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Spokane School District 81 Director Position 4

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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  • Erin Georgen

  • Candidate picture

    Kevin Morrison

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 assure the safety of all students in your schools?

What would be your preferred plan for addressing discipline problems in the schools?

What are the issues that need to be addressed to provide adequate funding for 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 (509) 426-4675
Town where you live Spokane, WA
Experience (300 characters max) USCG, 8 years; PTA, 15 years, currently on-call for St. Luke’s Rehabilitation; Graphic Design & Technical Communications, 5 year small business owner; Whole Washington, Board Member in 2017 and I-1600 Initiative Committee Chair in 2018; SB 5222 drafting consultant to Senator Chase in 2019.
I am a district parent with an amazing and beautiful daughter who also struggled with her behavior in the classroom. For a year and a half I struggled to provide for her because of constant suspensions for acting out. We were finally encouraged to transfer to a different elementary school in the district because the Behavioral Intervention (BI) services she needed were not available at our home school. Once she transferred to the Behavioral Intervention classroom, the suspensions stopped, she started catching up academically and I was able to be a more effective employee and business owner. Most importantly, her confidence and happy disposition began to shine again. I know personally just how difficult it can be to have a child who is struggling and I know the kind of challenges working families face.
1. Safety- Behavioral Intervention services are not readily available at every school in the district and the McCleary descision resulted in larger classrooms for Special Education students, for high schools, and middle schools. In addition the district is implementing a new restorative discipline policy. It takes time to learn new policies and practice for teachers to effectively apply restorative discipline models, but it also requires adequate staffing and behavioral resources. In addition, teachers have expressed they don’t feel safe at times, especially when high school students are acting out aggressively.

2. Budget- The district made significant cuts to meet the smaller budget for next year, but long-term the district is facing major challenges due to the changes in state level funding.

3. Infrastructure- The city is rapidly growing. The district will face overcrowded schools and lack of space for services like BI and in some schools in the district this is already an issue.
As a school board member, I will work hard to ensure schools are safe for EVERYONE by increasing staffing at schools with the highest reports of behavioral incicidents (especially aggressive behavior) and to expand Behavioral Intervention services to every school. In addition, I will also advocate for teachers, staff, and resource officers to have regular training for Managing Aggressive Behavior that includes de-escalation techniques so that district employees working with students can be effective at recognizing aggressive behavior early and at de-escalating (or referring families for additional services) before a student’s behavior disrupts the classroom or results in suspensions/expulsions.
In addition to the things mentioned above, the district has failed at times to meet its obligations to report to parents when Isolation rooms are used to discipline students and at least one Special Ed student was injured due to a poorly designed isolation space (and at times overuse of isolation). This is a critical issue which must be addressed for the safety of our most vulnerable students and in preventing the district from facing lawsuits. We must implement a clear policy for when these spaces are used and ensuring proper reporting to parents. I will advocate for those policies and for increased staffing for Special Ed classrooms.

I will also advocate for our district to increase staffing (beyond the state mandated staffing) at schools within our district that have the highest need (aka the schools with higher of behavioral challenges from students) and work with local police on a policy to address serious threats of violence or threats to safety from outside the schools.
I support the newly approved social-emotional learning curriculum and the restorative discipline models, but I also know it takes time for teachers and staff to learn new policies. They also need adequate staffing and resources to effectively implement these policies, so any plan must consider: clear policies, ample training, and staffing needs.

My preferred plan would include using the district’s data on discipline issues to prioritize staffing and resources. Additionally, the district should be using Trauma Informed Education to identify schools that are in need of additional behavioral intervention services.
The district is facing continued budget deficits in the future despite the massive cuts made recently. I would advocate at the state level for a more comprehensive definition of “fully funded education” and an increase in state-level funding for the district. Beyond that, I believe voters in our district have a right to fund specific district needs through local levies and it is a crucial responsibility of board members to provide those opportunities.

I will also look for ways to reduce redundant spending and assessment testing whenever possible, including advocating for state-level legislative changes when necessary.
Degreed career paths are not always the best choice for everyone. Many thrive in building and trades or other hands-on careers. Curriculum at schools should include exposure to a diversity of career paths and practical skills. The district can work with local unions to expand Skill Center’s courses and to expand class offerings at all schools, potentially coordinating to identify students who would be a good fit for the Skill Centers more in depth courses.

In addition, students would benefit from exposure to medical and science related technical fields like medical assistants, dental hygienist, phlebotomy technicians, and therapy assistant careers.
The district can work with local businesses and organizations to continue and expand the services available for parents and families available through the school (like after-school childcare, counseling, free lunches, and summer programs) to help provide some equity for these students. Additional courses or specialized classrooms can be used to help students with unique educational needs (like students who are homeless or who are non-English speaking). Additionally, the district should work to identify families who are struggling BEFORE they become homeless and work with the City Council to prevent families from becoming homes less and to provide stable housing when homelessness occurs.
Phone (509) 953-9024
Town where you live Spokane
Experience (300 characters max) Over 25 years private sector management 9 years: Spokane Public Schools Capital Projects Technical Specialist 5 years: Director- Communications and Community Relations, Spokane Public Schools 1 year: Interim Director of Risk Management, Transportation and Campus Safety- Spokane Public Schools.
Having been raised by two Spokane Public Schools graduates, (John R Rogers and Lewis and Clark), my siblings and I were taught the value of public education. We learned that the education we were receiving in Spokane Public Schools was to be honored and valued, and used as a stepping stone to whatever our dreams beyond traditional K-12 may be. The past 15 years I have worked for Spokane Public Schools, first in a role within Capital Projects, followed in 2013 when I was asked by district leadership to become the Director of Communication and Community Relations, a cabinet level position I was honored to serve for five years until my retirement. In fall of 2018, I was asked to to serve as Interim Director of Campus Safety, Risk Management and Transportation for the remainder of the school year. My history in cabinet level discussions and initiatives, and leadership from boardroom to classroom will give me the ability to serve the students, staff and community from day of my election.
1. Budget. SPS, like many districts is coming to terms that the McCleary "fix" garnered by our legislature falls short of what basic education is in today's world. Public schools are being asked to do more than ever before with greater needs in areas around special education, student mental health issues, and being able to maintain safe and productive learning environments. 2. Leadership. This November, SPS will lose three board members with over twenty years of combined, institutional knowledge in oversight and governing. With over 185 policies to maintain and administer, a $465M budget to authorize, state lower class size mandates being enforced, SPS needs strong school board leaders who can advocate the changes necessary to maintain a balanced budget while meeting state and federal mandates. 3. Implementation of a long range, sustainable School Safety and Security plan that includes members of the community, staff, students and addresses what does safety mean in our district.
It begins with continuing the transparent conversations that have been ongoing the past several months with our community as to district revenue and expenses. The overwhelming success rates of past bonds and levies has shown that once the community understands the needs and is given the opportunity for questions and discussions- they are more than eager to invest in local public education. Our community has learned that McCleary did not fix public education in our state. It helped to stem the immediate shortfall, but did not address many of the issues that we are seeing in our district such as rising behavior and mental health issues facing our teachers, and the true cost of many of the special education services our families of special needs students depend on.I would strongly advocate for a legislative session to increase the funding ratios or create a new model by which the needs of this vulnerable population can be sustained with fidelity.
The district had the foresight to engage a nationally recognized, non-profit school safety firm to do a comprehensive audit of all 52 of our campuses last year. Using this recently published report, along with conversations with staff and community, it will be important to prioritize and initiate the recommendations given the fiscal realities. Many of the report recommendations come from standardizing training and implementation and ensuring consistency across all sites. One of the key recommendations is for the district to continue to engage our parents, students, staff and local emergency agencies in monthly forum to discuss safety issues within our schools.
SPS has worked diligently the past several years to address the issues surrounding discipline and the behaviors that lead to it.. The first step is to ensure fidelity in the systems and reporting at the building level, district level and state level. Age-appropriate standards that are adopted within board policy and procedures need to be clearly communicated to staff that is adequately funded and trained. Exclusionary practices of suspension from school should only be used as a last resort or when the student is at risk for self-harm or harm of others in the school. At all times and for all levels of discipline, proper record keeping and notification to parents or guardians should be strictly adhered to as standards within any disciplinary policy and procedure.
The ratios and formulas for special education funding of services needs to be addressed first and foremost. Both the Federal and the State have fallen consistently short when it comes to being able to deliver the services that are often required in our special education populations. Every state has a different model on how they allocate that funding from statehouse to student house. OSPI and our elected representatives in Olympia need to take a hard look at the current model in comparison to actual cost of services. The local levy rate that each of the 295 districts in our state is allowed to pass onto our local property owners needs to revisited to ensure that equity in "basic education" is not dependent on zip code, but on ability to delivery services. SPS has not visited a technology levy in over twenty years- a funding mechanism which helps to ensure that specific dollars reach specific needs of the classroom infrastructure.
Career Technical Training (CTE) is ever-evolving dependent on the needs of the marketplace. A CTE advisory group made up of local manufacture and industry representatives meet monthly already to discuss current and future trends that they are seeing within specific fields. This is key to any programs being offered in secondary schools in SPS. As to delivery of programs, and which specific programs are being offered in CTE - that should be dependent on (1) industry need/growth (2) availability of qualified instructor (3) availability of solid, researched curriculum (4) budget capacity of district for the offering. The ESD NewTech Skills Center can offer high quality delivery of curriculum in technical fields for any fields that can not meet the criteria above. Where possible, Spokane Virtual Learning (highly recognized and rigorous computer based curriculum) can be utilized.
Spokane Public Schools currently has approximately 5% of the students at any given time that are classified as homeless as defined by the Federal McKinney Vento Act. The well-intended legislation mandates a number of requirements upon districts that are built to safeguard a student have minimal disruption in education while undergoing transition to permanent housing. It is imperative that those Federal mandates be adequately funded to ensure that the required services are being delivered to those who need them.

As to immigrant, refugee and non-English learners the model by which SPS has grown the past several with the Family Registration and Outreach Center (FROC) - centrally located in the city has proven very effective in providing a one-stop shop to ensure that this vulnerable population enters the public education system with additional supports in their native language. 7% of the SPS student population utilizes the services of this department in any given year.