A longtime Nine Mile Falls School District board member faces a political newcomer in the November election.
Greg Flemming has served on the Nine Mile Falls board for 20 years. He faces Elise McCrorie, who lists herself as a software engineer on the Spokane County voters guide.
McCrorie declined to be interviewed. In her candidate statement in the voters guide, her focus aims to keep children safe online.
“She envisions a community where kids have the tools necessary to keep themselves safe online, and parents feel empowered to have difficult conversations around internet use and social media,” her candidate statement said. “Nine Mile Falls needs a school board director who can address the challenges of the digital age.”
Flemming believes the Nine Mile Falls School District did well with online and social distance learning and that the students were educated to the best of the staff’s ability.
He stressed masks are required in schools because of the state mandate, not as a result of a decision made by the school board.
“It’s regulated by the state. If our kids don’t wear masks and if we don’t (adhere to) the state mandate, we could lose our state funding, and that came directly from the superintendent of public instruction that instructed all of the districts across the state,” Flemming said.
Flemming said he would like Stevens County, the community and local experts to have more control over the scenario, but said the mandate is at the state level, so the district must adhere to it.
An influx of students is expected within the next three or four years as a result of a new housing development within Nine Mile Falls boundaries, Flemming said.
Flemming hopes eventually the district will build a new high school for the additional students as well as modernization and security purposes. But consideration of a bond measure to pay for that would be a few years away, he said.
Flemming said the safety and well-being of students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic is a priority. Flemming also said he would like more funding from Washington’s Prototypical School Funding Model as it “doesn’t supply the funding for schools to function properly.”
When asked about the potential of raising taxes for future levies, Flemming said the district tries to tax as little as possible but, “we usually have to ask for more in a smaller district … We don’t have the business infrastructure to spread out our tax base.”
Flemming believes his time on the school board is a major factor in why he remains a part of it.
“Being on the board for 20 years, I have gotten to know the district and the staff quite well. I think that plays a big part in it, being on the board for so long,” Flemming said. “I’m still very active with the board and the community.”
Flemming also believes that with challenges such as COVID-19, getting students caught up, and school finances as well as recent changes to the superintendent and some vice principal positions, it is not the right time to make a change on the board.
In a message for voters come November, Flemming expressed excitement in having students back in-person five days a week and requested the community to “get out and vote.”
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