News

Levy questions aimed at school board candidates

By NATHAN WHALEN

Staff reporter

Oak Harbor School Board candidate Bill Burnett had some questions to answer about his plan for levy dollars.

He wants to use maintenance and operations levy dollars for vouchers that parents can use to hire tutors for their children who have fallen behind.

He answered those questions during a candidates forum Thursday evening that was sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

Burnett was asked how the school district would administer such a program, how it would affect the current M and O levy and how diverting resources would affect higher-performing students.

He said it would be up to the school district to set up the staff to administer the position and screen potential tutors that are available to parents. He said that it would take a couple of years before results are available to see if the tutoring system is worth expanding.

Current school board member Corey Johnson, speaking from the audience, asked Burnett whether he would cut current programs funded by the levy to pay for the new tutoring program. If not, what would he use to pay for the program?

Burnett responded that he favors an increase in the levy, which is scheduled to go before voters in 2009, to pay for the tutors.

As for how his proposal would effect higher performing, he quoted Star Trek logic where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Those students have other existing outlets such as Advance Placement classes.

"I'm not too worried about those students academically," Burnett said.

Burnett and opponent David Sherman spent Thursday evening answering questions posed by residents ranging from their thoughts on the WASL to whether they would favor extending the school day. Frank Pulu is also a candidate in the race. However, he didn't attend the Thursday evening forum.

Both Burnett and Sherman agreed the WASL is needed to set a standard and evaluate what's taught in schools.

They were also asked about their thoughts on vocational education. Both also were in favor of those courses. Sherman said vocational classes are part of the education process for students, while Burnett said he doesn't object to vocational classes and any remediation students need should be done in earlier grades so they are free to take those classes in high school.

Both disagreed with the possibility of extending the school day. Sherman said teachers should work with the time they currently have and Burnett said that it would be too costly to add more time to the school day.

Thursday's forum was the latest in a series of public events where the school board candidates answered questions from the public.

Ballots went out to voters this week and they have to be postmarked by Aug. 21 to count. The top two candidates from the primary election will go on to the November election.

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