Three school board members retiring; three new ones joining

Three of the five positions on the Orcas Island School District school board are being vacated, making room for new directors. The following candidates are running unopposed in the November election: Diane Boerstler, Joshua Culp and John Fleming.

Three current board members are retiring from their position: Tony Ghazel, Scott Lancaster and Chris Sutton.

The Sounder asked them questions about their experiences while on the board.

Tony Ghazel

Sounder: How long were you on the school board?

TG: A little short of 14 years.

Sounder: What do you feel was the biggest achievement made while serving on the school board?

TG: This is a hard question to answer as there isn’t just one thing. As a board we were always focused on excellence and providing opportunities for student and staff success. Curriculum continuity throughout the grades and professional development for staff are two that come to mind. We successfully, on budget and on time, rebuilt the 1980s buildings to improve the children and staff safety and health. Lastly, we have dramatically improved our fund balance (like a savings account) from zero percent in 2005 to a little more than eight percent of a $10 million budget this year.

Sounder: What do you plan to do next?

TG: Spend more time with my wife and boys. I will take a break from elected office but continue helping at the Orcas Island Community Church, reinvigorate my involvement with the Orcas Island Lions club. What weighs heavily on my heart are: improving the spiritual and financial health of our community; as a community, recognize that and find solutions for our children and adult alcohol and drug dependence problems and continue working on affordable housing.

Scott Lancaster

Sounder: How long were you on the school board?

SL: Twelve fun, albeit sometimes challenging, years.

Sounder: What do you feel was the biggest achievement made while serving on the school board?

SL: Actually there are three that are all tied together: helping to bring financial stability to the district, the hiring of Eric Webb as superintendent and passing bonds to successfully remake the campus on time and under budget.

Sounder: What do you plan to do next?

SL: I will enjoy not being committed to all meetings that come with the job

Chris Sutton

Sounder: How long were you on the school board?

CS: Eight years.

Sounder: What do you feel was the biggest achievement made while serving on the school board?

Sounder: What do you feel was the biggest achievement made while serving on the school board?

CS: Hiring Eric Webb.

The Sounder also asked each new school candidate questions.

Diane Boerstler

Director 2

Sounder: Do you have any elected official experience?

DB: While I have drafted, lobbied for and pushed through legislation since 1995, this is my first time running for elected office.

Sounder: What is your professional experience?

DB: E-commerce consultant, copywriter and founder of NLP HypnoCopy (2008 to current). Global Non-Profit Financial Funding Consultant (2009 to 2014). Special education program director and teacher (2004 to 2009).

Sounder: What is your educational experience?

DB: Bachelor’s of Arts, Saint Mary’s College; Masters Studies in special education, counseling.

Sounder: Why are you running for the school board?

For countless reasons that would never fit into a newspaper article, however the main reason I am running is because I’d love to write policies and implement changes that allow us to hear a shift in the conversations happening in our communities. I wonder, how much things improve if people stop saying, “The school isn’t doing something I want them to do”, like I myself was guilty of, and say, “How can I get raise my voice, provide resources and get involved so I can help move the school toward the solution studies show is best for our children?” Like they say, it takes a village to raise a child and I think we have the perfect village to make that happen!

Sounder: What do you feel is the most important issue that needs to be addressed by the OISD school board?

DB: While I believe implementing new technologies that allow every student to experience the individualized learning that benefits them most, and integrating more project based education are extremely important, my current focus is the gap between the funding provided, and the services our students deserve. Washington state continues to expect our administration, teachers and staff to meet ever growing needs, while battling a severe lack of funding. I have a decade long track record of finding unique ways to get money to fund important projects and initiatives, and I look forward to leveraging my experience to improve how easily we can say, “Yes” to all of the study-based educational advancements requested by our parents, teachers and staff. Will that require me to take on Washington state? Possibly, but I’ve worked with the legislature before, and I’ll happily do it again!

Joshua Culp

Director 3

Sounder: Do you have any elected official experience?

JC: This will be my first time working as an elected official. While in high school I was on American Student Body, and though an important position at the time, I don’t believe it counts!

Sounder: What is your educational experience?

JC: I have a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon in Sociology.

Sounder: What is your professional experience?

JC: I have been working since I was 14, firstly here on the island, then for the University of Oregon, overseas as a farmhand, in the nutrition field, and currently for OIPRD here back on the island.

Sounder: Why are you running for the school board?

JC: I have decided to run for school board to give back to OISD and our local community. This island nurtured and fed my generation, preparing us for our studies at University, and how to carry ourselves as adults. As a member of the OISD school board, I will strive to empower our youth, as those before me have done.

Sounder: What do you feel is the most important issue that needs to be addressed by the OISD school board?

JC: The school board needs to make sure the school is running as best as it possibly can. We must ask the tough questions that have not been addressed recently, and move forward as an island community.

John Fleming

Director 1

Fleming is running unopposed for OISD Director 1.

Sounder: Do you have any elected official experience?

JF: I have not yet served as an elected official. Before moving to Orcas in 2013, I served on a city planning commission in Michigan.

Sounder: What is your educational experience?

JF: I have a Bachelors of Science in Engineering Physics from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Michigan.

Sounder: What is your professional experience?

JF: I am a licensed architect in Washington and Michigan. Before that I was an engineer in the computer hardware industry, working in Colorado and Massachusetts.

Sounder: Why are you running for the school board?

JF: I have three school-age children, one whom just left for college. One of my biggest concerns is that each of our community’s children get a great education and launch successfully into adulthood. The opening on the school board presents a great opportunity to be involved in this process. I admire the other school board members and it would be great to join them in making the best decisions for our schools.

Sounder: What do you feel is the most important issue that needs to be addressed by the OISD school board?

JF: Funding gaps for programs and facilities are a continual challenge. I also have the perception that the experience of our students varies greatly on a year to year basis, with “good” years and “challenging” years. I want all of our students to have the opportunity to be academically challenged and to also feel safe and supported at school. A student and teacher survey would be a good way to assess how the community feels we are addressing these issues. I am excited to learn other ways to keep our students engaged, developing academically, and following their interests.

 

Diane Boerstler

Chris Sutton

Scott Lancaster

Tony Ghazel