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May 20, 2022

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Candidates for Battle Ground school board say district should reflect community values

By , Columbian staff writer

Three spots on the Battle Ground school board are up for election – all while the district faces an important decision on a replacement levy that will shape the community’s next four years of public education.

One of the candidates on the ballot, Diane Langan in District 3, died unexpectedly in September at age 41. Should Langan win posthumously, the seat would be filled by appointment. Her opponent in the race is Ted Champine.

District 1

Incumbent Mary Snitily faces Chloe Seppala. Snitily served for 23 years in education as a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent and more in both public and private schools. In a questionnaire submitted to The Columbian, Snitily said that her many roles have given her a broad understanding of education and she believes that school districts should seek to reflect the values of the families they serve. Her own attachment to family and faith, she said, is an example of how her values will play a role in her service.

As for the upcoming replacement levy, Snitily stressed how it includes critical funding for students.

“As frustrated as we all are with the current mandates and restrictions; a no vote is not a vote against mandates. It is a vote against kids,” Snitily said.

Her challenger, Chloe Seppala, works as a media relations coordinator at Church on the Rock in Battle Ground. She is a graduate of Summit View High School and served on the Battle Ground Middle School Sexual Health Education Curriculum Committee for 10 weeks in 2021.

Seppala did not respond to The Columbian’s questionnaire and could not be reached for comment, but outlined many of her stances in a Southwest Washington School Board candidacy survey. Seppala noted that she wishes to improve trust between the community and the district and said that political agendas being pushed in classrooms has become part of that problem.

“Classrooms should be nonpartisan,” Seppala wrote in the survey. “We need to get back to educating and stay far away from indoctrinating.”

District 3

Champine is a veteran, small-business owner and father of three. He is a staunch supporter of the upcoming replacement levy, and said in a questionnaire to The Columbian that he prioritizes a variety of programs being provided to students.

“If we have a more robust program that focuses on trades like electrical, framing, mechanical, automotive, and the like, then I believe we would get a bigger investment from the community at large,” Champine said. He also wishes to improve transparency between the district and parents and thinks programs like critical race theory and comprehensive sex education are forms of “indoctrination” that should not be in schools. 

Incumbent Troy McCoy decided not to seek reelection in preparation for a city council run.

District 5

In another campaign twist, District 5 candidate Jenny Price announced last month that she is suspending her campaign against incumbent Jackie Maddux. She remains on the ballot, however. She could not be reached for additional comment.

Maddux, the vice president of the school board, was a longtime volunteer at Prairie High School and previously worked as an accountant. Her experience as a volunteer helped her establish valuable connections with parents and teachers, she said in response to a questionnaire from The Columbian.

Maddux did not share a stance on the upcoming replacement levy, but noted that she will strive to provide transparency to parents and community members during her time on the school board. She also noted that federal or state curricula can be important to offer the same opportunities to students across all districts, but that it should be a choice left up to each family.

“The ability to opt-out of curriculums should be available to all families as differing backgrounds, cultures and family values call for a variety of options,” Maddux said.

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