Elections 2013: School board members sign on, off for positions


With the November election filing period less than a week away, two Sequim school board members have let their intentions be known. 

Virginia O'Neil, after 6½ years, has decided not to run again, whereas Bev Horan is signing on again for another four-year term after serving eight years. 

O’Neil, who was appointed following the departure of Dave Blake and ran for the position soon after, said she’s enjoyed her time with the board but believes turnover is a good thing.

“I wanted to leave before I get too tired,” she said. 

“Fresh faces are needed especially in volunteer boards. I encourage parents to be on the school board. I was on it while my three kids were in school. I want to give another parent a chance to take my place.”

Horan, who ran for Elna Kawal’s vacant position, said she’s excited about where Sequim schools are now and where they're going. 

“I think we're doing an incredible job and I want to be part of the next term because I think we're building on the things that need to be looked at,” she said. 

Two key points, Horan said, were that student success is being viewed from different models rather than just test scores and looking at the roughly 60 percent of graduates who don’t go on to college or trade schools. 

Neither board member knows who else would file. Horan has run unopposed both times and while she prefers to run unopposed, she said she would be willing to step up. 

In her tenure, Horan said she’s most proud of seeing the district move forward with more student-focused learning. 

“It's the individual learner that's most important,” she said. “How does that individual learner, learn it? How can we best work with what we have? I've seen incredible growth in our staff. That's really exciting for me.”

In the coming year, she sees hot topics focused around the Common Core, new learning standards for Washington students and the Teacher/Principal Evaluation Project, the way an administrator assesses faculty.

She’s holding off on talking about the state of Sequim’s school buildings until BLRB Architects finishes its assessment of the schools, too. 

“I'd love to upgrade our facilities,” she said. “But what can our communities support? They've been incredible with supporting us.”

Looking back on her two terms, O’Neil said she’s proud of multiple things — hiring two superintendents, maintaining a good budget during the worst economic downfall since the Great Depression, working well with the school board and maintaining the career technical education courses.

“I’m proud that in the time I’ve been involved in Sequim schools, the community’s culture of not supporting levies has changed,” she said. 

For her fellow school board members, she feels looking in-depth at the facilities is a good plan along with developing more plans to incorporate technology. 

Another hurdle, she said, will be implementing all-day kindergarten.

“It’s a have-to, but how are we going to?” she asked. “Even if the state funds it, they aren't going to fund a building and we don't have any extra space.”

Once her term is complete, O’Neil plans to continue being an advocate for children and being involved in any way the superintendent and board will use her expertise. 

“I’d be happy to speak with someone who is interested (in her position), and I encourage people to come to a board meeting,” she said. "It's really gratifying work.”
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