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Wednesday, May 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Education

Five candidates with education backgrounds file for school board seats

A Spokane Public Schools employee walks out to the bus line Thursday, May 1, 2008 . (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
A Spokane Public Schools employee walks out to the bus line Thursday, May 1, 2008 . (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Five candidates with varied ties to public education want to take them even further by seeking election to the Spokane Public Schools board of directors.

Two days into the filing period in Spokane County, all three open positions on the five-member board have drawn interest.

Two of the newcomers were employed by the district this year.

Eric Cultum, who works as a coordinator for the student services at Spokane Public Schools, is running for the two-year term in District 4, a position held by Brian Newberry.

Citing the district’s budget straits, Cultum said, “Our district is facing budget and financial challenges this year, but will continue to in the future.”

Cultum knows that firsthand, having been given a layoff notice in April. His employment with the district will end next month.

“The school board needs an experienced person in public education like myself, who understands the complexity of issues facing students, parents the community and all stakeholders,” said Cultum, who has worked 23 years in public education in Arizona and Washington.

Cultum originally filed for the District 2 position, but switched to District 4 on Tuesday morning.

Also on the ballot in District 4 is Erin Georgen, a district parent who said she wanted to “give back in a meaningful way.”

Georgen said she’s inspired by the experience of her daughter, who has ADHD and is thriving after transferring to Holmes Elementary.

This isn’t Georgen’s first run at public office. In 2016, she was an unsuccessful write-in candidate for a state Senate seat in District 3.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Newberry hadn’t revealed whether he plans to run.

District 2 also has two candidates so far, following the announcement last week by incumbent Deana Brower that she doesn’t plan to seek re-election.

A longtime educator, Kelli MacFarlane has worked as a substitute in Spokane since moving from New Mexico following her husband’s retirement from the Air Force.

“I’m running for a variety of reasons,” McFarlane said. “I want to see education in Spokane succeed, and with the latest turmoil I haven’t been seeing that.”

The other candidate is Jenny Slagle, director of Community Services for Better Health Together, a Spokane nonprofit.

Slagle serves on the district’s Diversity Advisory Council and was active in the PTG at Adams Elementary. The youngest of her four children graduated last year from Ferris.

“I’ve learned more each year about the different diversity and equity activities, but I definitely think there’s more work to be done,” Slagle said Tuesday.

Longtime education activist Nikki Lockwood has filed for the District 1 position held by board president and 13-year board member Sue Chapin.

On her campaign website, Lockwood cited her qualifications: chair of the Montessori parent group, member of the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee, the Human Growth and Development Committee, and the Superintendent’s Work Group on Restorative Practices.

She also works professionally with the American Civil Liberties Union.

“I am running for school board so that all kids in the district can thrive and have the opportunity to reach their full potential,” Lockwood said on the website.

Chapin has not declared her intentions.

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