54 years separate Lake Stevens candidates

LAKE STEVENS — On the basis of age alone, the race for the open school board seat here could be characterized as old school versus new.

Joe Heineck, 84, and John Boerger, 30, are vying for the seat vacated earlier this year by Gail Manahan, who stepped down when her husband went to work for the school district.

But while the two candidates come from different generations, their approaches to running the Lake Stevens School District don’t necessarily reflect that gap.

Both, for example, believe the school district is basically well run. Both believe in the value of standardized testing – as currently represented by the controversial WASL — but not to the detriment of electives or the study of music and art.

“We’re teaching to the WASL test at the expense of electives, and that really bothers me,” said Heineck, a retired Boeing engineer.

“A well-rounded education that includes civics and the arts is important for making students and people who function well in society,” said Boerger, a former employee of the Everett and Edmonds school districts who now works in marketing for TransACT ­Communications, a Lynnwood company that makes software used in education administration.

“There are students who don’t test well. They should be given an opportunity to showcase their abilities in another method,” he said.

Boerger, who is married with two small children and a 15-year-old stepson, said he and his wife moved to the Lake Stevens area partly because of the good reputation of the school district.

He’s running, he said, because “I want to make sure they (his children) and the students in the Lake Stevens district have the opportunity to get the best education possible.”

Boerger worked as a Webmaster for two years for the Everett School District, then for three years in community relations for Edmonds. A former Mukilteo resident, he applied unsuccessfully for a City Council appointment there in 2004.

“I’ve been in school districts, so I understand from the employee level how they work,” he said.

Heineck, a 40-year-resident of the Sunnyside area, said he has worked on several levy campaigns and as a volunteer mentor and tutor at Heritage High School.

While growing up, “I had some excellent teachers,” Heineck said. “I went to college on the GI Bill and I thought it was time to give back.”

Heineck said he regularly attends board meetings and does have a suggestion for improvement. He’d like to see the district generate more public involvement at the meetings by more actively publicizing the meetings and by putting the more popular items on the agenda at the beginning.

“I don’t want the board to become muscle bound and procedure bound, but just to open it up a bit,” he said.

Heineck also would like to see the district assess students in the eighth or ninth grade to determine whether they’re college bound or are more likely to follow a vocational path. The district then could split students into two tracks tailored to their career goals, he said.

Boerger also has a suggestion for the school district: to do more to cultivate relationships with groups that help schools. With unfunded mandates such as No Child Left Behind straining school districts’ finances, the district could take even more advantage of groups such as the Public Education Foundation, which raises supplemental funds for schools, he said.

“We need to publicize that so people know it’s around and can donate,” he said — “so the teachers can do things above and beyond what they’re able to afford.”

Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or sheets@heraldnet.com.

The candidates


Age: 30

Occupation: Marketing for TransACT Communications, Lynnwood


Age: 84

Occupation: Retired Boeing engineer, part-time hay farmer

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