Three positions on the Vancouver Public Schools Board of Directors are on the ballot this year, but only one of them includes an incumbent. That will lend intrigue to the race for Position 1, following a tumultuous year for the board.
The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends Dale Rice and Kyle Sproul as the best candidates to advance out of the Aug. 6 primary to the November general election. Four candidates are in the contest, and the top two vote-getters in the primary will face off in the finale.
As always, this is merely a recommendation. The Columbian encourages voters to examine the issues and the candidates before casting an informed ballot to help shape the course of the county’s second-largest school district.
Rice has been on the board for 29 years and has served admirably, helping to shepherd a string of successes for the district during a period of remarkable growth. “I want to complete what we started,” he said during an interview with the editorial board, stressing how his professional experience as a financial manager has helped ensure fiscal responsibility for the district.
He also lauds the district’s development of iTech Preparatory as an example of innovative education and says, “I believe the future of education is project-based learning.” He also mentions the establishment of Family-Community Resource Centers as an example of enhancing the district’s service to students and families.
Sproul, a business professional with a background in marketing, is focusing her campaign on the district’s achievement gap and a concern that low-income students are not being adequately served. “There is no excuse for VPS to perform so far below the state’s average,” she writes on her campaign website. “I am determined to represent VPS’s underserved populations to ensure consistent and improved achievement for all.”
Caressa Milgrove and Thomas Higdon also are on the ballot for Position 1 and would bring varying strengths to the position.
Milgrove writes: “For the last several years, I’ve dedicated myself to speaking up for what our children need.” She has demonstrated that dedication through an effort to get the Legislature to approve a bill expanding the length of school lunch periods. She demonstrates a deep interest in how Vancouver schools serve students and a desire to enhance the educational system at all levels, and her experience in working with state representatives has helped prepare her for a position on the school board.
Higdon says: “I believe in a traditional education. … Above all, I shall require an excellence in English.” He is an articulate advocate for the importance of education, but demonstrates little understanding of issues specific to Vancouver schools. For example, he was unaware of the district’s budget or enrollment; while Higdon noted that he could easily look up those numbers, it would seem that some basic homework is essential for somebody who wishes to join the school board.
Rice and Sproul, on the other hand, have firm grasps on the basics of Vancouver Public Schools and clear visions for moving the district into the future. That vision will require dealing with a budget deficit estimated to be $8 million for the coming school year. It also will require dealing with the fallout from contentious contract negotiations last summer.
Following the primary election, the editorial board will recommend one candidate to voters. But for now, we believe that Dale Rice and Kyle Sproul are the best candidates for Position 1 on the Vancouver school board.