The Position 4 race for the Spokane Public Schools board of trustees comes down to experience.
Incumbent Rocky Treppiedi, 62, has it. Jerrall Haynes, 26, does not.
Treppiedi was appointed to the board in 1996 and has served ever since. He said he thought about stepping down, but when Jeffrey Bierman decided to leave, he was concerned the board would lack experience.
Treppiedi is probably better known in his role as the overly aggressive assistant city attorney who fended off complaints about the Spokane Police Department. Thankfully, he left that job. His stated views on public records are anathema to the newspaper’s mission and the public’s desire for open government.
Nonetheless, his knowledge and accomplishments in the education arena are undeniable.
He led the effort to bring full-day kindergarten to the district before that became a basic education mandate. The tougher grading standard, which was recently adopted, is something he’s wanted for many years. Now, he would like to see uniformity in how teachers apply it. He also pushed for the extended school day.
Treppiedi backed the wise move by SPS to become a charter school authorizer, the only school district to do so. He, along with his colleagues, worked hard to assure that new charters would complement district choices. If charters somehow survive the Washington Supreme Court ruling, SPS could be the model for how charters can be overseen by elected officials.
Perhaps most important of all, he was on the board that hired Dr. Shelley Redinger as superintendent, a move that’s given the district one of the more dynamic change agents in the country.
Because of the recent tension between the district and the Spokane Education Association, the board will be managing a delicate situation. Diplomacy and conciliation are not Treppiedi’s strong suits, and he needs to resist fanning the flames.
Haynes is a mechanic at Fairchild Air Force Base who is leaving military service soon and wants to turn to public service in Spokane. He is member of the local NAACP chapter and mentors children who need a positive male role model.
He is a bright, compassionate, promising prospect in a city that sorely needs diversity among its leaders. But at age 26, he is young and inexperienced and needs to do more homework on education issues before joining the board.
He wants the board to conduct more community outreach, and he would like to help build a bridge between the teacher’s union and the board. He says both sides should have communicated better with the public during the strike. He has the endorsement of the Spokane Education Association, and opposes charter schools.
We disagree with his charter school position, but we found him to be engaging and earnest. We hope Haynes sticks around and stays involved, because he has the potential to be a thoughtful and inspiring community leader.
However, in this contest, Treppiedi is more qualified.
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