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Meet the candidates for Everett School Board
EVERETT - Voters have a chance to shake up the Everett School Board this fall.
Both races have a theme of establishment versus newcomer, as vocal Everett School District watchdogs Rodman Reynolds and Kim Guymon are running against Ted Wenta and incumbent Carol Andrews.
Both Andrews and Wenta have the Everett Education Association teachers union’s endorsements.
Each candidate last week responded to a Tribune e-mail questionnaire. Their responses were edited for clarity, brevity and space.
School board members are elected to six-year terms.
You can also hear from the candidates at two forums hosted by the Everett PTA on Wednesday, Oct. 16 and Wednesday, Oct. 30. The Oct. 16 forum starts at 7 p.m. at Heatherwood Middle School, 1419 Trillium Blvd. SE in Mill Creek and the Oct. 30 forum starts at 7 p.m. at Cascade High School, 801 E. Casino Rd.
Position 1: Ted Wenta vs. Rodman Reynolds
Wenta, a member of the district’s financial advisory council.
Reynolds, who attempted to recall the entire school board earlier this year, has run twice before and did not get past the primary.
Reynolds, 44, is “a proud PTA dad with two children in district schools” who has been “following Everett school board issues closely for the past three years,” he wrote.
Wenta, 50, and his wife have three daughters who graduated from Jackson High School and are now in college.
What is the role of a school board director? Who does a school board director represent?
Wenta: I believe the role of a school board director is to steward the public trust of their constituency in a transparent manner that benefits students, ensure the long-term fiscal integrity of the district while focusing on student success and be an ambassador and advocate for their district while conducting themselves in a manner to be emulated by others will bringing distinction to the students and the staff of our district.  
Reynolds: The directors making up the current board majority seem to be representing the district administration to the public, essentially functioning as a public relations board. I believe the opposite should be true: a school director should represent families with school-age children and taxpayers within and outside the district.
What are the district’s top near-term issues for you?
Wenta: I believe the top issue facing public education today is ensuring that basic education is fully funded and filling gaps with local bonds and levies. On the fiscal advisory committee, I saw firsthand the devastating effects of not fully funding public education which resulted in increased class size and increased financial burden to students and their families.
Reynolds: 1) It is critical that we implement the new Common Core standards in a way that our students receive the intended benefit rather than this becoming yet another doomed-to-fail fad or just another source of stress which will ultimately result in more teaching-to-the-test. 2) The new state-funded all-day kindergarten is a good thing, but the district should make parents aware it is voluntary. 3) Immediately, reverse policy changes at the board-superintendent level that corrupted the system of public governance. The board has essentially abdicated many of its powers to the superintendent.
Do you support the district’s projects list for its planned 2014 bond?
Wenta: Students need access to physical facilities that are safe, secure and designed to enhance student success in the 21st century and learning environments are modern, reliable and welcoming. Conceptually, I agree with the district’s priorities outlined in the 2014 bond, however, I support maximizing public input and engagement should there be a change in funding priorities.
Reynolds: I am not convinced the population emergency the district is announcing is real. All the items on the 2014 bond list are legitimate needs. However, voters should not approve the 2014 bond if they have any doubts about the integrity of the personnel at the top level who will be spending it.
Position 2: Kim Guymon vs. Carol Andrews (incumbent)
Guymon, 47, is a parent who founded the Everett Public Schools Project, a grassroots watchdog group. Her two sons attend Cascade High School.
Andrews, 57, was elected to the school board in 2007 and also has acted as treasurer of a school bond and levy committee since 1999. Her four children graduated from Everett schools.
What is the role of a school board director? Who does a school board director represent?
Guymon: The role of a school director is not to run the schools but to make sure the schools are being run well. School board members over-see finances and programs to make sure that the students are being prioritized and that educational goals are being met. I believe that one of the important duties of a director and a school board as a whole is to be an “open book” for the public.
Andrews: Directors are to create a vision focused on student achievement that shares the views of the local community, responsible for holding the district responsible for student learning and provide fiscal oversight to ensure resources go toward student learning. Directors are elected to represent the local community, and are ultimately responsible to the whole of society. 
What are the district’s top near-term issues for you?
Guymon: 1) Making sure the extra state money is used appropriately and where it does the most good for our students. 2) Getting teachers up to speed on Common Core and implementing it in a way that makes sense. 3) Making sure the list of 2014 bond projects actually reflect true needs and not the desires of the district. Students should be served first and the burden on taxpayers should be considered.
Andrews: One of the top issues facing the district today is how to most effectively utilize the school funding that has been restored by our Legislature. I am also excited about the districtwide implementation of a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum beginning with kindergarten and continuing through 12th grade. I was prompted to run by my desire to continue the dedicated, focused work of the district based on the board’s strategic plan.  
Do you support the district’s projects list for its planned 2014 bond?
Guymon: I don’t know if the district will need a new high school 10 years from now. The district overestimated its 2000 enrollment in a 1994 Seattle Times article. Space is available at Everett High School; bussing students to EHS is cheaper than a new $100 million high school. We need to adjust boundaries or programs and fill the space we already have.
Andrews: Enrollment projections indicate the need for a small high school and new elementary school in the south end, and I support construction of those schools. Statistics show that very large high schools are not conducive learning environments for students. With the state’s funding of all-day kindergarten, elementary school space is at a premium and a new elementary school is required as well as additional classrooms at existing schools.

 

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