By Arlington Times and Herald staff
ARLINGTON — Two of five seats on the Arlington School Board are up for grabs in the Nov. 7 general election.
In one contested race, two-term incumbent Ursula Ghirardo is being challenged by retired teacher Judy Fay.
In the other, Lyanne Rolf and Marc Rosson are running for the position being vacated by longtime board member Bob McClure.
All candidates either have had or have children who’ve attended Arlington schools.
Fay said it’s time for a teacher to be on the school board, while Ghirardo said her experience makes her the better candidate.
Ghirardo, 53, majored in chemical engineering at Stanford University and had jobs as a research and technical service engineer, business manager and lead for a plant expansion project. She’s also been a substitute teacher of geometry.
“I bring skills in strategic planning, project management, budgeting, data analysis, problem solving, decision making, communications and team building,” she wrote.
She has been on the district’s strategic planning and facilities planning committees as well as its Advisory Council for Education. She’s also been a presenter at three National School Board Association conferences.
Ghirardo describes the district’s four-pronged approach to serving students: learning and achievement, a safe and caring environment, resource stewardship and parent and community partnerships. Those goals serve as a filter for the many complex decisions made daily at every level, she wrote.
“I always try to balance the impact of short-term decisions with the board’s imperative of providing long-term vision and budget oversight,” she said.
Fay, 68, taught elementary school in the Arlington district for 30 years and earned a master’s degree in curriculum development. She and a teaching partner created a three-year rotation of thematic- and project-based learning instruction for 6- to 9-year-olds.
These days, she’s volunteering in her grandchildren’s classrooms, which has reinforced to her the importance of participation from family, teachers and community.
“I have been an education activist all my life; studying Piaget and Montessori in college, lobbying our Legislature in Olympia, negotiating on the bargaining team, and researching and implementing best teacher practices,” she wrote.
She pointed out that the district’s multi-age learning program was chosen by the school board to be presented at the National School Board Association conference in 2003.
Fay said a difference between the candidates is their backgrounds. “My opponent is from a business world,” she wrote. “I am from the world of public school educators; my father, sister, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, both other grandparents — also teachers.”
Rolf, 39, said she chose to run because she wants to lend her voice to ensure that all options are open to students once they leave high school.
“The schools are shifting toward helping kids prepare for whatever the next step in their life is outside of high school — whether that be a trade, university, community college or going right into the workforce,” she said. “I want to see the schools identify and tap into that potential as early as possible, then put them on that route.”
Rolf, who was recently hired as director of the Arlington Boys & Girls Club, wants more parent involvement. She and her husband have hosted foreign exchange students for the past 10 school terms. She’s also an Arlington Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce board member.
Rosson’s wife has taught in the Arlington district and he’s treasurer of the AHS Booster Club. He touts his technology and business background, which includes a bachelor’s degree in computer science and an MBA from Seattle University. Rosson, 51, led information technology departments and long-term planning efforts over the years. He now works for the Snohomish County PUD.
“Our schools are entering a time of dramatic changes associated with how we choose to fund our schools,” he wrote. “This will require a board that has a strong business and financial background to understand the options and plot a strategic long-term course that will deliver a thriving system as we stabilize our funding from state and local sources. I’m well-qualified to understand the options and to represent my community input into the decision-making process.”
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