New and known faces in Everett School Board race
By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
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Two political newcomers, Rodman Reynolds and Ted Wenta, are battling for a seat on the Everett School Board, to fill an opening that occurred when longtime board member Ed Petersen decided against seeking re-election.
The second school board race pits incumbent Carol Andrews against Kim Guymon, who helped form the Everett School Board Project, a watchdog group.
In the race for Position One, Reynolds may be best known to the public for attempting to launch
Reynolds said he has been monitoring the school board’s actions for several years and is concerned that policy changes have allowed the board to abdicate its power to the superintendent.
He said he is a strong proponent of open government. “I know school districts are not typically recognized for their open government policies and practices,” Reynolds said. “I think Everett is one of the worst.”
Reynolds said he supports trimming the current six-year terms of school board members to four years. “I think if the voters realize they’ve made a mistake, they should be able to do something about it sooner rather than later,” he said.
Reynolds said he has studied five languages, including Spanish, which he learned in eighth grade. He said when there’s a will, there’s a way to expand foreign language offerings so students can enroll in them before high school.
Wenta said the district has such diversity that there are 70 languages spoken by students. “We need to introduce foreign languages earlier,” he said.
Wenta previously has served on the school district’s Fiscal Advisory Committee, which made recommendations to the school board on budget cuts during the recent economic recession.
Wenta said he supports building a new high school to meet projected enrollment increases rather than adding on to Jackson High School. “I think students do better in a smaller learning environment,” he said.
Wenta said there is a digital divide between the south and north ends of the district on access to technology and training. “I think additional supports are needed in the north end,” he said.
Wenta said he would consider changing to shorter, four-year school board terms, but would want to examine why Everett chose six-year terms to begin with.
In the Position 2 race, Andrews said she supports six-year terms, in part because it reduces turnover and allows board members to have perspective on the district’s issues.
Andrews said board transparency has greatly improved since she was first elected in 2007. Online posting of documents allows the public to check agendas and see background information provided to the board, she said. Board members’ email addresses and phone numbers also are posted online, she said.
However, Andrews said she feels that school board meetings are not public meetings, “but private meetings held in public. You don’t even have to offer public comment, but, of course, we do.”
Public input could be increased by allowing time for public comment twice at each meeting, at the beginning and the end, she said.
Andrews said she supports the idea of building a new high school since Jackson is “bursting at the seams.”
Steps such as instituting an International Baccalaureate program at Everett High School could alleviate overcrowding elsewhere and draw students to the school, she said.
Andrews said she hopes to be re-elected because experience counts. “I have a lot of working knowledge that’s been developed over the last six years.”
Guymon said she feels that the school board’s 4:30 p.m. start time discourages public participation. “Look at the districts around us,” she said. “We’re the only ones with a 4:30 meeting time.”
Guymon said she would like to see board members talking more with the public. “You give your comment at the board meeting, you get a smile from everyone and sit down,” she said. “You’re not sure if anything will come of it.”
The lack of foreign language offerings before high school is handicapping students, she said. “I think Everett needs to offer these languages earlier.”
Guymon said she’s not convinced of the need to build a new high school, questioning if enrollment will increase as quickly as projected. But she said she is interested in a magnet school that would specialize in science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts.
Guymon said she’s running as a mother with children enrolled in the district and someone interested in public education.
Referring to her previous work on the Everett School Board Project, Guymon said she said felt it was time, instead of just being a critic, to step up and help change the atmosphere on the school board.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; email@example.com.
Meet the candidates
The job: The Everett School District board members are elected to six-year terms. They are paid $50 per day for attending meetings and other school district functions, not to exceed $4,800 per year.
At-Large Position One
Experience: Works part time for the state with developmentally disabled adults. Spent the past three years following the Everett School District and decisions of the school board. Attended many regular and special school board meetings.
Website: www.rodmanreynolds.com and Rod Reynolds for Everett School Board on Facebook
Hometown: Unincorporated Snohomish County
Experience: Vice president of operations for the YMCA of Snohomish County with direct oversight for the Everett Family YMCA and Big Brothers / Big Sisters of Snohomish County
At-Large Position Two
Hometown: Mill Creek
Experience: Elected to Everett Public School Board of Directors in 2007; treasurer since 1999 for Citizen’s Levy and Bond Committee for Everett Public Schools; practicing CPA since 1985; parent volunteer in schools
Hometown: Unincorporated Snohomish County
Experience: Founder of the Everett School Board Project, parent volunteer in school