Newcomers face off in Battle Ground school board race

Taylor, McCoy run to replace Pegoraro, who is not running for re-election

By Katie Gillespie, Columbian Education Reporter

Published:

 

Troy McCoy

Mitch Taylor

Fast Facts

Battle Ground Public Schools

2017-2018 enrollment, as of Sept. 14: 13,070.

Classroom teachers, 2016-2017 school year: 800.

Four-year graduation rate, Class of 2016: 77.9 percent.

2017-2018 General fund budget: $168,249,115.

Sources: Battle Ground Public Schools, Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

As Battle Ground Public Schools is strained by growth, the future of school facilities is high on the priority list for the district’s school board.

The one contested race features two political newcomers who list the increasing student body among their top priorities, but who take different approaches in calling for additional funding for new schools.

Mitch Taylor, director of client care at Ontario Systems, a software company, and Troy McCoy, an insurance agent, are running to replace departing Jim Pegoraro. Pegoraro, who represents District 3 on the school board, is not running for re-election.

The incoming school board is likely to vote on whether to send a bond measure out to voters. The district last ran an $80 million bond measure to replace aging schools in 2016. While a majority of voters supported the measure — 55.43 percent — bonds require a 60 percent supermajority to pass.

At last count, the district had 13,070 students enrolled. That’s a 164-student increase over the prior year, according to the district.

The southern part of the district in particular faces significant growth, as single family homes and apartment construction is “pushing the limits” of capacity at Glenwood Heights Primary School, Laurin Middle School and Pleasant Valley Middle School. The 2016 bond would have replaced those schools.

In a survey sent to all school board candidates by The Columbian, both Taylor and McCoy said Battle Ground’s continuing population growth is of significant concern for the district. Their answers have been edited for length and clarity.

“There is a lot of development and growth within the district boundaries,” Taylor said. “Growth creates a lot of issues — classroom sizes, boundary needs, resources. The school board needs to work together and make sure those items are being addressed.”

But Taylor fell short of calling on Battle Ground to turn to voter support, saying “until the details (of a bond) are more apparent and made known, it is hard to make a decision without being involved in the process which includes the details of the projects needed.”

McCoy, meanwhile, said the school board must work to be as “transparent with the public as possible” about how taxpayer dollars are being spent on school construction.

“Our growing community obviously needs more schools, but we need a partnership with the voters,” he said.

According to the Public Disclosure Commission, neither McCoy nor Taylor have raised any funds.

There are also two unopposed candidates running for other positions on the board.

Tina Lambert, a precinct committee officer for the Clark County Republican Party, is running unopposed for the seat held by Stephanie McClintock. McClintock is not running.

In her voter’s pamphlet statement, Lambert touted her volunteer experience for community bands and orchestras, including a director position for the Oregon Symphonic Band.

“I have been continually impressed with the work I have seen being done in the district and would like to use my time and talents to support this work as a member of the Battle Ground School Board,” she wrote.

Monty Anderson, the current school board president, is running to retain his seat for a third term. Anderson is also a board member of the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce, and finance manager of Battle Ground construction firm Tapani Underground, Inc.