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School board hopefuls make pitch to voters
"Let the school board race commence.In hopes of distinguishing themselves from their opponents, seven South Kitsap school board candidates convened in a public forum at Farmhouse Ice Cream Parlour and Catering Wednesday morning.Four hopefuls from District 4 and three from District 3 are vying for respective seats held by incumbents Ken Ames and Doug Bear, both of whom have chosen not to run for re-election.The top two candidates from each district will be determined in the primary election Sept. 18, and the winner of each district will be determined in the Nov. 6 general election.The forum - sponsored by SK Business Networking - had each candidate speaking for five minutes followed by a question-and-answer period.District 3 candidates Christopher Lemke, Tamra Ingwaldson, Kathryn Simpson and Charles Venglar, and District 4 candidates Bob Meadows, Rebecca Moore and Gregg Scott stated their reasons for running and what their priorities are.While all seven candidates expressed their love of education and the community, differences and similarities were clearly defined by the time the final candidate spoke. One of the first questions asked by an audience member was who has regularly attended school board meetings.All raised their hands. However, when Bear asked who had regularly attended school board meetings prior to July 1, only Simpson and Meadows raised their hands.Between the five-minute forum and the question and answer session that followed, the objectives of all candidates were clearly stated.Lemke, who has been actively involved with SK community schools for the last 20 years, said public schools are the foundation of the community.I think education is what keeps democracy strong, Lemke said. Lemke said his experience as a mid-level manager with the federal government over the last 33 years would be an asset to the school board.I'm involved with budgets at work and do things as a team player, he said. I will use my team leadership skills, listen, and make quality decisions.Ingwaldson, a project manager for Qwest's global business markets, moved to Port Orchard in 1995.Her biggest priority is to help the students maintain academic achievement.Our expectations of our students, schools, teachers and communities are rising, Ingwaldson said. If we want educational excellence, we need to act. This means change.Ingwaldson said change must come through an actively involved community.Though conflicts can arise from change, this change could lead to a positive future.Ingwaldson said she is passionate, committed and skilled at leading SK's diverse community.Simpson said earning a seat on the school board would enable her to carry her passion for education further.She said her regular attendance at school board meetings over the past two years has enabled her to understand how the school board operates.Simpson said an improved communication with the community is vital to the future of SK schools.We need to communicate better, she said. Because of the roller coaster with levies people feel disconnected with their schools. Sincere communication and positive action are the keys to developing community consensus on vital school issues.Venglar said the biggest school issue is a new high school.My top priority is to get a new high school built to relieve the serious problems created by overcrowding, he said. I also want to bring the community and school board together by clarifying to the public the needs of our schools.Most candidates agreed a new school needs to be built because of the problems of overcrowding.Meadows, who was the first of the District 4 candidates to speak, had a different take on the issue, though.I know I want a new high school, but I don't know if we need one, Meadows said. Enrollment is not going up. It's gone down 1.4 percent. There will be simple declines in enrollment. If I had a choice, I'd want to reconfigure our grade schools and put ninth grade in high school.Meadows said he doesn't have any answers, but would talk to people and ask them what they want and why.Moore said her main priority is to improve academic achievement and stimulate more participation in extracurricular activities.Stating activities make a student a more well-rounded individual, Moore said building a new high school would not only alleviate overcrowding, but provide opportunities to more students.I think it would be great, she said. It's a necessity to build more structures.Contrary to Meadows, Moore said she sees an increase of enrollment coming in the next five years.She said the imminence of a second Narrows Bridge and growth at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard will lead to a larger enrollment in schools.Scott said his experience with diversity as a military dependent and grassroots lobbyist would be a contribution to the school board.I changed schools every two years, Scott said. I had to deal with culture shock every two years.Scott, a graphic designer and owner of his own company, said he understands the intricacies of policy making.We all have a stake in public education, Scott said. While not perfect, it all gets better when everyone participates. "