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Kennewick School District 17 Director No. 5

4-year term. No salary, but some districts offer small per diem for evening meetings. School Board members, or “directors,” are the elected governing body of the school district, serving four-year terms. The school board’s governance responsibilities fall in four major areas: Vision – a focus on student achievement through a comprehensive strategic planning process; Structure – prudent financial planning and oversight, as well as diligent and innovative policy-making; Accountability – specific goals and a process for evaluating, reporting and making recommendations for improvements; and Advocacy – championing public education in the local community and before state and federal policy makers. The School Board sets the general policies of the district, which are implemented by the hired professional district superintendent and certificated teaching staff and personnel. One of its critical duties is the adoption of the district's budget and proposal of any school levies to be placed on the ballot to the people. The board sets policies and approves all spending via the budget. It also sets salaries for school district employees.

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  • Patrick (Pat) Mastaler

  • Candidate picture

    Diane Sundvik

Biographical Information

What unique qualities about yourself, your experiences, and your education separate you from the other seekers of this office?

What, in your opinion, are the three most pressing issues facing your school district at this time?

How would you address the one at the top of your list?

How would you balance educational opportunities between schools?

How would you assure the safety of all students in your schools?

What are the issues that need to be addressed to provide racial equality in the schools?

How should technical training be offered in the secondary schools?

How can the schools provide adequate education for homeless, immigrant, refugee and non-English speaking children at all levels?

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Phone (509) 735-1059
Town where you live Kennewick
Experience (300 characters max) Recently retired after 39.25 years as a Speech-Language Pathologist.
I am the only candidate for Kennewick School District board of directors, Pos. 5 who has hands on experience with the day to day activities, operations, and needs of the district, students, families, employees, and community. I recently retired after 29 years as a Speech-Language Pathologist. I have had a direct working relationship with 1,500 students and their families during this time. I have worked with hundreds of Kennewick School District employees in all levels (preschool through high school) and varying programs. My knowledge of Special Education laws, responsibilities, and funding will be an asset to the KSD board of directors. I have served on the KSD Bond and Levy Committee, the KSD/KEA contract negotiations team, and the KSD/KEA Labor/Management team. These experiences have given me a deep understanding of the financial and personnel obligations of the district.
One issue is how to balance the financial needs and responsibilities of KSD in light of the funding changes brought about by the McCleary decision. KSD will continue to have the financial means to meet the needs of our students, employees, and community. However, we will need to have a school board which makes financial decisions that come after reviewing community input and well thought out and researched information. Another issue is how to improve KSD's overall graduation rate, while incorporating the recent addition of Core 24. This requires students to pass all six of their classes every year to graduate. Not all students will be able to do so. We will need to look for additional ways for our students to be successful in obtaining their high school diplomas. We need to expand opportunities for all students in the area of real world work experience. Our students need to be able to successfully participate in the work world by the time they graduate, if not before.
The change in school district funding that came about due to the legislature's interpretation of the McCleary decision is at best capricious, and at worst, punitive. The legislature needs to hear from all district stakeholders (board members, administration, employees, parents, students, community members, business owners, and local office holders) that the implementation of the McCleary decision has not improved the equality of school financing. In fact, in many ways it has done damage to districts which were previously doing well, financially. If all Kennewick School District stakeholders reach out and have direct conversations with our legislators, I believe that we can affect the change that is necessary to put the real intent of the McCleary lawsuit ("to amply fund a uniform system of education") into place.
Each school has its own specific needs, based on the students who are attending that school and the programs that are housed at that school. I believe that the most important way to give all of our students their best educational opportunities is to provide them with well-trained, knowledgeable, and engaged staff. When employees are valued and respected they stay in our district. This provides continuity to our students, their parents, and the overall educational environment of the individual schools. Smaller class sizes at all levels (K-12) is also a key component to increasing educational opportunities for our students. Students in classes with lower teacher to student ratios have greater opportunities for one on one or small group instruction with the teacher. While this is true for all students, it is especially important for our students who are experiencing learning difficulties for whatever reasons, and for our students who are in advanced placement classes.
Kennewick School District has done a lot of work already to improve our ability to provide physically safe schools for our students, staff, and visitors. Now we need to work on providing more trained staff to meet the emotional and psychological needs of our students. Studies show that the majority of violent incidences in schools are committed by students who attend that school. Providing additional school psychologists, intervention specialists, nurses, mental health counselors, and social workers in schools has been proven to assist students in improving their psychological and emotional health, and in turn, lowers acts of violence. All students, staff, and visitors deserve safe schools.
Increase the number of children who are receiving early childhood education. Smaller class sizes at all levels allow educators to work with small groups of learners to better understand the students' strength and weaknesses. Standardized testing is particularly punitive to students of color who are not familiar with the experiences and topics assessed. Language differences are not valued in standardized testing. In fact, these differences are cause for lower test scores. We need to encourage more of our students of color (especially males) to go into the education field. When students have teachers who look like them and understand some of their specific cultural issues, they generally do better academically, and are reported to have less behavioral referrals. Kennewick School District has made improvements in this area, but we must continue working on it.
I am a huge proponent of Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes and programs. We are very fortunate to have Tri-Tech Skills Center available to our students, where they can receive tuition free technical and professional training. In addition, our comprehensive high schools provide individual career and technical classes for students who wish to stay at their home school. Both of these approaches meet the needs of different types of students. I would like to see more funding made available from the state and federal government, along with businesses, for additional CTE classes and programs in both of these settings.
Kennewick School District receives funds from the U.S. Dept. of Education and the state legislature (through the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) to provide additional resources for homeless, immigrant, refugee, and non-English speaking students. We have staff members who work specifically in each of these areas. This includes writing grants for additional funding, curriculum development, providing bussing from wherever the homeless student may be living to their home school to lessen the interruption in learning, parent education and involvement, staff training, translation services, direct instruction of students, and community involvement, to name a few.