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Three apply for open school board position

 

 

Sequim’s first day of school for 2014-2015 is Sept. 3, but the school district’s board of directors members have plenty on their summer agenda.

A trio of Sequim residents has applied to fill the district’s open board position, a position the board aims to fill on Aug. 4.

On Monday, school board members interviewed Steven Humphrey, Heather Jeffers and Jeffrey Killian, candidates for the Director District I position left open after Sarah Bedinger’s resignation in June.

Humphrey is founder and owner of a consulting firm and co-president of Olympic Peninsula Academy’s Parent-Teacher Organization.

“I consider education to be very important for a community,” Humphrey said in an interview with board members. “I know the Sequim School District is facing some tough issues. I can think of no better way to serve my community than to roll up my sleeves and get involved.”

Jeffers is an administrator at Avamere Olympic Rehabilitation of Sequim. “I have a vested interest in the Sequim School District,” Jeffers said. “I feel I have a lot to offer that may not be on the board … (and) a different perspective that might be unique.”

Killian had a 33-year career in telecommunications before moving with family to Sequim in 2002.

“We’re happy to be here because we chose to be here,” Killian said. “(As a board director) I would do my due diligence before I make a decision.”

The four school board members — president John Bridge and directors Bev Horan, Mike Howe and Walter Johnson — interviewed the candidates Monday, asking them a set of questions that included views about alternative education methods, relevant experiences and community involvement, views on strengths and weaknesses of the school district and more.

The board also queried candidates about why they thought the district’s recent school construction bond (a $154 million proposal in April) failed and what they would change in promoting a future bond.

“I think the board did not apply common sense regarding … what the community can afford,” Killian said. “The needs have to be prioritized.”

Jeffers said the proposal was too costly all at once and that the board should break up the proposal into smaller projects.

“The plan with the bond needs to be more clearly articulated,” Humphrey said. He added the first proposal lacked a sense of urgency and that a future proposal could benefit from clearer economic modeling, i.e. including details about bond interest rates and construction material costs.

The board expects to appoint a new director at its Aug. 4 meeting.

About the candidates

Jeffers is a licensed nursing home administrator of Avamere’s 115-bed facility, managing about 100 staffers. She is an active member of Sequim and Port Angeles chambers of commerce and is a member of the Young Peninsula Professionals Network.

Jeffers has a child entering the fourth grade at Greywolf Elementary School in the fall. She has worked as a social worker at Swedish Medical Center and the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle.

Killian was a member of the Board of Adjustment for Pequannock Township in New Jersey for three years. He is an advisor for The Order of DeMolay Leaders — a mentorship program for boys ages 12-21 — in Sequim and Port Angeles.

He has volunteered as a tax councilor with VITA/AARP and as a reader at Greywolf Elementary school. His son graduated from Sequim High School and he has a grandson at Helen Haller Elementary School.

Besides his involvement with Olympic Peninsula Academy, Humphrey is an active member of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife Kyra have lived in Sequim since June 2012. Their daughter Fiona, 14, enters Sequim High School as a freshman in the fall.

Humphrey studied music and fine arts and spent 35 years in both the public and private sectors, including managing nonprofit arts organizations in Seattle and Los Angeles. His consulting firm is Parnassus Analytics, LLC.

Other school board Monday action

The board reviewed changes to a policy regarding transgender students. The purpose of looking at the board policy, Sequim schools superintendent Kelly Shea said, is to align with changes to state law. Several meeting attendees voiced concerns regarding changes to the policy, with some speculating the changes would open the district to discrimination lawsuits the schools are trying to avoid. The board plans to look at the policy in more detail on Aug. 4.

The board heard from resident Kathryn McCready, who asked the board to consider opposing an application for a marijuana business in her neighborhood on Cassidy Road.

Board directors voted 3-1 (Howe dissenting) to sign a resolution from the Washington State School Directors’ Association that urges Congress to amend and reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Directors suspended talks about voting for a board vice president until after the new director is appointed, on or after the Aug. 4 meeting.

Shea asked the board to consider not renting out facilities such as the Sequim High School auditorium, after some groups were disappointed with the facility’s sound system.

“The wear and tear on our facilities makes (them less usable for our own students,” Horan said.

“I don’t know where these organizations should go,” Howe said. “We can rent them out as is.”

Shea noted the school district has new portables for Helen Haller Elementary School and that the district plans to buy two more next summer to be prepared for all-day kindergarten by the 2015-2016 school year.

 

 

Reach Michael Dashiell at editor@sequimgazette.com.

 

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