October 3, 2013 in Washington Voices

K-8, bonds key debate topics

East Valley board candidates will meet twice more
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Debates

EV School Board candidates

Oct. 12 at the Steel Workers Union Hall, 14015 E. Trent Ave., 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Oct. 16 in the Trent School auditorium, 3303 N. Pines Road, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

For more information, call Mindy Stewart at (509) 280-6050.

East Valley school board candidates

District 5

• Deanna Ervin has lived in the East Valley School District her whole life and has two children, an eighth-grader and a third-grader, who attend East Farms. She is branch manager of a local credit union.

• Mike Novakovich, a 15-year resident of East Valley. Three of his children graduated from the district and he has a sophomore at the high school. He owns his own business.

District 3

• Justin Voelker has lived in the area for four years and has two children who attend Trentwood. He is chief financial officer of Valley Medical Center.

• Heidi Gillingham is an East Valley graduate with two children in the district, a senior and an eighth-grader at Otis Orchards School. She has been on the board four years.

District 4

• Kerri Lunstroth has been on the board for eight years and has lived in the district since 1991. She works in a dental office and has a daughter who attends the high school.

• Fred Helms is a retired environmental lab technician from Kaiser Aluminum-Mead.

With the elections just about a month away, one parent in the East Valley School District is organizing debates for school board candidates.

“My goal is to make all of the candidates available to all the stakeholders in the community,” said Mindy Stewart. The first of three was Tuesday at Starr Road Baptist Church.

Each candidate was given two minutes to introduce themselves before questions from the audience were drawn from a basket. Each had a minute to respond to the question, and if they chose, a 30-second rebuttal.

All of the candidates were present except Fred Helms. Stewart said he expects to be at the next two debates.

Moderator Todd Alexander, a youth pastor from Post Falls, asked the questions.

One question asked if the candidates support or oppose the K-8 plan. Incumbents Heidi Gillingham and Kerri Lunstroth supported it, Justin Voelker, Deanna Ervin and Mike Novakovich opposed it.

The two incumbents said there have been bumps in the road, but both believe they have done the best they can with the resources available to them.

Ervin and Voelker said they oppose the current implementation of the K-8 system and prefer the middle school model.

Novakovich said he felt the district pushed the plan through too quickly, without planning for lockers or enough room at the schools.

One question asked candidates what it would take for the district to pass a construction bond – something it hasn’t done since 1996.

Voelker said the plans should be to fix the buildings, rather than build a new performing arts center or put Astroturf on the football field.

Ervin said the district needs to better communicate what it’s asking taxpayers for when they seek a bond, rather than relying on children to bring the information home with them. There is also a large population in the district that doesn’t have children in the schools, but their property value is affected by the school district.

Gillingham said the community has said the poor economy has affected their votes and the district should do what they can with what they have. She said she believes they have been continuing to raise the graduation rates and communications, and prefers the next bond to come from the community, rather than the board.

Lunstroth said a bond must be community-driven if it is going to pass. She said the staff is doing a great job keeping aging buildings in good shape for students. She added the district recently asked the community to approve a levy in which they asked for the maximum allowed to maintain its budget and it passed.

Novakovich said the community didn’t want to approve a performing arts center or a field with Astroturf. If the district explains they need boilers and other essential fixes, the community will support that.

Other questions posed during the two-hour debate included what the top five objectives of each candidate are, what are the candidates’ ideas about the future of East Valley, why the board approved a nonvoted debt to purchase portables for the elementary schools, how each candidate plans to make a notable difference in the district and what is happening at the enrichment center.

Ballots for the general election will be mailedOct. 16 and 17 and are due Nov. 5.

Get stories like this in a free daily email


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus