Top (L-R): Roman Rewolinsk, Charles Adkins. Bottom (L-R): Ryne Rohla, Janelle Burke

Top (L-R): Roman Rewolinsk, Charles Adkins. Bottom (L-R): Ryne Rohla, Janelle Burke

Facing $28M deficit, candidates for Everett school board offer answers

Charles Adkins, Janelle Burke, Roman Rewolinksi and Ryne Rohla are in a four-way race for Everett Public Schools’ Position 5.

EVERETT — Safety, youth homelessness and a major budget shortfall are top of mind for candidates in advance of the August 1 primary election for Position 5 on the Everett Public Schools Board of Directors.

This year, a $28-million budget deficit led the school district to pass its Reduced Educational Program in March, which projected 142 positions would be cut.

The budget cuts are due to a host of factors, including the end of federal pandemic aid.

Charles Adkins, Janelle Burke, Roman Rewolinksi and Ryne Rohla see varying issues facing the district and have different plans for tackling its financial difficulties.

Charles Adkins

Charles Adkins

Charles Adkins

Youth homelessness, overcrowding, mental health and safety at school are key issues for Adkins.

He’s got experience addressing some of them. A policy analyst for the Tulalip Tribes, his other public service roles include vice chair of the Everett Planning Commission and member of the state Advisory Council on Homelessness and the Snohomish County Children’s Commission.

He also founded the nonprofit Best Schools Marysville, which advocated for this year’s school levy.

Adkins grew up on and around the Yurok Indian Reservation in California before attending Chemawa Indian School, a boarding school in Oregon.

As a teen, he was homeless for a time before finding a place to stay at the youth shelter Cocoon House and attending Everett High School.

Adkins is running to ensure kids don’t have to struggle the way he did.

He praised the district’s Kids In Transition program that supports homeless students and suggested expanding it.

Beyond that, Adkins said, “we need to be thinking radically.” The school district could partner with nonprofits to build housing for students on its surplus land, for example.

When it comes to budget cuts, “we’re at the point where there’s no good answers,” Adkins said. School leadership should consult teachers and parents to figure out a plan, he said.

The bigger picture in Adkins’ eyes is schools need to get more funding from the state, particularly funding that isn’t tied to property taxes.

Janelle Burke

Janelle Burke

Janelle Burke

For Burke, Everett schools “need change.”

“They need a mother, a person that’s gonna stand up, a person who’s not gonna be quiet,” she said.

Burke, who has run in past years, has seven children with three in the school district. In 2021, she lost a bid for an at-large position on the school board with 18.2% of the vote, compared to her opponents’ 46% and 22.5%.

She’s the main person behind WakeUp SnoCo, which she calls a citizen journalism website.

In 2019, the website’s board voted to endorse a County Council candidate, Willie Russell, who had been convicted of multiple sex offenses.

Burke said Monday she wasn’t concerned by the criminal record, as the offenses occurred so long ago. She said she’d read court documents related to the candidate’s case and believed he had been treated unfairly in the criminal justice system.

As a parent, Burke saw her kids struggle with bullying and issues with school resource officers. It made her feel like the district was “a prison system.”

In Burke’s view, more communication with parents could address bullying. Officers aren’t needed in schools, she said. If they are present, they should be unarmed and act as mentors instead of disciplinarians.

Parents should also have the power to opt their kids out of sexual education, Burke said.

Burke, who is bisexual, took issue with students being taught about LGBTQ+ topics without parental input, which she argued could put kids in danger if they disagree with their parents. She also feels current sex ed isn’t age appropriate.

As for the budget, Burke feels “the school district isn’t living within their means.” Volunteers can take over some duties from paid positions, she suggested.

“Stop giving in to all to all these demands for more wages,” she said.

Roman Rewolinski

Roman Rewolinski

Roman Rewolinski

Rewolinksi is motivated to run for the school board because of his kids. All three attend Everett schools, with one each in elementary, middle and high school.

He first started looking into the district’s policies because he was curious about school boundaries. In doing so, he learned about its financial problems.

Rewolinski has an accounting background as controller for Athira Pharma, so he figured he could pitch in.

“It just takes somebody that’s willing to help out and get in the weeds,” he said, noting that ultimately it’s “a group effort.”

School safety is another big issue for Rewolinski. He said he would advocate for police to patrol more frequently around schools.

Threats within the school are concerning, too, and Rewolinski suggested a review of lockdown protocols and access to school buildings.

He also supports hiring more school resource officers, who he says could deter the “absolute worst situations imaginable.”

“Our kids should not be afraid of the police,” he said, but should feel police are there to help them.

In the classroom, Rewolinski wants more training so teachers can “stay on top of the cutting edge.” He also thinks teachers should be aware of what resources exist for vulnerable students.

He is also against banning books in schools.

“If we want our kids to be capable of critical thinking, we shouldn’t be sanitizing,” he said. “Kids should have an opportunity to see all the sides of a complex issue.”

Ryne Rohla

Ryne Rohla

Ryne Rohla

The way Ryne Rohla sees it, “fewer students are actually learning than ever before” in Everett schools. He feels students failing to meet state learning standards is the biggest issue facing the district.

Allowing students to graduate who aren’t meeting standards is “setting students up to fail in college or their career,” said Rohla, who ran for state representative as a Republican last year.

Rohla is an economist for the state Department of Social and Health Services and for the state Attorney General’s office, according to his campaign website. He was unavailable for a phone interview and provided answers to questions via email.

Rohla has a daughter entering the school system this year and two younger children. He is “greatly concerned for the quality of schooling my daughters will be receiving.”

He also stressed the importance of safety, mental health and support for struggling students.

He has a personal connection to those issues.

“I lost my younger sister to suicide two years ago,” Rohla said, “and my half-sister never graduated high school due to our mom’s persistent homelessness and my stepfather’s substance use.”

As an economist, Rohla said, he is prepared to deal with the budget deficit.

“If creative accounting between budgets or deferring capital expenses is not sufficient,” he said, “cuts should be kept as far away from students as possible, starting first with administration, technology purchases, substitute use, and lesser-used services.”

And as a parent, Rohla said, “what the school board does actually affects my family and I directly.”

Ballots are due 8 p.m. Aug. 1.

Sophia Gates: 425-339-3035; sophia.gates@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @SophiaSGates.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

A photo of "Tazz," an Argentine white Tegu still missing near Granite Falls. (Provided photo)
Tazz the missing tegu reunited with owner in Granite Falls

The 4-foot lizard went missing Friday evening. Searchers located him in a barn, 1 mile away from his home.

A closing sign hangs above the entrance of the Big Lots at Evergreen and Madison on Monday, July 22, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Big Lots announces it will shutter Everett and Lynnwood stores

The Marysville store will remain open for now. The retailer reported declining sales in the first quarter of the year.

President Joe Biden speaks at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, in Greensboro, N.C., on April 14, 2022. Biden plans to nominate Michael Barr  to be the Federal Reserve's vice chairman of supervision. The selection of Barr comes after Biden's first choice for the Fed post, Sarah Bloom Raskin, withdrew her nomination a month ago (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Washington Democrats voice support for Biden’s decision to drop out of presidential race

Some quickly endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris to replace him on the ballot.

Everett
Teenager in stable condition after Everett drive-by shooting Saturday

Major Crime Unit detectives were looking for two suspects believed to have shot the teenager in the 600 block of 124th Street SW.

Miners Complex tops 500 acres in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Nine lightning-caused fires force trail closures and warnings 21 miles east of Darrington. No homes are threatened.

FILE — President Joe Biden arrives for a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, July 3, 2024. Biden abandoned his campaign for a second term under intense pressure from fellow Democrats on Sunday, July 21, upending the race for the White House in a dramatic last-minute bid to find a new candidate who can stop former President Donald Trump from returning to the White House. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Biden drops out of race, endorses vice president Kamala Harris

The president announced the decision on social media Sunday.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.