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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Vacated school board seat draws 5 candidates

Student achievement, budget among concerns

Five Spokane residents want the chance for a voice on Spokane Public Schools’ board of directors.

The candidates’ platforms range from one or two issues, such as math curriculum, to a broader view of holding the administration accountable for overall student achievement.

The candidates – Larry Vandervert, Deana Brower, Sally Fullmer, Rod Roduner and Bob Griffing – are vying for position 5, which is being left vacant by Garrett Daggett, who was elected to the 6-year term in 2005. Ballots for the Aug. 16 vote will be mailed out this week. The two candidates with the most votes will move on to the November general election, with the nonpartisan seat going to the winner of that matchup.

For two of the candidates, this is their second time running for school board.

Vandervert won election to the board in 1973, but resigned two years later to complete his Ph.D. in psychology at Washington State University. He was involved in the decision to rebuild North Central High School in its current location when there was a proposal to move it out to the Indian Trail area, which was growing rapidly.

The former Spokane Falls Community College psychology professor has published numerous articles, including one on school board innovation – “Vandervert on SkyHigh Innovation in the Boardroom” – and others on child prodigies and mathematics.

If elected, he promises “to ensure that all students reach or exceed individual learning goals as aligned with Washington state standards, with a special eye on English and math scores,” he said.

Brower, who is endorsed by the Spokane Education Association, ran against current board member Jeff Bierman last year and lost in the primary.

The former high school teacher has two children in Spokane public schools. She is a member of the Chase Youth Commission, member of the board of directors at YWCA and chairwoman of Citizens for Spokane Schools. She is also a member of the district’s Middle School Advisory Committee.

Brower thinks the addition of an experienced K-12 teacher would add insight to the board.

If elected, she knows the biggest challenge the board faces is balancing the budget.

Said Brower, “Cuts have to be made; where and how much to cut needs to reflect a strategic plan by our district to provide strong educational experiences which prepare all students for life beyond high school.”

Fullmer, Griffing and Roduner are new to the race.

Fullmer, 54, is a professional musician and private piano teacher. The mother of three has volunteered in Spokane public schools since 1999.

She is the founding member of Neighbors 4 Neighborhoods and current chairwoman of the Comstock Neighborhood Council.

Fullmer was at the forefront of last fall’s Jefferson Elementary School controversy. She favored keeping Jefferson at its current east-side location because of worries about losing green space – Hart Field – increased traffic in the neighborhood and the potential for decreased property values. Fullmer is currently a member of a group, Hart Field Preservation Organization, that’s attempting to sue the district for its decision to move the school.

The former educator thinks the board needs someone who “asks the tough questions.”

Roduner, 58, a Spokane native who retired from The Spokesman-Review, volunteers as a court appointed special advocate.

The father of five children says he’s seeking election because of “my binding advocacy for students, teachers, parents and all stakeholders in our children’s future.”

The former accountant, who worked in purchasing and inventory control for Cowles Publishing Co. until 2006, says his primary concern is the school district’s budget.

Griffing, 55, is a self-employed Department of Defense contractor, serving as Airman Ministry Center coordinator. His duties include helping airmen at Fairchild Air Force base organize recreational and community-building events.

Among his campaign contributors is Sue Chapin, current school board president, according to public records.

As a board member, Griffing would focus on strengthening board leadership, sharpening the budget focus to make the district “lean and mean,” and to refocus on the district on its main goal: “well-educated students.”

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