Battle Ground School Board Battle Ground candidates confront fiscal realities

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Battle Ground School Board Candidates

District 4

Mavis Nickels

Age: 72

Background: Nickels taught in Battle Ground schools from 1976 to 1999. She was the math and science department head for Prairie High School and spent 10 years as a consultant coordinator of student assessment and a teacher mentor for the district. She also taught at Concordia University in Portland and is a member of the American Association of University Women. She also served on the Washington State Mathematics Commission as a trainer, writer and editor of assessment tests. Nickels farms blueberries and is an official with Village EcoSystem, a nonprofit corporation. Additionally, she has helped build approximately 20 homes in Clark County working for Nickels Construction.

Money raised: None

Endorsements: Building Industry Association of Clark County

Chris Webber

Declined to comment on his candidacy to The Columbian.

District 2

Ken Root

Age: 51

Background: Root is a graduate from Chico State University in California, where he received a bachelor’s degree in education. He is the West Coast regional sales manager for Rosenberger of North America, a supplier of test and measurement devices for microwaves. He has been involved in the community through youth sports, the Battle Ground High School Athletic Booster Club and Grad Night Committee, the Battle Ground Auction Committee, the PTA, and as former president of the Battle Ground Band Booster Club. He is also the co-founder of Apollo’s Rainbow, a nonprofit foundation for diabetes, as well as a former board member for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

Money raised: None

Endorsements: Battle Ground Mayor Mike Ciraulo and his wife, Gilda; Building Industry Association of Clark County and the Battle Ground Education Association.

Amy Wheaton

Age: 40

Background: Wheaton is a member service associate for Columbia Credit Union. She is involved in the community through her children as treasurer for the Chief Umtuch Middle School PTO, a member of Captain Strong Primary School PTA and a volunteer in their classrooms. She is also active in sports and afterschool activities, as well as at her church.

Money raised: None

Endorsements: None

Battle Ground school board candidates emphasize the importance of protecting education against budget cuts as the November election approaches.

Ken Root, who was appointed to the Battle Ground school board in April 2011, is defending his District 2 seat for the first time against Amy Wheaton in the Nov. 8 election.

Root has been involved in community organizations and activities since he moved to the district 13 years ago but was looking for an opportunity to dedicate more time to the schools after his children graduated.

“I really wanted to give back to the community what the community gave to us and take that volunteerism to the next level,” Root said.

Root said he was proud of the school board for approving the budget this year without terminating teachers or laying off employees. Though he realizes the reality of the state government budget and the pressures it will put on education.

“State government has been tasked to fix a $1.3 billion shortfall. It’s almost inevitable schools will be touched by this, some way or another,” Root said, listing fiscal responsibility as one of his top priorities in the coming school years.

Root’s opponent is Amy Wheaton.

Wheaton, also a parent, became involved in her children’s schools as a PTA and PTO member and classroom volunteer. Her family has lived in the district for 4½ years and thought it was time to bring a new perspective to the board.

Wheaton said she expects the district will face more budget cuts and recognizes the need to maintain a balanced budget without letting the education of children suffer.

District 4 seat

Mavis Nickels, who has been a member of the school board since May, is contested in November by Chris Webber.

Nickels has lived in the district since 1972 and taught math and science at Battle Ground schools from 1976 to 1999. She was also the math and science department head at Prairie High School and spent 10 years as a consultant coordinator for student assessment and a teacher mentor for the district.

Nickels said her focus for the coming school years would be on protecting students’ education despite economic constraints.

“Education is a whole-person thing. It’s not just one subject at a time, it’s community involvement, it’s adult and student interactions. We should focus on making sure every kid’s needs are met despite budget crunches all schools are facing,” Nickels said.

Webber declined to comment about the election but submitted the following comment to the Clark County Voters’ Pamphlet: “A vote for me is a vote for dollar stretching, student accountability, and common sense.”

Board members are authorized payment of $50 per meeting and per board-approved events, with a maximum of one payment for any given day and a maximum of $4,800 per year. District spokesman Gregg Herrington wrote in an email, “The reality here is that board members typically do not put in for this payment, despite participating in many school events, tours, conferences, assemblies, etc. on their own time throughout the district.”