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Wednesday, November 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Treloar, MacFarlane and Morrison for SPS board

All six candidates for the three open seats on the Spokane Public Schools board are committed to doing right by Spokane’s kids. They disagree on some important issues but never doubt each one’s passion for education.

Yet elections are about choices, and the differences matter. Having studied the candidates’ records and positions on the issues, we recommend Katey Treloar, Kelli MacFarlane and Kevin Morrison.

Position 1 – Katey Treloar

Treloar is a product of Spokane Public Schools. It’s not just that she attended the city’s schools as a child, which she did. She returned as a teacher and a mother with kids now in those schools. She also has been a volunteer with organizations that support students, especially Bite2Go, which helps children experiencing food insecurity.

In other words, Treloar, of all the candidates, probably knows Spokane schools from top to bottom best. That depth of knowledge and experience will prove invaluable if she wins a seat on the board.

On the issue that has gotten the most attention in recent months – security in schools – Treloar is open to arming security officers. She did not rush to that conclusion, but rather read the Safe Havens report and spoke with school employees first. Such patience in awaiting all the facts and analysis speaks well to how she would lead on the board.

The same cannot be said about her opponent, Nikki Lockwood. She came out against armed security months before the report was released. Her mind was made up. Such ideological posturing was not particularly surprising given that she is an organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union.

She instead supports creating a healthy environment on campus full of mental health therapists and social emotional learning. While those should certainly be part of a modern school, they do not preclude having a trained officer ready to respond to a worst-case scenario if necessary.

Treloar also promises to bring fiscal responsibility to the budget-challenged district. Voters would do well to choose her experience and practical approach to education.

Position 2 – Kelli MacFarlane

MacFarlane is another long-time educator hoping to serve on the board. Most of her teaching experience was outside Spokane, but that should not deter voters from casting their ballots for her. She is particularly focused on repairing the district budget, emphasizing the need for pro-active planning over crisis response.

Of the three races, this is the closest call. Jenny Slagle, MacFarlane’s opponent, would bring important perspective to the board with her extensive experience advocating for historically underserved communities. She isn’t an educator, but she has more than a decade of experience working with tribal groups.

Two things tip the scales in this race. First is that MacFarlane is more open to education alternatives like charter schools. The standard public school model isn’t for everyone, and Washington must continue to explore new teaching environments. Second, Slagle has an unfortunate tendency to fall back on buzzwords over substance. Spokane’s students need a school board focused on the nuts and bolts of education, which MacFarlane will do.

Position 4 – Kevin Morrison

Neither candidate in this race is an educator, but Morrison has worked for Spokane Public Schools in non-teaching roles for 15 years. He has been a leader on capital projects, community relations and campus safety. Those are all areas of expertise that will serve the new board well.

With so much knowledge of the administrative side of things, his voice in upcoming decisions will be invaluable. For example, he does not reflexively oppose arming campus safety officers and he hopes to use his insider knowledge to improve budget efficiency.

His opponent, Erin Georgen, simply does not bring comparable expertise to the race. She is a parent and has been involved in the PTA, but that is not enough to warrant a vote over Morrison.

This year’s school board elections have additional importance because there are three open seats on the five-member board. That means that the newly elected board could have a clear majority to implement policies if they are all in agreement. We urge whichever candidates wind up winning to resist that temptation. Take some time to learn more about your new position. Even the most well-informed candidates have a lot to learn once they are in office. There’s no rush. You’ll have six years. Spokane children’s future is on the line.

Endorsements are made solely by the ownership group and publisher of this newspaper. As is the case at most newspapers across the nation, The Spokesman-Review newsroom and its editors are not a part of this endorsement process.

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