MUKILTEO — Standardized testing and working to ensure all students have a chance to succeed academically are some of the issues being discussed in the race for the Mukilteo School Board.
Geoffrey Thorp, a 12-year incumbent, is being challenged by Shaun Olsen, who is seeking his first elected office.
The winner will help oversee a district with 15,000 students and a $215 million annual operating budget.
Olsen, 33, installs large audio and video systems in concert venues, arenas and places used for business conferences.
He said he decided to run because he believes that education is the foundation of democracy.
Olsen said he also believes that people should not run unopposed for public office, saying he thinks it shows a lack of interest in local government.
“I decided to raise my hand and volunteer,” he said.
Olsen said he opposes high stakes standardized testing, “especially the way we’ve implemented it in the state.”
Statewide exams include tests of students’ language, math and science skills, which are given to students in grades 5, 8 and 11. Tests also are given as students complete various high school math courses, including algebra 1.
Olsen said he doesn’t support charter schools. “I think we need to build up our public education system,” he said.
Thorp, 56, has been on the school board since November 2005.
Thorp previously worked as a tractor trailer driver, but has left that job due to a disability.
Thorp said he thinks that prudent financial stewardship helped the district avoid money challenges and teacher layoffs as the national economy went into recession.
He said he thinks one of the most important steps taken by the district is approval of a new equity in education policy, which is now being implemented.
It will help ensure that resources are fairly distributed so all children get a good education regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities or if they are English language learners, he said.
The school district needs to work to see that students with less “have what they need to get the same education as students that have the advantages,” he said.
Both Olsen and Thorp are running low-key campaigns. Neither has a campaign website.
The winner will serve four years in the non-partisan post.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Geoffrey Thorp
Experience: Member of the Mukilteo School Board since 2005. Previously worked as a tractor trailer driver.
Name: Shaun Olsen
Experience: Works installing audio and video systems in concert venues, arenas, and for businesses.