Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Aug. 4, 2021

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In Our View: Reelect Bocanegra to Evergreen Public Schools

The Columbian
Published:

In nine years on the board of Evergreen Public Schools, Julie Bocanegra has helped oversee strong advancements throughout the district. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends that she be reelected to Position 1 on the board.

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

Typically, the Editorial Board would recommend two candidates prior to the Aug. 3 primary election; the top two vote-getters will advance to the November general election. But neither of Bocanegra’s challengers have demonstrated the qualifications or the public engagement necessary to warrant consideration.

While Bocanegra is the only viable candidate, voters are fortunate in that she is a strong and thoughtful leader with a record of effectiveness.

In speaking about the district’s response to the coronavirus, she told the Editorial Board: “Evergreen was a leader, not only in Clark County but throughout the state.” The district quickly instituted meal delivery for students and worked to get 25,000 students remotely connected to classes.

A district program implemented in recent years to provide computer tablets for students proved prescient in enhancing remote learning. “We have systems in place where we can do things,” Bocanegra said. “I don’t think remote will ever replace being in the same room, but now we have more options and better ways to deliver.”

Regarding diversity and inclusion, Bocanegra noted that critical race theory is not being taught in Evergreen schools — nor are there plans to do so. But efforts to provide students with a broad range of perspectives will pay dividends.

“It’s an initiative that has been super important to this board,” she said. “I think kids are going to be able to talk better than some adults are able to talk to each other.”

Bocanegra says that keeping students excited about learning is the key to an effective education. That can be achieved in multiple ways, including through a favorite teacher or extracurricular activities. “I just want kids to be engaged at school,” she said.

Challenger Raelynne Altree did not respond to multiple invitations to meet with the Editorial Board and did not submit information to the Voters’ Pamphlet. In response to a questionnaire from The Columbian, she gave the district a “zero” for its response to the pandemic and wrote, “The choices our elective officials have made goes against the people’s constitutional rights and parental rights.” That ignores the fact state officials made decisions about closing schools, and that those decisions were upheld by the courts.

Challenger Mike Appel belatedly responded to an invitation from The Columbian, writing only that he would not be available at the designated time. In the Voters’ Pamphlet, he writes: “If you want someone who is not afraid of shaking up the status quo and pushing for superior educations for our next generations, please consider giving me your vote.”

The status quo in Evergreen is imperfect. A recent report from a state organization found “a lack of trust and a divide among staff” in the district office. But Evergreen provides a strong public education for a broad range of students from differing backgrounds, and Bocanegra is the best choice for ensuring that continues and that improvements are implemented.

The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends that Julie Bocanegra be reelected for the Evergreen school board, Position 1.

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