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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Cowlitz Kelso School District No. 458 Director Position #3

4-year term No Salary, 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 – focuses the work on student achievement through a comprehensive strategic planning process; Structure – provides prudent financial planning and oversight; diligent and innovative policymaking; Accountability – sets specific goals and a process for evaluation, reporting and recommendations for improvements; and Advocacy – champions 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 the 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 commission sets policies and approves all spending via the budget. The council also sets salaries for district employees.
  • Howard E. Sharples (NP) Retired

  • Allen Warner (NP)

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Biographical Information

Of three major issues facing your district, which one is the most urgent?

What is your position on Charter Schools as a part of your public school system?

What is your position on testing of your students?

What is your opinion on "start times" for elementary and secondary school?

How can the on-time graduation rate be improved?

How should bullying be addressed?

What would be your plan to see that your school district students earn their civics credit required by the new state law?

What is your opinion of student suspension for classroom disruption?

Phone (360) 636-4421
Town where you live Longview
Experience (300 characters max) I taught English language arts at the junior high and high school levels for 25 years. I have served on the Kelso school board for the last nine months, filling in for a resignation.
Kelso School District will attempt to pass a bond next year, and the funds will be used to build two new schools and upgrade several other schools in the district. Many of our schools are not only showing their age, but there are security concerns that must be addressed at some of the sites. Providing our students and staff with buildings that are secure and structurally sound must be a priority.
I oppose charter schools. The original idea for charter schools sounded so enticing: Parents and teachers establishing a school free of onerous regulations where staff are free to innovate and deliver a first-rate education. The reality, for the most part, has been quite different. Too often, individuals are setting up schools to be run as businesses, and a business must be profitable. The problem is that schools are not businesses. A school cannot cut expenses by hiring less expensive staff or by rejecting students who require more care and attention and who consequently require more money to serve their needs. And frankly, in 25 years of teaching, regulations never prevented me from delivering my very best to my students. In fact, regulations demanded that my colleagues and I concern ourselves only with the welfare and education of our students and not some bottom line.
I support the concept of standardized tests on not just a state level but on a national level. A child in Georgia or Mississippi should receive the same basic education as a child in California or Washington. Standardized tests influence curriculum, so a national test would bring most if not all school districts into uniformity. Unfortunately, testing has come to dominate the discussion about public education, and in the process, testing has taken on much more significance than it should. Common Core was supposed to be the answer to standardized testing, but it has become a burden to teachers and students while enormous amounts of time and money have been spent on preparation and testing.
The research says that junior high and high school students should not be starting school before 8:30 or 9:00 while younger students would be fine with earlier start times, the exact opposite of most districts. The reality is that very few districts are willing to make the switch for a number of reasons that include sports and child care issues where older siblings provide child care in the afternoons. As a board member, I support what our parents want.
The ninth grade year is critical to a student's success and on-time graduation. Here at Kelso, we identify students who will struggle academically, and we support them with a specialized reading program. We also enthusiastically encourage our freshmen to engage in extracurricular activities like sport, clubs, drama, and music. Students who participate in such activities are much more likely to succeed in school. And beginning last year, Kelso started down the path of becoming an AVID district. AVID (achievement via individual determination) is a set of strategies that target not just low-performing students, but those students in the middle of the academic spectrum. Kelso also offers four different alternative learning environments for students who find the traditional school setting too challenging.
Schools must have a zero tolerance for bullying. Easy to say, hard to accomplish. Beginning in the earliest grades, students must be taught empathy and concern for others. These programs must be continued as the students move up through the grades. For more mature students, frank and open discussions about bullying and its consequences are advisable. When bullying does occur, counseling for the victim and the bully are necessary.
I'm not clear on what new law exists. The last legislation on civics was passed in 2009. What I can tell you is that Kelso School District does a great deal to prepare our students to be citizens in a rapidly changing world. For example, our sixth graders complete a world project that attempts to open their eyes to the larger world outside of Kelso. Our seventh graders must earn a credit in Washington State history, a credit they need for graduation from high school. Our high school offers advanced placement classes in world history, U.S. history, and U.S. government, and that's in addition to the traditional social studies classes all students must complete. Finally, our seniors must complete a senior project that involves some kind of community service even though the state no longer requires them to do so. Beyond that, we offer a wide range of extracurricular activities as well as music and art so that our students are well-rounded.
First of all, schools of education must do a much better job of training new teachers in classroom management. That said, suspensions should happen only for the most egregious offenses. Even then, an in-school suspension is preferable to an out-of-school suspension.
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