WENATCHEE — Wenatchee’s school board candidates will participate Thursday in their second forum of the season — this one hosted by the Wenatchee Education Association.
The forum is from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Wenatchee High School New Commons.
WenEA members and members of the public are invited.
Candidates participated in a Sept. 9 forum hosted by the 12th Legislative District Democrats, which was attended by about 40 people.
WenEA President Kris Cameron said she isn’t sure of the attendance numbers for this week’s event, which will be competing for school employee attention with a concurrent informational meeting on the new state insurance plan.
“However, we hope staff, parents, students and community members take advantage of this opportunity,” she said. “School board members have an enormous responsibility to synthesize the needs and desires of many stakeholder groups and navigate a frustrating and ever-changing fiscal and regulatory climate. A school board can be an inspiration or a hindrance to progress and therefore plays a vital role.”
The teachers’ union decided to host the forum this year to give members an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates.
Teacher interest in the board races has grown since the 2017 election that swept in three new members to the five-member board, Cameron said.
The three campaigned on a joint platform. One of those three, Sunny Hemphill, is up for election this year, facing a challenge from Martin Barron, for Board Position 3. Long-time board incumbent Laura Jaecks is running against Meliesa Tigard for Position 1. Karina Vega-Villa is unopposed for Position 2. She was appointed in January to fill the vacancy left when long-time board member Walter Newman resigned in November.
“Our members have paid greater attention to school board actions since the last election,” Cameron said. “They realize that a community’s public schools have an enormous impact on the health, economy and future of a community. Virtually every aspect of public education is decided by an elected official or someone appointed by one.”
One of the big questions for school board candidates from teachers is about who board members listen to and how they make judgments about things, Cameron said.
“Our members want to make sure that programs and policies are well-considered and don’t make unnecessary work that takes energy and time away from our work to serve students,” she said.
WenEA board members said they are looking for three main qualities in a school board member:
- A good listener with a broad perspective who knows how to place information into context.
- Someone who understands and follows all laws and procedures.
- Someone who works as a team with staff to do what is best for all students.
At the same time, teachers acknowledge the effort and commitment it takes to run for public office.
“School board members are not paid for the enormous amount of hours and effort they donate to our school district, and we are grateful that there are community members willing to take on this task,” Cameron said.