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VANCOUVER School District NO. 37 School Director, Position NO. 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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  • Candidate picture

    Lindsey Luis
    (NP)

  • Candidate picture

    Lisa Messer
    (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 (360) 772-8089
Email lindseyluisforvps@gmail.com
Town where you live Vancouver
Experience (300 characters max) Graduated from Fort Vancouver High School Center for International Studies as the Class of 2019. I will be attending Washington State University-Vancouver this fall.
I may not have years of teaching experience, but what I do have is years of student experience within the Vancouver Public Schools district. As the proud product of VPS, my connection with the classrooms is recent, direct, and personal. Being a recent graduate from our south end of the district, I have contended with the adversities our low income, misrepresented, minoritized students face. That is why when I turned 18, I registered to vote, and announced I was running for the Vancouver Public Schools Board of Directors. I bring a perspective never before been seen on our school board, that of a young woman of color. That is why, beyond this race I want to leave a legacy for a student representative position on the VPS Board of Directors. I don't believe you should have to run a campaign at 18 to be heard, therefore by having a student representative alongside the board to provide input and suggestions to the decisions the school board takes will provide equity and inclusion for all.
Making students and their communities valued: By being accessible to the community, regularly attending student-led events, not just district events we shall advocate for our school board meetings to include a larger community by providing translators and accessibility in the times and location of our meetings.

Closing the opportunity and achievement gap: I would offer an insightful perspective based on my experience on what truly works with our students and families and what may not, and also into problems that have often been overseen because of the lack of urgency and prioritization.

Representation: Having adequate advocacy from the right person is crucial for sparking conversations and therefore change. I plan to represent those voices that have been lacking for far too long.
Accessibility and transparency are two very important priorities for me. Coming from a family that works multiple jobs to make ends meet, understands Spanish only, and does not know how to become involved in the decisions made by our school district, it is important to me that every single family in the Vancouver Public School district has the accessibility to participate in our district’s decisions. Our district is for all. That is why I will advocate for recorded sessions either live streamed or videotaped and uploaded to the VPS website of our meetings. Also, we must try to be accessible by providing translations to overcome language barriers. This doesn’t have to be a difficult accommodation, it is only difficult because we haven't prioritized it. We must work together to provide accessibility and transparency to those that we serve as School Board Directors, from teachers to students, from parents to community members, all should be able to have access to their district.
By providing Dual Language immersion programs, it will help students from different walks of life. Dual Language programs are proven to increases test scores for both english and non-english speakers. It should not matter what your zip code in order to determine your capabilities. This program needs to be fully implemented throughout the district to work to get rid the opportunity and achievement gap we have between our north and south end of the district. We have the tools and research ready to act,but we need a collective School Board to prioritize the needs of those hundreds of students entering our district every year without knowing English. The implementation of this program is vital to the journey of success for our underrepresented students all throughout K-12.
We need to prioritize and ensure crucial jobs like those of counselors and psychologists are never questioned when thinking about how to save money for our district. These jobs are important in helping to maintain safety in our schools and should always be our top priority. At our schools we should be starting anti-bullying campaigns in for students, led by students. We must ensure we are allowing our students to be heard and welcomed to the table so that they do not feel left out or not cared for, that is why providing the space and platform for schools to start these campaigns allows students to be a part of something for their community.
Representation can be one of the biggest factors to represent racial equity in our schools. Different communities of students need to be helped in ways that connect to them. their background and their values. Representation that reflects our current and future demographic population at all levels of decision-making is needed. Beginning with our school board, the VPS district currently has over a quarter of Hispanic/Latino students, and yet in 5 elected Board Director positions there is zero representation from this increasing group of students. It is time for change. Representation in classrooms is equally important, reinforcing our commitment to providing students with the best support they can receive to be successful starts by hiring more teachers of color and providing opportunities for our own students to fulfill their career goals as teachers if they choose to do so.
Technical training should indeed be offered in our Vancouver Public Schools district. By strengthening our relationships with local trade and labor unions, we can provide apprenticeship and internship programs for all students. We need to harvest our own- provide our students with the opportunity of a middle class job regardless of their background or where they come from. We need to provide expansive opportunities for our students that do not wish to attend college or school after they graduate from Vancouver Public Schools. By providing accessibility for these programs in secondary schools, we can encourage students to be placed on their own paths toward success.

Also proposing STEM opportunities in classrooms can provide students an equitable experience to an introduction of future jobs in our society. Technology is an increasing piece in our society and we must be able to provide locally those opportunities.
Dual Language Immersion Programs can provide opportunities for all students, if it's done right. What we need is to place a high priority on programs that well help narrow the opportunity and achievement gap for our students in both sides of the VPS district. With the continuous increase of students into our district that do not speak english we need to further look, investigate, and act upon Dual Language Programs and their opportunities.

To provide education to students and families that may be experiencing difficult times finding a home, we need to have partnerships with community organizations such as Council For the Homeless, and others to find solutions.

For our immigrant/refugee community, our district cannot be afraid to advocate for our students and their families. We must take bold actions to ensure the safety and trust of the community, our first action as a School Board should be to publicly state we will protect and provide support for our immigrant/refugee families
Phone (360) 852-2933
Email lisa.for.vancouver@gmail.com
Town where you live VANCOUVER
Experience (300 characters max) 14 years as a classroom teacher; high school science, physics and engineering.
I am the mother of two young students in the district, my son and daughter will be going into 3rd and 2nd grades at P. S. Odgen Elementary. Through them I have seen the great work being done by teachers and educators in our neighborhood schools. My family has experienced first hand the amazing work that is being done by educators in our classrooms and neighborhood schools. Additionally I am a classroom teacher myself and have taught high school physics and engineering for 14 years. The perspective from my own classroom has shown me that Vancouver Public Schools has areas of improvement. I have also seen how decisions made at an upper administrative level have profound effects on our classrooms. There are systemic problems within the district that need to be addressed and my perspective as a parent and educator are ideal for finding solutions to these problems.
The most pressing issue for Vancouver Public Schools is realigning the board policies and budget to match our community’s values. Because of changes to the state funding model the district will have to make tough choices going forward and my experience as a parent and expertise as an educator are the perspective we need to make those choices. Second to that issue, but related, is the need to have open and honest communication between the district and our community; to develop a deep understanding of our students and families and the community needs for our schools. Our last issue is honoring and respecting all of our educators. The teachers in Vancouver Public Schools are well educated professionals and experts in their field. Why are we hiring outside consultants when we have experts here with us? When teachers tell us that a curriculum isn’t working we need to listen to them and use their expertise to address the problem.
In order for Vancouver Public Schools to realign the priorities and budget to match the needs of our community there needs to be more honest two way communication between the community and the district. For the board to make large decisions about issues like cuts to services or increasing property taxes without community input is irresponsible. I would like to see the board use town hall style meetings or listening sessions to hear from the community, gather input about what our needs are and make plans for our future. VPS also needs to listen to the educators at our schools about the needs of our students, about what is working and what is not.
While VPS has award winning specialty programs these services are available to only a small number of students. Often the populations in these programs don’t match the student population of the district as a whole. One way to change this is to have our educators encourage and foster students from under served populations to apply to these programs. For the vast majority of our students in our neighborhood schools we need to make sure that they have equitable access to high quality curriculum, educators and resources even when this may mean differentiating resources across the district. The Family-Community Resource Centers are an example of this, not all schools in the district need to have access to the same type of FCRC. Curriculum and assessments should not have one size fits all solution. There should be multiple curriculum resources available to teachers that allows them to address the talents and needs of their students.
Safety in our schools needs to be all encompassing and address not only physical safety of students and staff but also the social and emotional needs of our students. Our newest schools have a single entry with camera features to increase the security of our schools while still being welcoming to our community. For the social and emotional needs of our students counselors need to be available in a timely manner. That means staffing needs to be maintained at our current rate. Counselors are often the first to identify abuse outside of school and are the first line of defense for helping. Additionally our educators need to be safe, when a student is physically lashing out there needs to be properly trained staff that can help the student to calm down in a one-on-one environment. This can allow for the other students and educators in a class to continue learning while addressing the needs and safety of everyone.
Other districts in our state and region have formed racial equity teams to address these issues. These teams include all types of employees and educators and are formed to identify issues and develop solutions that are measurable and timely. I would like to see the board work with our educators to make a racial equity team and follow the lead of other districts. Additionally VPS needs to recruit educators that are as racially and linguistically diverse as our student population and community. This could mean attending job fairs out of the area or even out of state and working with colleges and universities to attract new educators. Using teaching websites to advertise our district could be a lower cost way to recruit teachers to the district.
Technical training needs to be available to all students at the secondary level and be influenced by local employers, industries and unions. This could look like welding and manufacturing classes or business and marketing classes depending on the interest of our students and community. The state offers additional funding to develop and maintain technical training programs, this makes it easier for VPS to look into our communities needs and develop programs to prepare our students for our workforce. While Cascadia Tech Academy has great programs they are able to work with a limited number of students, all of our secondary students need to have access to technical training to learn skills that will help them find and keep jobs after high school.
The one size fits all approach to curriculum and assessment that the district has now is not the answer to this problem. We need to be offering resources and training to our educators so they can respond to the needs of our students. We need to provide materials and assessments that reflect the diversity of our students and help our students develop an understanding and appreciation of our differences and uniqueness. We need to bring in more educators that reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of our district to work with our students and community. The development and implementation of racial equity teams within the district could be used to identify areas of improvement and solutions to these problems within the district. Additionally working with our community through the FCRCs to get support to our families is essential to meeting the needs of our students so they can learn.