In Our View: Give the Edge to Bocanegra

Her experience earns recommendation in Evergreen Public Schools race

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Because of her clear vision for the future of the district and her expansive knowledge of public education, The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends a vote for Julie Bocanegra for Position 1 on the board of Evergreen Public Schools.

As always, this is merely a recommendation. The Columbian encourages voters in the Evergreen district to examine the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot.

In studying the race for Position 1 on the school board, voters will find two strong candidates. But Bocanegra’s experience and her ability to articulate what she envisions for the future of the district gives her an edge over opponent Megan Miles (for video, see http://tinyurl.com/ycp2dcvg).

Bocanegra was appointed to the board in 2012 and won election in 2013. Since then, Evergreen schools have continued to effectively manage rapid growth, embrace cutting-edge education, and serve a diverse student population. The district also has earned kudos for its fiscal management. “A school director has to have a global view of the district,” Bocanegra told the Editorial Board, adding that the school board must continually “answer to taxpayers.”

While Evergreen Public Schools have been well run, this is a time of transition for the district. In addition to changes in school funding approved by the Legislature this year, the district has a new superintendent in John Steach, following the retirement of John Deeder. Stability on the school board will be beneficial as the district adjusts to these changes.

In the meantime, Evergreen schools continue to deal with fallout from last year’s contentious contract negotiations with teachers. While the school board was not directly involved with those negotiations, Bocanegra said, “I would probably want more transparency — on both sides, so the public knows.”

Bocanegra, a manager at Columbia Credit Union’s Orchards branch, previously has served on the board of the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce and as president of Evergreen Little League. Her involvement with leadership of Evergreen schools started with a position on the Evergreen School District Foundation.

Her long involvement with schools, including as a parent, gives her insight to the needs of students throughout the district. She lauds the district’s curriculum and its move toward increased digital learning. And in expressing her opposition to charter schools and school vouchers, she says, “I believe a strong district, a district of our size, should be able to provide choices.”

Miles, a teacher in the Hockinson School District and co-president of its teachers’ union, agrees that transparency was lacking in last year’s negotiations and says, “I felt it was very adversarial.” Those negotiations led her to seek a position on the Evergreen board: “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.”

Both Bocanegra and Miles are worthy candidates, but Bocanegra’s knowledge of the district and her ability to articulate a detailed vision make her the superior choice. Her emphasis upon providing varied opportunities for students ranging from high achievers to those who struggle with school reflects the needs of a diverse and growing district.

“I know this community,” she said. “I work hard at it every day to improve our schools.”

The Columbian recommends a vote for Julie Bocanegra for Position 1 on the board of Evergreen Public Schools.