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North Thurston Public Schools School Board Director, District No. 1

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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    Gretchen Maliska

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    Jason Noahr

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?

Phone (360) 250-9915
Experience (300 characters max) As a current School Board Director, I continue to be a strong community leader in education. Since 2006, I have served students, staff and community members on Legislative Committees, Levy Campaigns, Boundary Committees, Strategic Planning, Special Education and toward greater understanding for all.
As Career & Technical Education Program Manager in the K-12 school system, I provide administrative oversight to 60 staff members in career connected learning. I have served as an executive administrator at a K-8 private school, providing oversight on budget, funding, enrollment, curriculum, and staff development. As a parent of 5, I have also managed multiple educational connected activities. I also provided advocacy for children with special needs and am an active supporter of Activities, Athletics and Performing Arts as part of comprehensive public education. Being in education for more than 20 years has given me a deep understanding of students, parents, staff members and community members. I am a thoughtful listener who is committed to open and honest discussion and input. I look forward to continuing my work with district leaders, staff, students and the community to provide our youth the opportunity to become their best selves, contributing citizens and forward thinkers.
1. Career Connected Learning It is so important that North Thurston Public Schools continues to provide opportunities that lead our students to the work force just as much as we lead them to further education. We can continue to build on dual credit, apprentices and career connected pathways to provide all of our students a great future. Giving our students equal opportunities into the work force and college are vital to our community. 2. Equity In order to provide equity there must be a great understanding from all involved. Understanding that everyone comes to the table with a different set of barriers and tools is a very different message to each community member. It is vital that we continue to move toward providing each person with the tools they need to be their best self. 3. Democracy I believe that through democracy we can overcome our limitations, break through barriers created by our history, and live extraordinarily equitable lives. I believe that through democracy we ca
I do not believe any issue is more important than the other. However, Career Connected Learning is a passion of mine, so I will speak to that. NTPS continues to analyze the opportunities they can provide that give our students skills needed in our community work force. We are working to make stronger partnerships with our Industry Partners by understanding what they need from their employees and applying education mandates to ensure our students are mastering the curriculum needed. Creating more opportunities for our student to earn dual credit as they work through middle and high school, providing internship/apprenticeship opportunities are happening each year. Each step that dives deeper into the partnership of Industry and Education provides more opportunities for our students. I am so excited to be a part of these steps.
Serving on the Boundary Committee several years ago, the number one mandate was to equality of all factors to the best of our ability. This was really accomplished at the MS and HS levels. It was mostly successful at the ES level. This provided the district an opportunity to work with the schools to balance educational opportunities between schools. While every school is different and programs don’t always succeed, the work to balance is there and will continue.
Safety is such an important right for our students and staff. The district continues to set new improvements on safety each year by implementing electronic tracking on the school buses, working to have one entrance/exit at many of our schools and continuing to put safety on the top of the list during construction and at each school. Each school has requirements in the parking lot and on the play fields. Nothing is ever perfect, but there is so much to celebrate in this area.
North Thurston Public Schools spent this year working on equality with their theme “Everyone Belongs”. Staff continues to be trained; teams were established to identify solutions and we are structuring an Equity Resolution through a diverse team of students and stakeholders. We believe that equity looks very different from equality and continue to work to make NTPS the best district in Thurston County for all.
I’m not sure I understand this question, but I believe you are asking about Career Connected Learning. The Board has worked to open Community Conversations in the past 12 months. By asking Industry Partners and Community Leaders to come together, we exposed many opportunities to be stronger with our technical training for our students. We continue to align pathways that allow students to seek specialized training in fields such as welding, automotive, carpentry and many more. By working with our industry partners to create additional internships and apprenticeships, we continue to strive to make career bound students just as important as college bound students. I have the privileged of this area being my my day job as well. I continue to work with Washington State to seek solutions that provide our student with the best training possible to enter trade school, the work force or college. This will increase the talent in our county and give additional employment opportunities.
NTPS has worked to partner with the City of Lacey on many of these issues. We have opened a Food bank that continues to grow with opportunities. We are opening another opportunity center for our students who are homeless in the middle of our district and will create more staff opportunities to be out in our buildings. We have offered additional language certifications for our immigrants, refugees and non-English speaking students. That is just the tip of the iceberg in these areas.

NTPS continues to be on the forefront of innovation and solutions for our community. While there is always a great deal of difficult work to do, we continue to tackle issues for education and community.
Phone 360-790-0564
Town where you live Olympia
I am running for North Thurston School Board to ensure all students have the same opportunity for success, to partner with parents and educators and to guarantee our students feel safe and welcome at school.

I am a lifelong Lacey resident and a product of North Thurston Schools having attended Woodland Elementary, Lakes Elementary, Nisqually Middle and graduating from Puget Sound High School (now South Sound High School). My vocational path at the New Market Skill Center launched me into a career in law enforcement.

At home, I am a foster parent and uncle to 32 nieces and nephews. My large family and this community give me the unique perspective, having seen the different experiences, challenges and successes many students also face.

Safety is essential to kids’ success. As a State Trooper I know it is important for all our kids to feel safe and welcome in our local schools. Feeling safe means students are in small classes with access to educators who care and support their soci
I believe the district schools are operating well, but there is room to grow. I am concerned about how resources are provided from school-to-school. It is important that programs, resources and funding are provided equitably across the district. Some schools may need more resources to address challenges of certain student populations such as special education or English language learners. Additional supports should be provided to students who need it to make sure every student can learn to their full potential. I believe the district schools are operating well, but there is room to grow. I am concerned about how resources are provided from school-to-school. It is important that programs, resources and funding are provided equitably across the district. Some schools may need more resources to address challenges of certain student populations such as special education or English language learners. Additional supports should be provided to students who need it to make sure every student
I would address all the issues, not just the one at the top of my list, by first focusing on what students need and then working with parents, educators and the community to develop a solution that can work for everyone.
As a board member, I would work to advance district policies that make sure all students have the same opportunity for success. This means that some schools may receive additional supports and resources from the district to address different challenges faced by the different schools in the district. For example, students learning English as a second language would need additional supports so that they can pursue all the same opportunities as their English-speaking peers.
It starts with providing students the social and emotional skills to interact with each other in a respectful way so each student feels valued and safe. We have a mental health crisis in this community. That doesn’t stop at the school’s doors. If we don’t address mental health issues early by giving staff and students the tools needed, then the problem will only compound. Keeping students safe begins with intervention. It is important that staff are trained to recognize a student is having troubles long before a student goes into crisis. History shows us when students inflict violence in schools the student was showing signs of struggles long before the incident. A safe environment also requires classroom supports to keep students and staff safe when students with cognitive delays and behavioral issues may act out by punching and kicking. A school board needs to communicate with the community to help them understand why these supports are just as necessary for student’s success as all
Addressing the education opportunity gap should start early by providing quality early learning programs that help prepare students for their K-12 career. Social, emotional and educational supports should continue throughout the students’ educational career. District staff should be provided opportunities to learn about and address cultural bias. I believe that all students should feel welcome in their schools. Recognizing, understanding and celebrating cultural differences helps students feel a part of the school community. Sharing these experiences with the other students helps enrich the educational program. As I have stated in a prior question, it is important that the district works to diversify the workforce to better mirror the racial makeup of the students of our district. This may take many years to accomplish, but in the short-term we should work hard to make sure students can see themselves in the books they read and the curriculum they are taught. As a school board direct
Technical training is currently offered in North Thurston PS through career and technical education (CTE) classes. I have heard from parents and educators that the opportunities for students in CTE differ across the district. I would like to work with students, parents and educators to develop a vocational plan that allows students to attend the courses that spark excitement in learning. I believe in bringing in industry professionals to the schools to partner with the teacher to show students how the training they receive in the classroom translates on the job. Additional technical training is provided regionally through the New Market Skill Center, which I attended as a student. Skill centers provide the next level of technical training. I am a big supporter of this regional option. By pooling together resources and program of many school districts in our area, we are able to increase the offerings and provide additional opportunities to students. Transportation and the time co
First, it starts with making sure students who are experiencing homelessness and students of immigrant backgrounds feel safe at school. Homelessness creates feelings of instability and scarcity for a child. The current political climate has created fear of family separation and deportation for students with immigrant or refugee families. These students cannot learn in their classroom when their minds are constantly processing feelings of fear and being unsafe. Educators need support and on-going training so they are can best understand and address these students’ feelings and learning challenges. The school community must create a culture that supports these students in a safe, caring and accepted way. The resiliency of children is always surprising to me. I believe once these students feel safe, cared for and respected, their learning will progress just like their other classroom peers. This may require some additional academic and social emotional supports for some of these stude