ARLINGTON – The School Board’s sole contested race pits two candidates with deep knowledge about the inner workings and issues facing the school district and state education system.
Jim Weiss and Sheri Kelly submitted answers to a questionnaire from The Arlington Times. Here is what they shared.
Weiss: I decided to run for another term to continue guiding the district in doing the great work they do. Our Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum is important, and I would not want to see that go by the wayside. I am also concerned with closing the opportunity gap using facts provided through constant evaluation of student learning. I continue to strive for every possible opportunity we can give students to be successful, not only in school, but in life. Whether it be the arts, sports, career, military or college bound, every student should be offered equitable access to the programs we offer and be engaged in their learning from kindergarten to graduation and beyond.
Kelly: To use my passion, skills and considerable experience to assist our community through a time of growth and big-city challenges.
Weiss: My 16 years on the board have prepared me to be well educated in the inner workings of the public school systems of accounting, curriculum, operations and numerous unique business requirements handed down from our state and federal governments.
Kelly: My grandparents were teachers and instilled in me the importance of a child having a solid educational foundation to ensure proper development. I was a kindergarten teacher on Guam, followed by teaching at the San Francisco and Whidbey Island Waldorf schools, and then through homeschooling my three daughters. I have been a member of the district’s Advisory Council for Education for five years. It is through committee membership that I was introduced to the goals and agenda set forth annually by the school board. I have also served as director of Fine Arts with the AHS Booster Club and as an advisor for the YMCA Youth and Government program. Both gave me valuable insight as to how clubs and organizations supplement a child’s education. My experiences have provided me the opportunity to meet parents, teachers and administrative staff. This exposure has given me a clear understanding of both the district’s goals and concerns of the parent body.
Top 3 issues
Weiss: 1. Transparency in union negotiations – I would like to see the district and its bargaining unions have open, agreed upon data-driven discussions seeking the best possible outcomes. This would aid in having negotiations where we are working together for the betterment of the district and not an adversarial “Us vs Them” showdown at the final hour.
2. Special needs students – This population has been increasing and while the funding required for all special handling and documentation has increased some, we are still far behind in fully funding those students.
3. Increasing STEM opportunities – STEM opportunities, along with increasing rigor, in the classrooms for all students to be career and college ready is a priority. The world in which they live and become part of is ever-changing. Young people today not only compete on a local scale, but on a global scale as well.
Kelly: 1. Facility improvements are needed to replace deteriorating, unsafe classrooms and to increase the size to existing structures to accommodate student growth. Two such facility improvements are the replacement of Post Middle School and the addition of a wing at Arlington High School.
2. It is important to work with local legislative representatives to ensure that Arlington’s interests are understood with respect to new constraints put in place regarding the McCleary ruling and future state funding.
3. Continue the course Arlington has already set in providing a quality education. Education involves all of us; education is a community responsibility that we owe to our youth. It is through community involvement, parental participation, and talented, motivated educators that our students will be in a supportive, nurturing environment enabling them to thrive and become successful adults.
Why vote for you?
Weiss: In my 16 years on the board I have constantly been learning about the inner workings of the district and the state’s funding and curriculum requirements. My learning curve is not as steep as someone who is newly elected. While I do not doubt my opponent and her ability to learn, I can be more effective right from the beginning.
Kelly: What separates me is my experience as an educator, dedication and commitment to student success, and my ability to see the needs of the district from both the educator’s and the parent’s point of view.