In Mid-county’s only contested school board election this May, voters choose between Joshua Singleton and Dave Carter for a four-year term on the Parkrose Board of Education.
The seat is open because incumbent Thuy Tran, who was elected in 2013 to a two-year term after being appointed to the seat, decided not to run for re-election. Asked why, without elaboration, Tran said in an email, “I will not run for re-election as a Parkrose School District Board member.”
Carter, who ran for the school board in 2013 but lost to current board vice-chair Mary Lu Baetkey, works at WinCo Foods. He served on the district’s bond oversight and budget committees. In addition, Carter is a member of the Parkrose music boosters and Shaver Elementary parent group.
Singleton, who lists no prior governmental experience other than his five years in the Navy, is a Parkrose High School graduate, a manager at Boeing, and has three children. One graduated from Parkrose High School in 2010. His other two are currently enrolled at PHS.
The Memo asked Carter and Singleton three questions. Their answers are printed below.
What do you bring to the Parkrose school board that neither your opponent nor any of the incumbents do?
I have spent the last two years leading a very large fraternal organization. During this time, the organization had approximately 300 hundred members with at least 10 percent of the membership in attendance at regular monthly meetings. The organization has over $1 million in assets, with an operating budget of around $50 thousand. This operating budget was used to fund our charity and fellowship programs including scholarships, a family picnic, donations to the community transitional school and other activities.
Carter: I bring experience and participation in many areas of our school district.
Over the last three years, I have participated and volunteered on many levels. [My experience includes] serving on the capital bond oversight committee; the budget committee for the last two years, including one year as vice-chair; the superintendent parent advisory council; the music booster club; and as a parent on the Shaver Elementary Parent Teacher Organization.
All this work has prepared me to serve on the board. If elected, I would to able to transition quickly into the workings of the district’s new business at hand.
Do you have a goal in mind?
Singleton: As a manager with a major manufacturing company, I would like to see an eventual return of the vocational arts.
In the course of my daily duties, I notice a deficiency of skilled applicants for manufacturing positions. Aspirations for college and higher education are noble goals, but in reality, not all graduates are going to be college bound. We could be doing a better job of preparing all of our students for careers after high school by getting back to the vocational arts. This is a very ambitious goal, and several things would need to happen first: namely, restoring all of the lost school days and lowering the teacher-to-student ratio.
Carter: I have a few goals on the forefront.
As a school district, Parkrose has spent a good focus on the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program. We should be proud of this.
Now it is time to focus our resources on the Talented and Gifted, Honors, and Advance Placement Courses for our students. These programs are just as worthy and as important to our students’ success.
Bringing back choices in foreign language [is a goal as well]. For the last two years, the district has only provided one foreign language to its students. This is a travesty for us, as we are a community rich in many spoken languages. Students that are college bound are required to successfully complete at least two years of a foreign language. We need to offer more choices for our students.
I have participated on budget committees that have taken school days away and have brought these days back. Unfortunately, we are still shy of the full school year the district strives for. I will make a full school year a priority.
Hiring teachers back is my other area of focus. Class sizes are out of hand and students are not getting the individual attention that they need. Teachers are being asked to do more with less and less, and this is unsustainable.
Should teaching financial literacy be part of the curriculum?
I believe that one of the purposes of public education is to educate productive citizens of society. Financial literacy, whether it is economics or personal finance, is an important component of citizenship. Having this type of knowledge may prevent some from making mistakes which could have long-lasting implications. Equally important is the need for our students to understand the world around them. Given the recent economic recession and the circumstances which brought it about, combined with our ever-growing global economy, we need well-educated citizens capable of making informed choices now more than ever. We need to step back and think of which skills a young adult will need when they enter the workforce, and more so, society as a whole.
Carter: Yes, it is very beneficial to leave high school with a good grasp of finances.
Nearly all seniors graduating will be of the age of eighteen: adults. Having a core understanding of how savings and checking accounts, credit cards, loans and taxes work is critical to their long-term financial success.
The district offers elective coursework geared for juniors and seniors that cover these financial topics. Perhaps the board should consider making this coursework a requirement for graduation.