Burnett, Sherman and Pulu compete for school board


Staff reporter

With Vicki Harring deciding not to run, several people are eager to take her place on the Oak Harbor School District board of directors.

Three people, William Burnett, Frank Pulu and David Sherman, are vying to fill Harring's seat on the school board. They will square off in a primary election Aug. 21 and the top two candidates will move on to the November election. Ballots are in the mail this week.

David Sherman, who is making his first jump into a public race, was debating between school board or city council, but settling on the school board.

"I am more of an advocate of the kids," Sherman said.

While he wants to serve on the school board, his children do not attend a district school. They are enrolled at Oak Harbor Christian School.

He said he chose to enroll his children in private school for religious reasons. He wants them to attend a school that starts and ends with prayer and teaches the Bible while giving them the good education.

Sherman, who is a project manager for Island Construction, has been attending school board meetings for months to help familiarize himself to issues facing the school district. He was also a member of the budget reconciliation committee that helped school administration sort through an announced budget shortfall.

With his attendance at school board meetings, he has learned views from teachers and parents as well as those of the school board members. He supported recent stadium and high school bond issues.

With 58 percent of his property taxes going toward state and local schools, Sherman questioned how the school funding is being spent and whether administration costs are too high.

He added there is a problem with student performance in math, especially for sophomores. He pointed out that the school district is attending to the problem right now but added that the school district doesn't have enough math teachers should additional courses are added.

Challenger Bill Burnett hopes the third time is the charm to get elected to the five-member board. The last two times he lost to incumbents. He hopes the fresh election will put him over the top.

Burnett is pushing two major issues this election. He wants to use levy dollars to provide cash incentives for poorer students. He is also proposing using levy dollars to provide vouchers to low-income families to hire professional tutors to help students with the WASL.

With so many students failing the math and science portions of the WASL, those students would benefit from a professional tutor while not taking away from teachers' instructional time during the day.

"It puts the problem back into parents' control and doesn't take time from the school day," Burnett said. "I think it's time to look at solutions like this."

Burnett said he would like the funding for these ideas added to the next levy that goes before voters in two years.

He was against the recent bond that funded construction of the new stadium, saying the site would have been better used for portables during the high school renovation. Instead, as he sees it, Clover Valley Elementary was closed to make room for a swing school to house freshman during the renovation.

Burnett does have a son attending Oak Harbor schools who will be a freshman during the renovation.

He described the renovation as overblown and questioned why the high school is expanding when enrollment is declining. "It's not a crisis, it's a management issue," he said.

Like Sherman, restaurant owner Frank Pulu is running for Oak Harbor School board for the first time.

It wasn't his first choice for elected office, however. He wanted to run for city council, but found out he doesn't live in the city limits. He then considered running for a spot on the cemetery district board, but joked it would look bad for a restaurant owner and cook to serve on such a board. Finally, he settled on running for the school board.

"Since I'm very active with sports and kids in the community, I thought I'd toss my hat in," Pulu said.

He is a member of the Rotary, the Masons and he supported recent school bonds and levies.

Pulu said he thinks the current school board is doing a great job and he is happy with the education his children receive.

If he makes it to the school board, he said he will listen first before making a decision.

"I'm going there and listen. When the water is boiling, you don't jump in there," Pulu said, adding that any action he takes will be in a positive manner.

The top two candidates from the Aug. 21 primary will move on to the November election.

There are two other people running for other spots on the Oak Harbor School Board. Incumbent David McCool is running unopposed, and Peter Hunt is running to fill the spot being vacated by Kathy Jones. Mark Pruyne had filed to run against Hunt, however, he withdrew shortly after the filing period ended.

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