In Our View: Gronwoldt for Pos. 5

Her position on charters gives her edge in Evergreen school board race

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Regardless of the outcome in November’s election, Position 5 on the board for Evergreen Public Schools will remain in good hands. While both candidates are well-informed and capable of being effective board members, The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends Ginny Gronwoldt for the position.

As always, this is merely a recommendation. We trust that voters in the Evergreen district will examine the issues and the candidates before casting an informed vote. In researching Gronwoldt and opponent Park Llafet, voters will find two candidates with vast community involvement as well as experience within the Evergreen district. Gronwoldt and Llafet are seeking to succeed Michael Parsons, who is retiring.

Gronwoldt, a commercial lending officer, is current president of the Evergreen School District Foundation, which raises donations for the district and assists schools while focusing upon needy areas. She has served with her local parent-teacher association, Educational Opportunities for Children and Families, Leadership Clark County, Junior Achievement, and other civic organizations.

Having two young children in Evergreen schools, Gronwoldt is well-versed on the inner workings of a district that has an annual budget of about $330 million and serves roughly 25,000 students, making it the largest in Clark County. “I wanted to make a bigger impact on the district than I already have with my smaller roles,” she told the editorial board.

Among the issues facing public schools, Gronwoldt opposes school vouchers that would allow public money to be spent for students to attend private schools. The establishment of such vouchers is supported by the Trump administration, and it marks one of the avenues of departure between Gronwoldt and Llafet, who said, “This is a trend that we as a community have to face.”

Like Gronwoldt, Llafet has extensive community involvement. He has worked for the Evergreen School District Foundation in the past, along with the PTA and neighborhood associations. He has one child who has graduated from Evergreen schools and another in high school.

The Evergreen district has done an effective job of managing growth and incorporating technology into education. But with this year’s Legislature altering public-school funding and with John Steach taking over as Evergreen’s superintendent following the retirement of John Deeder, this is a time of change for the district. In addition, some hard feelings linger from last year’s contentious contract negotiations between district officials and the teachers’ union.

Gronwoldt criticizes the negotiating ploys used by the union, calling them “scare tactics, bullying, not very professional.” Park agrees, saying, “My perception was that the union was strong-arming the community.” School boards are not involved in negotiations with teachers, but the comments provide some insight into Gronwoldt and Park and their visions for public education. At the same time, Gronwoldt expresses empathy for the growing roles of teachers and their ever-increasing duties. “We have definitely more going on in schools than teachers should have to (take care of),” she said.

Gronwoldt and Llafet both are knowledgeable and well-spoken. In the end, we believe that Gronwoldt’s wariness of school vouchers and the fact that she has young children in the Evergreen district give her a slight edge. The Columbian recommends a vote for Ginny Gronwoldt for Position 5 on the board of Evergreen Public Schools.