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Two school board positions contested

Three Oak Harbor School Board positions are on the ballot in November, with two candidates each for position one and two, and board newcomer David McCool running unopposed for his seat.

School board Vice President Kathy Jones is facing Whidbey Parks and Recreation board member Brien Lillquist for position one, while school board President Vicki Harring will go against retired pilot Roy Seth for position two. Board member David McCool, who was selected by the board to replace John Dyer at position three in June, is running unopposed, after business owner Mike Quinn dropped out of the race. Quinn, a political first-timer had a snafu with his state paperwork when he failed to file state forms on time. When he got a letter from the state saying he was facing a $200 fine for late filing, he decided to rescind his bid for the school board seat.

“The timing didn’t work out,” he said.

The unpaid school board members serve for four years. Members elected this year will join Kathy Chalfant and Gary Wallin on the board.

Jones vs. Lillquist

Jones said she would like to continue efforts made in her first four years to lower class size and improve the quality of the district’s curriculum.

“I hope to see expanded alternative school opportunities and closer attention to why kids drop out,” she said. “I would like to see students who are not successful in a large school environment provided other options.”

She also hopes to continue to put pressure on the state Legislature to adequately fund education.

“Since the state constitution says they should pay for 100 percent of basic education, they should do so,” she said. And she vows to continue to work on getting the federal government to share the cost of educating students of military personnel, and for the education of special needs students.

Locally, she would like to see more partnerships between the schools and the community, such as by volunteering in the schools and voting in support of local maintenance and operations levies.

“I would like to help local taxpayers see that a local maintenance and operation levy is essential to completing the academic goals of the district,” she said.

Lillquist feels he can bring a new perspective to the board.

“If elected to the board, I don’t think I would be on the same train,” he said, and he doesn’t think that’s a bad thing. “Maybe it’s good to have one person on the board who is out of step with the rest of them — instead of agreeing in lock-step.”

He twice voted against the high school remodel bond, and says he favors a piecemeal approach rather than lumping all features in one bond, and that the performing arts center was not needed. He feels his views reflect the desires of the community.

Lillquist said the school board should stop operating based on their own separate “agendas,” and give the superintendent a larger role.

“I want to give total control back to the school superintendent,” he said. “Someone has to be held accountable.”

While this is his fourth run for school board, he has not attended a school board meeting in years, calling it “a self-admiration society meeting.” He stays informed on school district issues by reading the district Web site and the Whidbey News-Times.

He said the most important challenge facing the school board and district is getting students to pass the WASL and meet the graduation requirements for 2008. He would like to see the community more concerned about this as well.

“It seems like there are lot of letters to the editor about the stadium, but none about the 2008 graduation requirements.”

Harring vs. Seth

Harring would like to retain her seat on the board, as she feels she has invested a lot of time into learning the position, and the district has invested a lot of time in training her.

“They have allowed me to go to professional growth seminars and conferences to learn my job,” she said.

While school board members are most visible at their twice-monthly pubic school board meetings, Harring said in reality they have meetings of some sort almost every day. Each board member acts as a liaison for two district schools, and attends PTA and general school meetings.

Harring sees the school board’s role in the school system as one of finding funding for the schools, and giving teachers the tools they need to do their job.

She would like to continue to work on academic accountability, and seeing that all students learn at grade level.

“We need to catch all kids,” she said.

Roy Seth decided to run for the school board position when he had a groundswell of “coffeeshop talk” supporters. Seth has attended half a dozen school board meetings, and was surprised to see that none of the other candidates who applied for John Dyer’s seat in April went on to run against McCool in this election.

He said he didn’t chose to run against Harring for any personal reasons, but because as of the last minutes of the filing period she was still running unopposed.

“I’m not running against her, I’m running for the school board,” he said.

His goals are to improve the board’s community relations, and make the schools a community resource.

As a 30 year resident of Oak Harbor, Seth said he has seen Oak Harbor schools go from a place where people wanted to send their children, to a district with a negative image. As a Realtor he sees Whidbey Naval Air Station personnel, particularly officers, opt to live in Anacortes or Coupeville because they think the schools are better there. He would like to see that change.

“The schools here are better than the perception,” he said.

As part of the district’s image improvement plan, Seth would like to see the district’s facilities be more available to the community.

With the next round of base closures looming, Seth said now is the time to start improving the district’s image.

Kathleen Jones

Position 1

Age: 51

Family: Husband J.J., two grown children

Employment:Accountant, owner Jones Accounting Associations, Oak Harbor

Education: B.A., College of Notre Dame of Maryland

Experience: Citizen school district budget review team, school attendance policy and credit restoration team, high school graduation committee, president high school parent advisory committee, school board member since 1998, board president two years, currently vice-president.

Brien Lillquist

Position 1

Age: 57

Family: Single

Employment: Retired Navy

Education: Three years college

Experience: Two terms North Whidbey Parks and Recreation board

Vicki Harring

Position 2

Age: 53

Family: Husband Ron, an adult son and daughter.

Employment: Professional volunteer.

Education: BS in Business Management, University of Maryland.

Experience: Four years on board, two years school board legislative representative, board vice president, currently president.

Roy Seth

Position 2

Age:58

Family: Wife Carol, two grown children

Employment: Retired Navy captain, A-6 pilot, retired United Airlines pilot, owner, Seth Appraisal Services, associate broker, Windermere.

Education: BS in Industrial Technology, Cal State Fresno, Master’s in Human Resource Management, Pepperdine.

Experience: Past Rotary president, first bid for elected position.

You can reach News-Times reporter Marcie Miller at mmiller@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611

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