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

    Tracie Barrows

  • Candidate picture

    Chris Lewis

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 (808) 277-7084
Town where you live Vancouver, WA
Experience (300 characters max) 12+ years in public education as a School Psychologist; 2+ years in public education with School-Based Behavioral Health; 2 years as a paraeducator; 6 years as a trainer in the public schools for Nonviolent Crisis Intervention courses; trained in suicide prevention/intervention.
I am a school psychologist, wife of a teacher, and stepmom. My unique position within the public schools allows me to understand the complexities of the classroom, as well as the challenges our students and teachers face. My education as a school psychologist has provided me with a comprehensive understanding of student needs, not only across the academic and social/emotional needs, but also in the diversity that exists among students within VPS boundaries.

My primary role within the public schools is to advocate for students, support families, and collaborate with teachers. I am experienced in working with a diverse range of students and their needs. Within my position, I also work at the district level with policies and systems: I see how those policies play out in the classroom and building level, and how the implementation of policies actually happens. I am a leader, ask difficult questions, and am not afraid to challenge the status quo.
One of the most pressing issues that our district is facing is the recent rise in mental health and social/emotional issues in students, which causes a ripple effect in the classroom and building and presents significant challenges on teachers and building staff. Students need to feel safe and have their basic needs met in order to learn.

Another issue facing VPS is equity, not only of resources but also among students and equity in opportunities. Equity is not equality, and we need to address the distribution of resources across the district, as well as the opportunities students within VPS are given and have access to.

A third facing VPS is the disconnect between the community, educators, and school board/administration. From my dialogue with community members, the relationship appears broken, and many employees and community members do not feel heard or trust the communication from the district.
To address the rising social/emotional, behavior, and mental health needs of our students, it is important that we continue to support students with appropriate counseling and mental health services. I did not support the recent budget option to reduce the number of counselors within the district, and I would continue to advocate for our counselors and support services. There are currently long waitlists for students to access mental health services at school, and I would like to work with our community agencies that provide these services to identify the barriers to increasing these supports.

Preventative supports, such as counselors, social/emotional learning, and FCRCs, are one of the best investments we can make with our tax dollars. Explicit teaching of social-emotional skills across all ages, as well as identifying and implementing tiers of support for students are key for decreasing behavior and social-emotional struggles.
They key to balancing opportunities and closing the opportunity gap in VPS is to continue to have highly-talented teachers and ensure students’ comprehensive needs are met so that every child has an equal opportunity for success. All students must have access to high-quality content and be held to high expectations. Providing high quality early education, as well as early identification/intervention for struggling learners, is critical in balancing opportunities. I would advocate for and support early education opportunities to ensure all students are prepared to start formal education. Access to equitable support resources is key as well, as often schools are provided similar resources, despite differences in SES or level of student need. For example, all middle schools have three counselors, despite building enrollment or level of student need. I want to examine how our resources are distributed within the district to assure equity of resources.
Students need to feel safe at school so they can learn to their full potential. Effective school safety starts with prevention. A positive school climate that incorporates school-wide behavioral expectations and a culture of acceptance and respect is a key element of this process. Safety is also built in schools when trust is established among students, teachers, and families; a trusting relationship with at least one adult at school helps to create a feeling of safety in students, empowers students to report any safety concerns, and can prevent discipline problems.

Supporting students’ mental health needs can also improve behavior, school climate, and the overall feeling of safety within a building. School counselors, psychologists, and social workers provide key services to promote safety of students in schools. I will work towards ensuring these providers remain adequately staffed so that both prevention and intervention services are available from qualified personnel.
To address racial equality, we need to examine the implicit biases that exist towards marginalized populations as a first step in identifying the inequities that exist. In addition, we need to ensure that diverse voices are included and represented in decision making. To do this, we need to seek input from members of diverse racial groups. My goal is to gain feedback from various groups in the community, including low-income, non-English speaking community members, People of Color, and other marginalized groups so that we can learn from each other and gain an understanding of all perspectives. I would like to incorporate community forums specific to diverse populations to ensure we understand their needs. This allows for their voices to be heard and for their input to be part of decisions and priorities in the district. I would also like to begin community groups focusing on equity and diversity, including forming Equity Teams as other districts have done.
Technical and vocational training is a great option for students after graduation and should be presented as a viable path to future careers, rather than focusing primarily on the college path. By providing technical class options, students can gain experience in these fields and decide if a technical career is right for them. Another way technical training can be offered is through apprenticeship options with community businesses and services.

Career days and job fairs need to incorporate vocational training and trade skills, and “college fairs” could expand to include many routes for post-secondary education and careers. Recently, a neighboring district had an Apprenticeship Signing Day, where those signing for apprenticeships were celebrated, like other students have college signing days. CTE credits are now an option for graduation, rather than the previous requirement to pass state tests. This is an important aspect of promoting technical training as a post-secondary option.
In order to address adequate education for these students, we need to first of all ensure that students’ basic needs are being met. For students who are experiencing homelessness or who are in transition, this includes access to transportation, food, and clothing through resources such as McKinney-Vento Act and our Family Community Resource Centers. Immigrant and refugee and non-English speaking children may experience acculturation differences in culture and language acquisition, and to provide adequate education, we need to ensure these students have access to highly-talented teachers who have training and experience in differentiation and appreciation and awareness of diverse cultures. Providing equity in opportunity is key as well: a disproportionate number of minority and ELL students are placed into special education or low level classes. Providing tiered interventions, social/emotional supports, and inclusion-based services supports the education of these students.
Town where you live Vancouver
Experience (300 characters max) Accounting and Finance majors - WSU; CPA – 16 years; Business Owner – Lewis Group CPAs; Foundation for VPS Board Member and Finance Committee - 3 years; WSU Vancouver Business Growth Mentor; Ridgefield High School Volunteer - Business and Marketing Classes; HDLL Coach and Treasurer; Lake Shore PTA
As a father of three students in the district, a business owner whose business resides in the district, and as a taxpayer in the district for over 15 years I am a true stakeholder in the future of our schools. I am also a certified public accountant with 16+ years of experience working with budgets and finances. I will apply my experience in helping to support a responsible budget that meets the needs of the community, the staff, and most importantly, the students. I want what is best for all students and believe that we need to continue to attract and retain the best teachers and staff we can find as they are working hard to make this an award-winning school district. I want to ensure our taxpayers, community members, students, and staff all have a voice in our schools. I am an independent, nonpartisan voice for the community who is not paid for by the labor unions and will listen to both sides of every argument before reaching a decision.
Finding a permanent solution to our projected budget deficit; Closing the opportunity gap; Underfunded mandates from the state of WA such as special education
Transparency in everything the school district does is of paramount of importance to the public. The district works with a budget of $324+ million of your money and you deserve to know how it is spent and where it is going. As a certified public accountant (CPA) for the past 16+ years, working with budgets and finances is what I do on a daily basis and would love the opportunity work with our district office to support a responsible budget that meets the needs of all of our students. We cannot rely on one-time funding measures any longer and need to pressure the state to meet their fiscal obligation of fully funding our district. If a permanent funding solution cannot be found then we need to prioritize what is important and cut our spending to match the revenue that is coming in. This should be no different than what every family faces when dealing with their personal finances.
Education is the primary way to escape the poverty cycle and the more opportunities we provide for our students the greater chance they have for success in life. A lot of students in our community don’t have the support at home to succeed in the classroom and by working with community partners like the Foundation for VPS, we can help provide students with the support they need to excel in school. Whether it is increased magnet programs, more project based learning at our individual schools, or increased language immersion programs, our schools should be seeking opportunities to expand the learning opportunities for all students which will lead to greater academic success.
School should be the one place that every student feels safe both physically and emotionally. With the recently passed bond our district is working to ensure that all buildings in the district are secure to help with the physical safety. I also support school counselors in all our buildings and would love to see more peer-based support groups so our students can have the emotional safety they need.
Kids don't see color, they just see kids who look different from themselves. Any racial inequality that exists does so because of adults and their actions and words. This is an issue that should start at the top with our administration with more sensitivity training and ways to identify any racial inequality that may exist so that we can eliminate it throughout the district. This should also be collaborative with parents and community members to address this issue to help everybody understand racial inequalities that exist not only in schools, but in our society as well.
We already have wonderful magnet programs in our district and I would love to see a magnet program for technical and trade skills. The biggest issue facing businesses in SW WA and beyond is the lack of skilled labor in the community. Students need to be prepared for life after high school whether that be college, trade school, employment, or military and a magnet program like this would give students skills that will allow them to excel once their K-12 education is complete. Imagine going to school and learning skills like carpentry, electrical, plumbing, commercial driving, welding, auto mechanic, etc.
Our student demographics are changing and we as school board must align our priorities to meet the needs of all students. Partnering with community groups like the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools and Council for the Homeless allows the district to leverage their community partnerships to help ensure the needs of all students are met so that they can come to school prepared to learn. I would also like to see our language immersion programs expanded and supported in K-5. This will allow more students the opportunity to not only learn a second language but this would also provide non-English speaking children the opportunity to thrive in their native language, learn English as their second language, and develop a peer supported learning environment which would help break down racial and language barriers.