It’s Williams vs. Wilson and Paine vs. Honanie for school board

  • Jennifer Aaby<br>Enterprise writer
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 9:57am

Voters will have the opportunity to elect two people in contested seats to four-year terms on the Edmonds School Board on Nov. 8.

To represent District 4 on the board, citizens will choose between incumbent Bruce Williams, who has served two terms to date, and challenger Roger “Cowboy” Wilson, a retired teacher.

For District 1 on the board, voters will have the option of electing Gilbert Honanie, of Mountlake Terrace, or Susan Paine, of Edmonds.

District 4

Both Bruce Williams and Roger “Cowboy” Wilson have educational experience and similar concerns, but they also have differing views on several key issues.

Williams has enjoyed his time on the board and is running again “because I’m committed to three things: student achievement, professional development and management of our properties.”

Williams, 49, said discussion regarding the Washington Assessment of Student Learning is important, as it has brought positive changes to the test.

“By no means is it a perfect test,” said Williams, who has a medical practice in Edmonds and is the current president of the school board.

But he said as educators, families and students continue to learn more about the test, they will grow more comfortable with it. In addition, there will likely continue to be changes in an effort to improve the examination, he said.

He said he believes it serves a valuable role.

“Without measurement, I don’t think it’s possible to improve,” Williams said.

He said one education-related area that concerns him is dropout rates.

The school district is and should continue to focus on early intervention and prevention for at-risk children, he said.

It’s important for schools to determine where students are falling behind, he said, so students can be engaged as early as possible.

Williams, who has two grown children and one currently attending an Edmonds school, said he is excited about the possibilities facing the district regarding property sales and ground leases, and he said there are tremendous opportunities for taxpayers.

The district plans to rebuild Lynnwood High School on district-owned property east of Interstate 5 on North Road, which would make the current high school property available to lease to developers, Williams said.

Williams said it’s important to educate the taxpayers on the possibilities of the land and others.

The ground lease of the current Lynnwood High could provide a revenue stream to the district for 50 to 100 years, he said, which could defray the costs of many additional building projects down the road.

“Basically, the taxpayers get two-for-one,” Williams said.

He said he feels the community wants to see the school district be the best it possibly can and use district resources wisely.

“I think the greater Edmonds community … is a community that values education,” Williams said. “I’m excited about that.”

Wilson, 78, taught in public schools full time and as a substitute teacher. An Edmonds resident of 45 years, he had three children go through the Edmonds School District and has been impressed with the district. He does, however, see areas that can be improved.

“Why settle for good when you can be great?” Wilson said.

He said he is upset the schools aren’t supported enough by the state to complete the work necessary to increase student achievement on the WASL.

If elected, he would advocate taking the WASL to court and encouraging regular testing to monitor students’ progress more frequently.

With the rise in gas prices, Wilson is concerned that the district spends too much money on transportation.

“It’s time we got out of the busing business and stick with education,” he said.

He said buses determine when the school day runs, and he would suggest that students arrive at school at staggered times. Some students would begin earlier in the morning and end earlier, while others could arrive later and leave later in the day. This, he said, could give high school students more options for after-school jobs and could provide students who don’t perform well in the mornings with another option.

Wilson also said he is concerned students, such as homeless and dropouts, are being left behind. He’d like to work to improve the current situation, he said.

Another idea Wilson supports is altering substitute teachers’ salaries — paying them the amount the regular teacher would receive and thus giving the regular teacher the allotted substitute teacher’s pay.

Wilson also is encouraged by the district’s interest in selling and leasing property. He said taxpayers have a big decision to make in February, and he believes the district should work hard to educate the public on a personal level about the effect it will have on taxes.

Educating the public is important so as to “let people know their tax property won’t increase,” Wilson said.

He said, if elected, he would bring his experiences and knowledge to the board.

“I have some innovative ideas I’d like to get on the board,” Wilson said.

District 1

Candidates Gilbert Honanie Jr. and Susan Paine both are interested in providing support and learning more about the school district as they vie for the District 1 seat on the school board, which was vacated by Doug Fair in August.

The winner of this election will complete the remainder of Fair’s term, which is two years.

Honanie, who has been an architect and in the design and construction industries for 30 years, has two sons enrolled in the school district. He said in a written response to The Enterprise that he understands the needs of school facilities.

Areas he would like to focus on include understanding the WASL and the federal No Child Left Behind Act and how the district implements the requirements. One size does not fit all children, he said in a written statement

He also is interested in the budget’s needs and building stronger communication with the community.

Honanie could not be reached for further comment as of The Enterprise deadline.

Paine was appointed to the school board on Sept. 20 to fill the interim vacancy left by Fair until the election.

Her experience on the board of the nonprofit Small Faces Child Development Center in Seattle sparked her interest in becoming involved in the school board.

“This is a great time to be involved,” Paine said.

Paine has two daughters currently enrolled in Edmonds schools. She works part time with the Seattle Municipal Court and has been a project manager for at-risk youth.

Increasing student achievement on the WASL is a priority, Paine said, and it is important that the schools pull together.

“My belief is you will make bigger strides by working in the system,” Paine said.

Paine said her greatest concern is dropout rates. She said it’s important that schools have a method for tracking students to make sure they’re not leaving the system when they leave an Edmonds school.

She views the opportunity to build a new Lynnwood High as an important step “to provide a level of equity across the district.”

Managing the land is an important task for the district, and now is the time to begin moving forward, she said.

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