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TACOMA School District NO. 10 Director Position 2

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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  • Candidate picture

    Kristopher A. Kerns 
    (NP)

  • Candidate picture

    Enrique Leon
    (NP)

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 (253) 376-9567
Email kernsfortacoma@gmail.com
Town where you live Tacoma
Experience (300 characters max) Sherman and Jefferson Elementary Schools, Mason Middle School, Wilson High School, Tacoma Community College AA, University of Puget Sound BS, Bellevue College Post Bac, A.T. Still University MPH-D, Midwestern University MA, University of Washington GC-MCH, University of Washington Ph.D.
I was born and raised in Tacoma Washington, currently have two children in Tacoma Public Schools, and am a passionate advocate for the advancement of education in our society. I believe I am uniquely qualified to serve on the Tacoma School Board as I have a very unique perspective on education in Tacoma Public Schools having gone through the system. I have also studied evidence based education strategies and pedagogy which has already allowed me to offer creative and alternative strategies to promote success for all of our students in Tacoma in a truly equitable way. I am a parent, not a politician. We need to get the politics out of our education system and put our kids and their education back at the top of our priority list, and fully fund education in Tacoma Public Schools.
Special needs education in our district is at crisis levels with the recent layoffs of special needs educators as well as inadequate access to the necessary resources needed to fulfill independent education plans. We also lack continuity in our schools as our special needs learners progress in their academic life, creating unnecessary confusion and additional barriers to theses student success .

Fully funding our schools and ensuring that no more teachers or critical staff, such as para educators, nurses, or guidance counselors, loose their job in the coming year as our continuing budget shortfalls impede the financial health of our district. We need to better advocate to our legislatures in Olympia!

Competency in mathematics and STEM related courses at the middle school and high school, especially among our female learners. We need to break down barriers to female success in STEM related professions and help promote these essential skills for an equitable 21st century education.
We need to work with legislatures in Olympia in order provided additional funding for special needs learners in our district. All students, regardless if they require additional resources as part of their learning, are funded at the exact same rate even though their personalized education can result in costing the district 2-3 times more over their entire academic learning in our district. In addition, our district covers a very large part of the state and results in parents seeking out our schools in order to have better access to these types of special education services. The one size funding model does not work and I will work tirelessly to fix it.
Equity is essential in education and I will work to promote transparency and accountability across our district in order to ensure that all of our students have the same opportunity to achieve success and their greatest potential. This will likely result in an unequal funding model as many parts of our district present additional challenges and barriers to academic success, such as socioeconomic status and high adverse childhood experiences. Working with community partners and other vested community organizations may also prove to be a successful strategy to ensure equitable educational opportunities throughout all our schools in Tacoma.
We need to audit recent safety incidents in our schools as alarming accusations from students and parents who are attending our school and community events have indicated repeated violence and unsafe conditions. In the interim, we need to advocate for keeping our school safety officers as they play an important role in keeping our kids safe. Long-term, we need to continue to advance the incorporation of social emotional learning (SEL) as part of the whole child initiative as well as other innovative strategies to better educate our kids, faculty, and staff on how to promote behavior that will help our students achieve their highest success.
Discipline is one of the largest inequalities in our school system. We need to ensure that we are incorporating innovative and alternative strategies to discipline, such as mindfulness training, as well as better educate our students and staff on these issues. Only by acknowledging this disparity can we work to resolve it.
Technical training should be largely incorporated as an option in more of our secondary schools as technical training opportunities have the potential to help generate a large number of respectable and high earning job opportunities in our community in coming years. We need to better prepare our kids for a 21st century economy and will require a 21st century education.
Attracting faculty that are more representative of the communities they teach in as well as seeking out or incentivizing teachers that are multi-lingual may prove to be successful strategies. Other strategies could be to incorporate curriculum that offers educational materials in multiple languages so that parents at home, who may not speak English as their first language, have the opportunity to learn and help teach their children outside of our schools and help their children achieve success. Ultimately, I also believe our schools are a safe space in our community and may provide the only access to family and social services to children and their families. We should strengthen access to these essential resources and help families deal with these unfortunate, but sometimes real-world challenges.
Phone (253) 242-3573
Email enrique@electenriqueleon.com
Town where you live Tacoma, Washington
Experience (300 characters max) I currently sit on the Tacoma School Board, and have held this position for a little over a year. My other professional experience includes teaching and mentoring throughout my career at Tacoma Family Medicine and the University of Washington, among others.
I am the current Tacoma School Board Member and have been on the board for over 1 year. I have also been able to teach and mentor throughout my career as a physician, through positions such as the Tacoma Family Medicine Residency Faculty. Educationally, I maintain degrees, residency and fellowships from James Madison University, Howard University College of Medicine, Swedish Medical Center (UW), and the University of Washington. My work and educational experience qualifies me to promote my campaign platform of encouraging health and wellbeing among students, as we have been able to do during my one-year term on the School Board through opening a School-Based Health Center at Oakland High School in Tacoma. Additionally, I come from a family of educators, so I am also in-tune with the needs of our Tacoma School District teachers. Lastly, I am highly involved in the community; I want to continue to serve our community by advocating for the best decisions for Tacoma public schools.
The most important issues are health, safety, staff wellness.
I’ll work to ensure our schools continue to teach and nurture health and safety. During my term on the School Board, we have been able to partner with MultiCare to open Tacoma’s very first school-based health center so that students can be seen by medical health professionals while at school. Research shows that school-based health centers increase attendance, increase graduation rates, and decreases school discipline cases. I will continue to work on building these community partnerships so that more Tacoma public schools can have a school-based health center. Stressed kids do not learn well. Health and safety are paramount in the Social Emotional Learning Curriculum we just purchased for the district. It will improve the emotional and physical safety of students and staff while allowing kids learn more effectively.
I would strive for equity in the way our education system is delivered so no groups are given a lesser education. Income inequality also perpetuates our school system, so in order to address this issue, I will seek to increase services and support to lower-income regions and schools, which would allow for a more equitable education system.
Addressing safety is one of my main priorities. I am an advocate for implementing social-emotional learning curriculum in schools to encourage safety, as it increases student progress in emotion management, situation awareness and academic achievement.
Equity for all students is a pillar for a just society and I will advocate for all marginalized students. Being an immigrant Latino, I understand the needs that many of our students face and will continue to advocate for equitable communication and access to services to all of our underrepresented communities in Tacoma.
I would like to see increased partnerships with our businesses, labor organizations, educational institutions and workforce systems to provide additional opportunities to our students. College or military is not for everyone. Many great careers are available with the proper technical training.
I believe we should have lessons and projects in school where students can learn about housing affordability in order to prevent and address current and future homelessness. We are providing more support for homeless and non-English speaking children. We will continue to lobby in Olympia for more resources for these vulnerable groups. Our city and county are improving how we prevent homelessness and the school districts need to stay involved in decision making.