In Our View: Bocanegra, Miles for Evergreen Public Schools board Pos. 1

Incumbent, challenger for Pos. 1 boast expertise, clear vision for school district

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Recommending two candidates for Position 1 on the board of Evergreen Public Schools is easy for the Aug. 1 primary.

The ballot will say this is a three-person contest, but one of the candidates provided no information for the Voters’ Pamphlet and missed a scheduled appointment with The Columbian’s Editorial Board. Because of that — and because of their qualifications as candidates — the editorial board recommends that Julie Bocanegra and Megan Miles advance out of the primary in the race for the school board.

As always, this is merely a recommendation. The Columbian trusts that voters will study the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot. Following the primary, the editorial board will narrow its selection to one recommended candidate prior to the general election in November.

Bocanegra is the incumbent in this race, having been appointed to the board in 2012 and elected to retain her seat in 2013. One of her selling points is a strong performance by the board and by Evergreen schools. That, of course, is not the result of a single board member, but Bocanegra is effective at articulating a strong vision for Evergreen schools while demonstrating an expansive knowledge of the issues facing the district and public education in general.

For a district as large as Evergreen, those issues can be difficult. They also are about to become more complex with the retirement of Superintendent John Deeder and with changes to statewide funding of public education. “A school director has to have a global vision of the district,” Bocanegra told the editorial board, adding that school officials should “answer to taxpayers.” Importantly, she demonstrates that broad vision as she speaks about how the district can best serve students.

Evergreen Public Schools is also facing lingering strain from contentious contract negotiations with the teachers’ union last year, and Miles said that was the impetus for her to seek a position on the school board. As a teacher in the Hockinson School District and co-president of her union, she said, “I think there need to be more voices from education going into these positions. I feel it’s important to have wide perspectives on the school board.”

While the school board is not directly involved in contract negotiations, Bocanegra and Miles agree that last year’s situation was uncomfortable. Bocanegra said, “I would probably want more transparency — on both sides.”

Regarding the details of educating students, Miles stresses the need for developing a strong curriculum. Bocanegra says there is a curriculum program in place, but it is being adjusted as the district moves toward more digital instructional content. The candidates agree on the need to provide options for transgender students to use facilities where they feel comfortable and safe, and their opinions are similar regarding several of the major issues facing public education.

In offering a pitch for why they should be supported by voters, Bocanegra said: “I know this community; I work hard every day to improve our schools.” Miles said: “I know kids, I know schools.”

Those platforms become fodder for discussion prior to the general election. But for now, The Columbian recommends Julie Bocanegra and Megan Miles in the primary contest for the District 1 spot on the board of Evergreen Public Schools.