At times, the Everett School Board exhibits all the charm of a band of avenging Cossacks. Trivial issues mushroom. As William Butler Yeats wrote in “The Second Coming,” (a poem Everett students might commit to memory) “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
The ESB has navigated a series of thorny issues, from classroom cams to a new administration building. A bond issue headed to voters in February elevates the need for credible board leadership.
Transparency is the real or perceived hindrance. Accountable management (vague sounding, yes, but you know it when you see it) is the antidote.
Retiring board member Ed Petersen, who was appointed to the board in 2006 and elected to a full term in 2007, lives his values.
Thankfully, two knowledgeable candidates are running to succeed Petersen for position one. Between the two – Ted Wenta and Rodman Reynolds – Wenta is the clear choice.
Wenta, the VP of operations for the YMCA of Snohomish County, has spent his 26-year career dedicated to family, youth and community development. He is steeped in the mechanics and needs of the district, including service on the Everett public schools’ fiscal advisory committee.
Wenta’s greatest asset is a creative leadership style and capacity to work collaboratively. It has earned him the support of a cross-section of community leaders, from former county prosecutor and child advocate Seth Dawson to Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson.
Reynolds is a school-board watchdog who attempted unsuccessfully to recall the board for not establishing an audit committee. He expressed several good ideas, including changing board terms from six to four years (Statewide, Everett is only one of three districts with six-year terms.) Wenta also is receptive to the idea.
Position two pits incumbent Carol Andrews and newcomer Kim Guymon. Andrews, a respected CPA, seems a hesitant candidate, focusing largely on her experience. She adheres to a “it’s always been that way” response to questions about 4:30 board meetings. On transparency, Andrews insisted that board meetings “are private meetings held in public. You don’t even have to offer public comment, but, of course, we do.”
Kim Guymon, the founder of the Everett School Board Project, is an enterprising thinker who asks tough questions about school start times and other totems that merit pushback (Like other districts, it’s time for Everett to offer foreign languages prior to high school.) Guymon also exhibits the energy and political savvy to elbow for transparency.
Everett is a good school district that needs to do even better. Thought leaders like Wenta and Guymon can make whole the district’s promise.