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Sept. 24, 2020

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Sproul leads winds of change in Vancouver Public Schools

Evergreen voters lean toward incumbents

By , Columbian Education Reporter
Published:

Voters in the Vancouver Public Schools district signaled their desire for change in Tuesday’s election, with challenger Kyle Sproul toppling 29-year incumbent Dale Rice.

There was no such shake-up in Evergreen Public Schools, however; voters appear to be sticking with the incumbents who lead Clark County’s largest district.

Sproul, a parent and business professional, led investment adviser Rice with 56.1 percent of the votes in the race for Position No. 1. It was an unusually expensive and heated race, with both candidates spending thousands of dollars on signs and advertising.

Sproul ran on a platform that called for transparency from district leadership and closing performance gaps between schools in the richest and poorest neighborhoods. Rice, meanwhile, called for fiscal responsibility during challenging budget decisions, and said he wanted to “finish what (he) started” nearly three decades ago.

“I’m really proud of the campaign,” Sproul said. “It resonated with our community, and it was clear there’s interest in change.”

Sproul also gave her regards to Rice, noting he has “a remarkable legacy in public service.” Rice did not return a request for comment.

In the Position No. 4 race, former kindergarten teacher Kathy Decker was leading Heritage High School science teacher Lisa Messer by 629 votes. Decker received 51.9 percent of the ballots, while Messer took 48.14 percent of the votes.

Decker was cautiously optimistic about the results, noting that she wants to push for improved transparency in the school district. She specifically called out the district for its lack of public response to an Attorney General’s Office report that revealed that students of color and students with disabilities are being suspended or excluded at high rates.

“My heart was so heavy,” she said.

Messer said she was disappointed by early returns, but waiting on late ballots.

And in the Position No. 5 race, Tracie Barrows was dominating opponent Chris Lewis, picking up 59.1 percent of the vote to Lewis’ 40.9.

“I feel good seeing how supportive our community is of education,” said Barrows, a school psychologist. “I feel like the community overwhelmingly is ready for a change in their schools.”

Incumbents hold in Evergreen

If voters in Vancouver are ready for change, those in Evergreen are holding steady.

Software developer Rob Perkins held a narrow lead over Bethany Perkins, a Fort Vancouver High School teacher who announced her candidacy during last year’s teachers strike. Perkins took 51.9 percent of the vote in first returns, with Rivard trailing with 48.1 percent of the votes in the District No. 2 race.

Neither were calling it over on Tuesday, however.

“I’m obviously pleased and grateful,” Perkins said, saying that if the results hold, he’ll continue to focus on improving career and technical opportunities for students and evaluating student safety.

Rivard, meanwhile, said she’s going to “hold (her) breath and see what happens.”

“I ran against an incumbent, and it’s within hundreds of votes,” she said.

Rachael Rogers, a Clark County prosecutor who was appointed to the school board in February, defeated challenger Divya Jain with 66.2 percent of the vote to Jain’s 33.8 percent.

Though Rogers had a bit of an incumbency head start, this will be her first full term in the District No. 4 spot. Rogers said she wants to install a student representative on the school board, and lead the charge on issues like extending school lunch duration.

“We want to be proactive, not reactive,” she said.

District No. 3 incumbent Victoria Bradford, who ran unopposed, picked up 11,679 votes.

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