What’s so special about this election? The May 2023 election is all about “special districts” – school boards, transportation district, recreation district, fire boards, health districts and more. And for Tillamook County this is a historic election. Never before have there been so many candidates on the ballot. Usually the ballot for this election has one name (or a blank) for the position. The May 2023 ballot will have eight races with multiple candidates for each position. So Tillamook County, it’s time to do your homework, and get to know who these people are that will be in charge of our schools, transportation, health, fire departments, water systems and more. It’s election time – and in Tillamook County there has been an increase in participation in our government process with many races having multiple choices. The Pioneer is proud to provide this opportunity for our community to make informed voting choices and learn about the candidates. We will post the candidate’s answers (that we received) in the contested races with multiple candidates. These questions were gathered from a diverse array of Tillamook County citizens, and provides an opportunity for constituents to compare candidates answers directly.
Here are the candidates for Neah-Kah-Nie School District #56 Board:
DIRECTOR, ZONE 2, 4 YR TERM
- We have hired a new superintendant for the 2023-24 school year. We need to do everything we can to help make sure the transition process goes smoothly for not only the new superintendant but also for the students and staff.
- The NKN School District has some unique funding as compared to other schools across Oregon. Part of our funding comes from money generated through timber that is harvested from our local forest. A new Habitat Conservation Plan that is in the works will drastically reduce the amount of timber that can be harvested in our region. This in turn will greatly reduce the funding that we receive for our district. We need to be fiscally responsible is decisions we make so that in the future we can maintain the same great level of education and opportunity that we currently offer.
- We need to make sure that our district is preparing the students for the future. We need to ensure that when they graduate, they have the tools they need to successfully go to college, enroll in a trades program or to just enter the workforce. I’m a strong supporter of the trades classes/programs. I believe that we have made great improvements in the trades classes and want to make sure that we keep offering and expanding these programs. These skills that students learn in school, not only benefit them but also our community.
2. If elected, what will be your priorities? One priority I have is supporting students who are homeless and living in poverty. I have attended several professional development training and conferences on this unique need. I am happy to see that almost every school in our district has a Family Resource Coordinator. The Community Health Center is another huge step towards mitigating the challenges these students face. Continuing to hold vision screening and the dental bus is imperative for our students’ health. The best way our district can expand on how it supports students who are homeless and living in poverty is by supporting students who are the first in their family to attend college. When I taught at NKN high school I was often an unofficial advisor for students who were intimidated by the process of applying for, securing money, and attending college. The bureaucracy and forms are overwhelming. By creating a mentor system we could find alumni and community members to help guide these students through the steps.
4. What issues do you believe the board needs to address? Please list 3 and your solutions/ideas. I call these issues my ABCs. Accessibility. Balance. Communication.
Accessibility means “the quality of being easy to obtain or use.” I want all students, from all backgrounds, skills, genders, races, religions, orientations, languages, and abilities to be able to access their right to a quality public education. Our district can access training that will help staff accomplish this vision through The Oregon Department of Education. Accessibility also applies to the community. Small things like making all community meetings accessible through Zoom will allow families who are deaf/hard of hearing the ability to use the apps that create closed captions. It would let a single parent who cannot find/afford child care the ability to stay informed with district meetings.
6. In your opinion, what attributes must a good board member have? A good board member must be willing to listen and compromise while keeping the best interest of students as their guiding light.
7. What is your vision for our community? My vision for our community looks like one big mosaic. We are all different from each other, sometimes broken and a little rough around the edges. The pandemic isolated us and illuminated our differences. I think it is time to step out and join hands again. When we come together and bind ourselves to a common vision like supporting students, we create something that is grander than what any of us could accomplish on our own.
DIRECTOR, ZONE 6, 4 YR TERM
- Why are you running for this position? I decided to run for school board to be a voice for the students and parents of our district. I feel that our school board members should be someone that families of our district know and feel that they can talk to about things.
- If elected, what will be your priorities? My priorities will always be first and foremost the students of this district followed by the staff, our students cannot be successful if our staff isn’t given the tools they need.
- What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve? I am the mother of four children that all currently attend Neah Kah Nie Schools, I have volunteered and coached youth sports for 5 years. Both of these things have given me the opportunity to be on the ground floor with students, parents, teachers and staff. I am an Office Manager and have been a tax preparer in the past, I know what it takes to make a budget work and that sometimes you have to think outside of the box to get things done.
- What issues do you believe the board needs to address? Please list 3 and your solutions/ideas
- If you could make one improvement to the work this board does, what would it be?
- In your opinion, what attributes must a good board member have? I believe that a good board member is passionate about our students’ success and doing what it takes to get there. I believe a good board member is someone who is involved in the struggles of a school as well as the accomplishments, there is always going to be good, it’s how you react to the bad that matters. A good board member will be an independent thinker who is not afraid to respectfully speak their mind to advocate for the best of our school district.
- What is your vision for our community? I would love to see our school community continue to provide our students with the tools they need to be successful in life by providing them with the support and dedication that they deserve. Our students, parents and staff deserve the best and it’s up to our school board to make sure they are doing everything they can to help them be successful.
- Why are you running for this position? I am an incumbent and have served on the Neah-Kah-Nie School Board for 7 years. I am also on the equity committee and feel our work is not done there.
- If elected, what will be your priorities?
- Continue equity work on the Inclusion Alliance
- See the HVAC project to its finish to provide clean air in the High School
- Continue to work in collaboration with the board, superintendent, and administrators for the best outcome for kids.
- What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve?
- 7 years on the board for NKN School District
- Past board chair of Tillamook Women’s Crisis Center
- 15 years on the City of Garibaldi Budfget Committee
- 31 years a school bus driver/manager for First Student
- What issues do you believe the board needs to address? Please list 3 and your solutions/ideas
- Ensuring the schools Continuous Improvement Plan is being put in place.
- Going through district policies to be sure they honor equity, diversity, and inclusion. I do this by being a stong partner on the Inclusion Alliance.
- Safety for students while at school. Being sure the HVAC system is installed.
- If you could make one improvement to the work this board does, what would it be? Work on solutions to the hybrid meetings so remote attendees do not miss what is being said at the meetings.
- In your opinion, what attributes must a good board member have?
- A strong committment to do what is best for the students in our district
- Time to be prepared for meetings and be involved in other board business
- Experience or willingness to seek the experience to be a thoughtful member of the school board
- What is your vision for our community? That we come to realize that these students are our future and our community is best served by helping them to achieve their greatest goals. We do so by modeling for them what being a great community member looks like.
DIRECTOR, ZONE 7, 4 YR TERM
1. Why are you running for this position? I always try to give back to my community. I’m currently a Bay City Firefighter. I already volunteer at Garibaldi Grade School. I have two children at GGS. I was a teacher and administrator for ten years, with a Master’s in Education. I will bring focused ideas to the table to make the district impactful for all of our students.
2. If elected, what will be your priorities? My priorities will be varied. I will push for an inventory of school staffing and resource needs and then work to provide as much as possible – teachers need tools. Schools need staff, especially support staff and special education. I will advocate for a standardized approach to seeking and accessing grant dollars to augment a fluctuating budget. I will look to expand career education in the district and partner with local trade schools, universities and businesses to make it happen.
3. What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve? I was a classroom teacher for seven years and an administrator for three. I have a Master’s in Education. My first teaching position was at a treatment facility for teens. Overall, I have supported children and families for 20 years as an educator and social service worker. I understand family dynamics, the effects of poverty, and the social determinants of health. I currently work as a business analyst to align services and resources across many different sectors. I would use these skills to benefit the district by making cost effective efforts to reduce duplication of costs and effort and to solidify sustainable funding and staffing processes.
4. What issues do you believe the board needs to address? Please list 3 and your solutions/ideas
a. Conduct a needs assessment for each school/staff and each building. I would want the board to have a clear and detailed understanding of these needs. I am committed to ensuring that schools are in safe and working order, that classrooms have adequate staffing, and teachers have the resources and tools to do their jobs. All of these things benefit students.
b. Review the budget and revenue streams, which are unstable and unpredictable. I would move to create a full-time grant coordinator position in the district. I would partner with the new GEAR UP program to leverage spending that will benefit all schools and students when applicable.
c. Point to the “why?”. Students are in school so that they can be adequately prepared to enter adulthood and the workforce. Career education and post-graduate opportunities should be a regular topic throughout a child’s education. I would move to create a Career Council composed of school staff and leadership, parents, local colleges and trade school staff, and local business leaders. This would be a think tank and advisory body to assist the district with providing a robust career education structure. We need regular career fairs/days, presentations about particular fields or jobs, opportunities for job shadowing and internships, and visits to industries, trade schools, and post-secondary schools.
5. If you could make one improvement to the work this board does, what would it be? I would like to normalize practices around gathering parent and community input. I would like regular surveys and listening sessions to be a part of the board’s operations. The board should hear directly from parents and staff about what they want and need to successfully educate our community’s children.
6. In your opinion, what attributes must a good board member have? Curiosity. I, for one, don’t have all the answers. But I love to learn and ask questions. I think having the humility to seek out understanding makes a good board member. I believe patience is also important. The ability to listen and, more importantly, hear what others are saying is vital. I feel collaboration is needed to build consensus and find common ground, both with the community and amongst the board. Finally, I believe that a board member should check the ego at the door – it’s about the kids.
7. What is your vision for our community? I envision a community that is connected. The school is the epicenter of family and community life. The district should be making intentional and targeted outreach to all families. The tent is large, and all are welcome.
1. Why are you running for this position? This race is about our young people. I am running because our young people are in crisis and have been for quite some time. Young people continue to witness and experience school shootings, teenage pregnancy, child sex-trafficking, fentanyl deaths, substance misuse, addiction, obesity, suicide, oppression, hunger, discrimination, child abuse/neglect, homelessness, bullying, food insecurity, cruelty, isolation, loneliness, and other social issues. Big T and little t trauma is plaguing their lives. If their basic needs and safety are not being addressed, we are failing them.
2. If elected, what will be your priorities? Listening to our young people. Giving them a voice, and addressing their needs.
3. What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve? I am a lifelong learner and have applied my learning and experiences into my practice of not only improving my life, but the lives of others. To maintain my professional license and certification, I am required to take up to 80 hours of continuing education every two years. I often exceed those hours by well over the required amount and have supervised several therapists who have earned their licenses to practice independently. I have served and volunteered on a few different boards and local government council in the local community. I have a passion for serving, volunteering, and community organizing.
4. What issues do you believe the board needs to address? Please list 3 and your solutions/ideas. The Neahkahnie Board has to address it’s fiscal responsibility with regard to the waining and downward trend in funding from the Tillamook State Forest timber revenue. The board needs to address this matter because as these revenues fluctuate, expenditures continue to rise. As stated in the recent proposed 2023-2024 budget for the district, it is important to stress that timber revenue is always uncertain. There is also an increase in property taxes and an increase in staff costs which resulted in a downward trend in the ending fund balance. The 2023-2024 proposed budget also states that the Neah-Kah-Nie School District is one of the few select districts in Oregon that does not receive State Basic School Support funding. All things considered, it is imperative that the district staff and School Board maintain strong leadership. I believe I have the leadership qualities to help make that possible.
5. If you could make one improvement to the work this board does, what would it be? Inviting and allowing our young people to be a part of the process. From the Voice of America website: “The National School Boards Association (NSBA) found that in at least 31 states (Oregon included), local districts can choose to have student board representatives.”
From the NSBA website: “The Eugene School District (OR) has a unique “Student Advisory Panel” that sits with the board at all regular public meetings and represents students’ interests. The panel consists of one representative from each high school.”
6. In your opinion, what attributes must a good board member have? Board members need to find a balance between being conservatively and fiscally responsible and providing a robust education that properly prepares our young people to be responsible and successful contributors to society. Board members need to have excellent communications skills to communicate, negotiate, and deliberate among each other, school administrators, the superintendent, parents, local businesses, government, grant writers, and students.
7. What is your vision for our community? My vision is that our children become more actively involved in our democracy by having a place at the table at the monthly School Board meetings. A student advisory panel is one way that this can be accomplished. They are uniquely positioned to provide their creativity and insider viewpoints. They can see the system from the inside out and can bring a fresh perspective to the board.
- Why are you running for this position? I am running for the Neah-Kah-Nie School Board because I believe our students, staff, administrators, and community deserve leaders on the Board who are dedicated to making good decisions that serve the best needs of the district. We have a brand new Superintendent starting this year and I want to be sure that the board is ready to help him to engage with the community and learn our priorities. I believe we need to provide our students with the tools to learn and train to be successful in life no matter where they chose to go. I can support the Neah-Kah-Nie School District to set goals and be accountable to our students. From Pre-K to our High School Seniors we need to provide safe learning environments where our students receive high quality instruction, are meeting state learning outcomes, and where they are engaging in meaningful extracurricular activities that inspire and motivate them. I hope you will trust in me as a committed member of your community. I am asking for your vote. To learn more about me by visiting https://electheidiluquette.weebly.com
- If elected, what will be your priorities? In the first year, my top priority will be to support the new Superintendent. Neah-Kah-Nie School District hired a new Superintendent who will start on July 1. It is critical that the Board support the new Superintendent to engage with the community and learn our priorities. It is our role as Board members to be sure the leadership for the district is prepared to carry out the key initiatives in place and has the vision to see the District into the future.
- What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve? I have spent the past twelve years of my career working in the field of education. I have been an administrator in K-8 and in higher education. I have experience passing bonds, writing grants, engaging a community, listening to input from faculty, staff, and students, being accountable for achieving student success outcomes, and managing public funds. I will use my experience and critical thinking skills to help make difficult decisions to be sure our district is acting responsibly, fiscally, and equitably. I have served on the Neah Kah Nie School District Budget Committee for the past two years and I am an appointed member of the Tillamook County Housing Commission. Both of these roles require me to think holistically about solutions to complex problems that can have long term impacts on our community. I love participating in both and take pride in understanding the issues, who is impacted by the decisions being made, and working collaboratively with others to problem solve. I am also the incoming President for the American Association of University Women Tillamook branch. This year I am the Co-chair for the STEM event recognizing student achievement in our three high schools for students excelling in STEM fields. I am a past president for Food Roots a local nonprofit that partners with our elementary schools to provide science based education. I understand the role of a school board and the function it serves.
- What issues do you believe the board needs to address? Please list 3 and your solutions/ideas. Here are a few issues I believe need to be a focus.
Fiscal Stability of the District: NKN School District is uniquely funded. Only three districts in all of Oregon are funded the same way. We rely on revenue from local property taxes and state timber tax with no State Basic School Support funding from Oregon. With the prospect of declining timber tax revenues due to the Oregon Habitat Conservation Plan that is anticipated to go into effect this next year, it will be critical for the District to be educated about revenue options and prepare for how to fill future funding gaps without lessening opportunities in the classroom. This will be hard work and I have experience managing budgets, public funds, and making critical and informed decisions.
Student Success: NKN has many resources available to support students. Examples include guidance counselors, the health clinic, family resource centers, behavioral programs, and talented and gifted programs. I would want to see this continue. Additionally, the district has talented teachers in the high school who can teach dual credit which provides students with college credits. By partnering with the local community college NKN students are able to graduate with two year college degrees and credits that can transfer to a university. This saves family’s money on future tuition and student’s time to complete their degree. Retaining talented teachers is important. Areas for improvement could include more pathways for students in Career Technical Education programs that allow student to be trained and career ready in a trade at graduation. Also of critical focus is the need to address learning gaps for students who have falling behind during the pandemic. We need classroom level resources and support to help every student to be learning at grade level.
Safety: I am concerned about the safety of our students. School shootings are a national crisis. The district has taken steps to limit public access at all schools and has installed additional locks and card readers. Students have been participating in drills for over a decade now on how to lock down, lock in, shelter in place, and evacuate. Staff receives professional development in how to identify potential threats and lead during a crisis. Even with these measures in place it’s still not enough. We need to assess each building’s safety readiness annually and budget to improve safety as needed across the district.
- If you could make one improvement to the work this board does, what would it be? I can’t really assess this until I am in the boardroom and participating in the governance process. I don’t’ want to make assumptions on what the board is or isn’t doing without first-hand experience participating in the process.
- In your opinion, what attributes must a good board member have? Characteristics of a good board member include, empathy, courage, strategic thinking, and mutual respect for fellow Board members and District members. A Board member needs to be able to think holistically to solve complex problems and consider multiple viewpoints to make the best decisions.
- What is your vision for our community? My vision is a thriving community that shows up for each other. I want to see this school district continue to be full of community support because together we are strong. I want to see alumni and community members at our student athletic games, robotics tournaments, and student art shows. Even if we are not on a winning streak, I want to see us show up because that is when the students need us the most. I envision an environment where parents feel welcome in classrooms and understood and heard by the administration. I believe that strong local schools build a strong local economy. This means businesses can hire an educated and trained local workforce and students see a future for themselves staying in our community. I am excited to be a part of the work ahead and I hope you will vote for me for me as a new member of the Neah-Kah-Nie School Board.