October 26, 1995 in Washington Voices

Winners Of Central Valley Elections Face Superintendent Search, Bond Vote

By The Spokesman-Review

In the midst of a superintendent search and a $23 million bond proposal, eight people are vying for four positions on the Central Valley school board.

Common themes run through the candidates’ positions. Increase parental involvement. Focus on the superintendent search. Pass a bond to increase classroom space. But some new ideas, and new twists on old ideas, also have arisen.

Candidates go back and forth over local control of the district versus state and federal mandates, and the schools’ increasing social service role versus individual responsibility of parents and students.

The election could completely change the face of the board. For example, the four-woman, oneman board could become all men. Presently, two attorneys, a homemaker, a minister and a human relations manager for Community Colleges of Spokane make up the board. Some of them could be replaced by a Realtor, a Baptist pastor turned financial analyst, a retired computer programmer, a former teacher or an academic adviser for an aeronautical institute.

Make the superintendency a political position, voted on by the electorate, said George Springer, who also advocates a return-to-basics in education. Springer is running against Patty Minnihan for a position vacated by 12-year board member Linda Tompkins.

Challenge state and federal mandates and pull back local control of the school district, said Matthew Hawkins, Quincy Edmonds and Craig Holmes, running respectively against incumbents Kay Bryant, Cynthia McMullen and Cheryl Knighton.

Knighton said Central Valley is already in compliance with most state educational reform goals, but it’s important for the district to keep abreast of new developments.

“By keeping eyes and ears open, we’ll be well in line with what needs to be done,” Knighton said. “A strong district makes the community stronger.”

Holmes, Knighton’s opponent, advocates trimming the administration and electing conservatives to the school board. “Let’s have a conservative school board and a conservative superintendent in Central Valley,” Holmes said at a recent Fourth District Republican Action Club meeting.

Edmonds strongly promotes individual responsibility of parents and students. Schools should not be social service providers, Edmonds said. Students with social or behavioral problems pull a teacher’s attention from other students, who deserve the chance to learn, he said.

Edmonds’ opponent, incumbent Cynthia McMullen, said troubled children do place schools in a difficult position. But she said, schools have “no choice” but to handle those problems.

“It’s hard for a child to learn if they’re hungry or there’s violence at home,” said McMullen, an attorney.

Challengers and incumbents alike recognize the need to increase community involvement in the district. Many blame a disenchanted community with bond failures in recent years.

Incumbent Kay Bryant said the board’s “critical challenge” is making the public understand the school district’s needs. “We need their support,” she said. “How do we come to some common ground?”

Her opponent, Matt Hawkins said he hears a lot of “heartache” from parents about something he questions himeself: whether tax dollars are being spent properly.

“I don’t think (the school board) is hearing their public,” Hawkins said. Through his network of friends and family (his parents and many of his seven brothers and sisters and their families live in the Valley), Hawkins plans to find out what the community wants from its school district.

Patty Minnihan said her background as a teacher and active school volunteer will help her solicit input from people.”We need to look at helping the community understand the needs and expectations of the schools,” she said.

, DataTimes MEMO: See candidate profile by name.

See candidate profile by name.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email