graduation rate in 2016. We have created graduation specialists at both CHS and OHS that work with school counselling staff in tracking students at risk of not graduating and providing these students with extra supports to get them back on track. We need to focus on students that are missing class time either by being absent or by being suspended or expelled. The greatest factor on whether a student will graduate is the engagement level of the student. If we can increase the engagement of at-risk students by lowering barriers to being in the classroom, and encouraging participating in the classroom when they are present, we will see higher graduation rates.
Bullying should be addressed at the building level with support from school administrators. I look forward to the Restorative Justice model that is being implemented at Olympia HS. Restorative justice gets to the base of the issue by having a facilitated dialogue between the students involved and coming to agreement in how to proceed going forward. So far I have heard great results and hope to see the program go district wide in the near future.
I have particular concerns for bullying of our LGBTQ students. I understand the lasting impact of bullying and have a zero tolerance level for the behavior.
I consider civics education vital to our society and will support implementation in the state's 24 credit model. I will thoroughly weigh the recommendation of OSPI and our Superintendent. I would like to see civics taught in a hybrid method with part on-line and part classroom discussion. More and more college classes are taught in either a hybrid method or completely on-line and I believe this course would lend itself to the hybrid method.
We know that students that miss excessive class time are more likely to not graduate on time. We also know from state data that students of color are suspended and expelled at higher rates than white students. We must minimize out-of-school suspensions to those events where the student behavior threatens their safety or the safety of others. We need to focus on the reasons for the behavior and try to find solutions to mitigate them.
Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
Over the past 15 years I have worked as an advocate, negotiator, and union organizer for educators, students, researchers, and other public employees throughout Washington, Oregon and California. I currently serve as President of the Parent Teacher Organization at Lincoln Elementary.
The lack of Community Engagement. Big decisions are being made on issues such as Superintendent hiring, boundary line changes, & program closures without real community stakeholder collaboration. I support more transparent, accountable, and accessible decision making. Specifically, I support neighborhood-based, face-to-face outreach in advance of proposing/implementing major policy changes and expanding and enhancing digital outreach, including live-casting Board meetings.
Engagement is the most urgent issue because in the absence of strong community support we can't make real progress on the myriad policy issues the district faces, including implementation of real equity strategies that close the growing opportunity gaps experienced by students of color, english language learners, as well as neurodiverse & ability diverse students.
We don't need charter schools or vouchers to provide flexible learning environments that provide pathways to education success for all students. By growing and expanding our alternative and options programs, we can create an educational system where every student has a chance at success without privatizing our public education system.
Almost all of Olympia's leading-edge alternative programs have waitlists. Additionally, the School Board just decreased the number of seats in these programs with the closure of the ALKI program at Reeves Middle School. As a School Board Director I will collaborate with families, educators, and district staff to grow and expand access to public alternative education at the Elementary, Middle, and High School levels.
We test our students too much, and have come to rely on testing as evidence of passage or achievement. That's the wrong way to think about assessments & testing. The goal of any test/assessment should be to inform students' & their advocates about "where they are" relative to their individual education pathway, such that students and educators can meaningfully plan "what's next" in their educational journey.
I'm hopeful that the passage of HB 2224 at the end of the 2017 legislative session, which pushed the SBA back to the 10th grade and limits in the use of "high stakes testing" as the benchmark for graduation, will provide more students with pathways to graduation and appropriate post-secondary experiences - be that a 4 year degree, 2 year degree, professional certificate, or other credential.
We can improve academic achievement by better aligning school start times with students' sleep patterns. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Association of Sleep Medicine agree that high school should start no earlier than 8:30, a full 45 minutes later than Capital and Olympia High currently start. I support moving back high school bell times to 8:30, but also recognize that there are major budgetary and logistical challenges to overcome to reach that goal, including Middle School busing, sports practice, accommodating students' part time work obligations, and other challenges.
Early evidence from Seattle's later bell schedule pilot project (implemented Fall 2016) showed evidence of increased attendance, decreased need for discipline, and students self-reporting more sleep. Additionally, Avanti already starts much closer (8:20) to the recommended start time.
With the 24 credit requirement and testing barriers faced by students, many are struggling to graduate on time. Olympia has a great graduation rate presently, but I believe we can improve on-time graduation rates by a) increasing access and enrollment in hands-on, immersive summer programs at New Market Skills Center that help students build “extra” credits, b) growing and expanding our alternative pathways at GRUB School and the Freedom Farm, and c) collaborating with the State Superintendent’s office on implementing the newly passed legislation that creates new options for testing to graduate on time.
Bullying significantly and negatively impacts students’ ability to learn and grow at school. I support increasing the frequency of both student-facing and educator-facing anti-bullying training. I also think it’s important to recognize and own the fact that LGBTQ students are disproportionately targeted by bullies, and that intersectional LGBTQ students are even more disproportionately the victims of intense bullying.
Beyond training and education that is bullying-specific, we need to take a longer-view of bullying prevention. I believe that by centering emotional and social development at the elementary level, we can more effectively teach empathy and compassion, and stop bullying before it starts.
I am thrilled Washington state is re-committing itself to civics education. While I believe classroom education in government, economics, and history are important parts of teaching civics, I believe the most important way in which students learn civics is by doing civics. To that end, I support creating more frequent opportunities for students to engage in service learning. Living in our state’s capital city provides a diverse array of opportunities to engage at the local, tribal, state, and federal levels, working on environmental protection, serving families facing homelessness, participating in city advisory boards, and more.
Nationally and here in Washington, there are two disturbing trends in suspension:
1) Suspension is utilized too frequently to address classroom disruption; and
2) Students of color are disproportionately suspended and expelled.
I am committed to examining what those statistics look like in the Olympia School District, and working to address inequity in discipline.
Additionally, suspension creates significant additional workload for the school district. The district has a legal obligation to continue providing educational services to every suspended student, sucking resources away from our schools.
All that being said: suspension is occasionally the best/only option – especially when weapons are involved. However, suspension is not a best practice for students that are disruptive as a result of boredom, disengagement, and frustration. We can serve these students better by helping them find better-fit pathways within our schools rather than sending them home.