LIncoln-County-School-Board

Candidates listed in the order they appear on the ballot. All Lincoln County voters vote for all.

Zone 3, Newport area

Lance Vanderbeck

What prompted your decision to run for the school board?

Education is one of the most valuable things you can give anyone. As a parent of a kindergartener here in the Lincoln County School District, it is important to me that not only my child, but all children, are getting the best possible education. We need to be making sure that the programs that are offered provide opportunities to grow resiliency and develop critical thinkers that have all the necessary skills and capabilities to pursue their goals beyond high school.

Please describe your connection to education and/or the school district:

My connection to education started with my grandfather Eugene “Van” Vanderbeck. Van taught ROTC at Billings West High School before retiring to Newport in the late ’80s. Van started a volunteer reading program at Sam Case called the PALs reading program. I am married to Jillian Vanderbeck, who has worked in the district as a kindergarten teacher since 2008. Our youngest daughter is currently enrolled at Yaquina View.

Since 2015, I have worked with local preschools and the kindergarten teachers to host an annual field trip to the Newport Municipal Airport. On this field trip, students get to see and interact with pilots, ground crew, airplanes, helicopters, operations equipment, airport fire truck, and local law enforcement officers.

I have also worked with Career Tech Charter High School (located in Lincoln City) drone students and hosted field trips to Newport Municipal Airport.

What are the chief problems within the district that you see a role for the school board to correct?

The first item that needs to be addressed is budget shortfalls for next year. I would recommend the school board look at current and previous fiscal year’s funding, and how funds were allocated. I would also encourage the superintendent to work with administration staff and input from teaching staff on ways that might best address the budget short falls in their schools.

The next issue is lowering class sizes so that they are more manageable for teachers and more equitable across the district. In addition to lowering class sizes, I would advocate for having adequate support staff to help with students who need more behavioral guidance, so as not to take away from the teaching and learning time of other students.

Do you have a strategy to address the high percentage of the student body that is home insecure and/or in poverty?

I would encourage investigating possible funding options to continue/sustain the current food program that is providing breakfast, lunch, and dinner to any student. I would also advocate for adequate funding for the HELP program to continue their work in connecting families with resources and opportunities that are available in the area. I would encourage building a strong relationship with local governments, businesses, and agencies to mutually support families in our community.

What are some of the particular challenges/needs of the zone for which you are running to be director?

In addition to a high population of students in poverty, Newport also has high numbers of Hispanic/Latino students and students who have experienced trauma in their lifetime. Our schools need to be provided with the resources to help communicate in a culturally appropriate manner and address student’s mental health, all while providing safe environments that foster all student’s learning.

Next, the school district should be working with local partners to help provide after school programing and resources for all ages. These school/community partnerships could help to fill voids in extracurricular activities. These partnerships could also expand the school’s volunteer program by providing in person training courses that would be designed to set expectations and ease access for people who want to volunteer in the schools.

Ron Beck

What prompted your decision to run for the school board?

As the incumbent, the decision was easy. I enjoy applying what I have learned during my time on the board and want to continue working to do what is best for our district and for our students.

Please describe your connection to education and/or the school district:

I was appointed to the board in 2002 and have served since then. My wife, Elaine, and I raised three children in Newport — all graduating from Newport High. Our daughter is a teacher at Newport High/Newport Middle and has two children that we expect will grow up here and graduate. As volunteers, we support the district music programs and the Newport High Booster Club in their efforts to bring programs to our students.

What are the chief problems within the district that you see a role for the school board to correct?

The board’s official role is to hire a superintendent, to create and implement policy, and to establish a budget for programs. We have one of the top superintendents in the state today. Most of our policy is driven by Oregon Revised Statutes and federal education policy. That leaves our budget — the driver of everything that we can offer.

Sustainability of programs is the chief problem for me. So many times, I hear “we had shop (or home economics) when I was in school.” While it is called career technical education (CTE) today, it is so much more. While it has grown with the times to be more trade-based and relevant to “life after high school,” it is also dependent on a funding source that is driven by corporate activity tax, lottery funds and marijuana tax revenues. If the funding from those sources changes, then the district must make some tough decisions about how we offer these important (and popular) programs. Our general fund allotment from the state provides for basic K-12 programs — the definition of which has eroded since the time that I was in school.

Do you have a strategy to address the high percentage of the student body that is home insecure and/or in poverty?

Our strategy must be multipronged as the issue is multifaceted. We must work with our community partners to ensure that students that need help are provided not only the appropriate help, but by the best partner to provide it. We need to keep duplication of efforts to a minimum and continue to do what we do best — educate.

One of the issues that we deal with is the mobility of our students. As parents move around our communities for a better job or a better place to live, our students change schools. Continuity in the curriculum between schools is one strategy that we have adopted and have worked hard to implement. Another strategy is to assist them with the use of technology in their education. Sometimes we need to educate our students where they are and not where we traditionally expect them to be. While we were already well on the way to implementing this approach before the pandemic, COVID-19 has shown us that we can do it. We must continue to tune that approach as our workforce uses technology for basic operations every day. Our future workforce must be functionally and technically literate in order to succeed every day.

What are some of the particular challenges/needs of the zone for which you are running to be director?

While the directors on the LCSD board are elected by all the voters of Lincoln County, the district is divided into five equal zones in order to provide for a countywide governance model. Each director must live within the zone that they wish to represent. It has been my pleasure to represent Zone 3, the Newport-South Beach-Agate Beach community, on the school board.

While my community faces many challenges, a couple come to mind. The first is the age of our facilities and the capacity of the buildings. Newport High has the largest population of students and was built in the 1950s. The West Campus was formerly Lincoln Junior High. Our ability to serve a growing population caused us to split elementary schools K-2 and 3-5. All the schools have undergone renovations, but that effort merely touched up facilities that were built during a time when education and learning were delivered in a different model. While the last construction bond addressed these issues in Toledo and Waldport, we are going to have to address this in Newport and Lincoln City very soon.

Next is affordability of housing for staff. We all recognize how expensive housing is in Lincoln County and the impact that is has on our students and their families. This problem can be bigger in Newport, and our school district sees it in our ability to hire and keep staff. We work hard to hire the best teachers, and we invest a considerable amount of time and resources in their professional development — only to lose them to another district or state where they can afford to live. While housing is not specifically our role, we are sensitive to the issues and must work with the community to find solutions.

Finally, the diversity of our community. We struggle to communicate effectively with all the members of our community and frequently are challenged to simply understand the voices that we are not hearing. Many groups have established pathways. If we genuinely want to embrace equity in education and to live up to “Every Child, Every Day, Future Ready,” then we must understand who they are, where they are, and what they need to be successful in their education.

Erica R. Wilson

What prompted your decision to run for the school board?

I decided to run because I am passionate about education. I am passionate about helping children, and I am passionate about helping families. As a community, nation, even world, we have had a difficult year. No environment has felt this challenge more acutely than education. I love our community. I hope to share not only my many years of experience in education and mental health services, but also my business leadership skills to help our school communities grow and flourish. I feel its time for us to make a change. New voices with outside perspectives are needed for us to move forward in the best direction. I will work hard to make sure our schools are safe and joyful places for children to learn again.

Please describe your connection to education and/or the school district:

My family has been a part of the Newport community for over 20 years. Several of my in-laws are teachers or former teachers of our district. I have a recent Newport High School graduate and two children currently in school; all three with learning and behavioral challenges. So, I have a deep personal interest in ensuring our schools thrive.

In my 30-year career working in education and mental health, I have worked as a classroom assistant, a teacher, a licensed behavior analyst, an inclusion specialist, an autism specialist, a school psychologist, a school consultant and as a school principal. I have also worked as a diagnostician and as a family therapist. I have spent the majority of my career helping families succeed in what would otherwise be considered challenging and even impossible situations.

What are the chief problems within the district that you see a role for the school board to correct?

Unfortunately, like most school districts there are many problems that need to be corrected. One problem that sticks out for me is ensuring all students have equal access to their education and to educational resources. This touches upon both equity and inclusion for all. A second issue that hasn’t been really discussed openly is the high rate of teacher turn over. Another issue is the disparity with class sizes across the district. One classroom of first graders in one school has seven students, while another one in another school has 17. We need to ensure that all students have an experience at school where they can reach their full potential and teachers are enabled to do their best work. We also need to create learning environments where teachers feel supported, valued, and able to use all of their gifts and skills to help our students.

Do you have a strategy to address the high percentage of the student body that is home insecure and/or in poverty?

This is an issue that needs to be addressed, not only within the school district, but within each zone’s local community. We need to ensure that in-school food programs continue for all students who need them. Our communities and schools need to come together and help families access entry points into public-benefit programs by simplifying and assisting in the process of accessing these services. We could establish interagency committees with local social workers and others to communicate together and wrap services around each student.

What are some of the particular challenges/needs of the zone for which you are running to be director?

Some of the bigger challenges that our zone faces and needs to address include:

• Poverty/homelessness support services- interagency support to access services;

• Equal access to education and to educational support services;

• More transparency for all stakeholders on how decisions are made — parents, students, teachers, school workers, and administrators;

• Teacher turnover — students need continuity of care;

• Teacher job satisfaction — what can we do to help them feel heard and valued so that teachers will stay?

And of course, the budget shortfall has effects on all of these. How can we ensure money is allocated correctly? Students should not lose programs or services due to the availability of funds. We will need out of the box and creative thinking to resolve these issues.

Mike Rawles

What prompted your decision to run for the school board?

The current school board is not doing enough to address some of the most pressing issues in our schools. I am someone who will go the extra mile to hear all voices, and that is something that is just not happening currently.  

Whether we’re talking issues of diversity and equitable access, assistance to our homeless students, or addressing the different needs of our rural and urban schools, we deserve a school board that will put in the work to be an active partner to all our constituents and stakeholders.

Please describe your connection to education and/or the school district:

I worked in the Lincoln County School District from the fall of 2015 to February of 2016 in the 21st Century After School Program at Newport Middle School. My grandson went through the LCSD from 2008 through the fall of 2015 before he transferred to Corvallis. My granddaughter also started in 2008 at the elementary school and graduates this year. My daughter taught at Newport High School from 2008 until January of this year.

What are the chief problems within the district that you see a role for the school board to correct?

We have a large and diverse district, but we are not doing enough to address the different needs that each student brings to school.

• Communication. Many parents, employees, students, and others in our district don’t feel heard or adequately communicated with by some of the current school board.

• Rebuilding in the wake of the pandemic. This past year has been devastating to us all, and we need to make sure that our children regain the time they’ve lost.

• Student homelessness and food insecurity is a major issue, which I address in more detail below.

Do you have a strategy to address the high percentage of the student body that is home insecure and/or in poverty?

Child homelessness and poverty is a tragedy, one that exists in every school district in America. Ending this tragedy requires hearing from and coordinating with stakeholders at all levels, from the families themselves, to county, state and federal agencies.

What are some of the particular challenges/needs of the zone in which you are running to be director?

Homelessness and poverty. We need to put together a coalition of district staff, parents and teachers to find a way to repair the damage done to our zone by this pandemic. This can’t be a one-shot deal. It must continue until the problems are fixed.

Staff diversity. Widen our recruiting area for open positions. Recruiting more teachers and aides would help with class sizes but we do need to continue with infrastructure changes.

Many subjects need new textbooks and the board should look for ways achieve this goal.

Zone 4, east county

Peter Vince

What prompted your decision to run for the school board?

I am a retired teacher with 33 years experience, most importantly 28 years teaching at Toledo High School. My life has been devoted to students and quality education. I loved teaching and feel that I still have more to offer education in our county. I have broad experience in working in effective schools, here in Lincoln County, in Morrow County at the beginning of my career, and in Victoria, Australia, where I taught for a year through the International Teaching Fellowship program. I know what effective schools look like. Perhaps the most effective school I worked in was Toledo High School in the mid-90s. Under incredible leadership of Principal Ron Williams and Counselor Sharon Branstiter, Toledo High was listed as a Red Book School of the Year. We focused on developing great relationships with our students and making many, many connections with the community. We were very innovative those years and every teacher on staff became a better teacher. As a result students were more engaged in their learning. I would like to foster district policies that create excitement for education for every student and staff member throughout the district.

Please describe your connection to education and/or the school district:

I have been and continue to be connected to education in Lincoln County. At Toledo High, I taught language arts, Spanish, journalism, video production, photography and leadership over 28 years. Students in journalism typically produced eight issues of the Boomerang, Toledo High’s student newspaper each year. Students in the video production classes I taught created monthly Boomercasts. More significantly, many of the same students were part of the LCSD TV crews that recorded and livestreamed the Newport and Toledo City Council meetings from 2008 to 2016.

I believed in providing as many real world experiences for students in my classes as a way to make their learning more relatable. I loved watching students’ progress in reading and writing, in learning Spanish, in developing their technology skills, in developing the social skills necessary for them to be successful after graduation. I have continued my connection in retirement as a swim coach for the Toledo High AquaBoomer Swim Team, as an Aspire mentor to seniors, and through mentoring video production teachers in the district. I have participated in “listening sessions” hosted by Superintendent Karen Gray, have been attending school board meetings, reviewing district policies and the budget. I will be able to join the school board well informed.

What are the chief problems within the district that you see a role for the school board to correct?

The district is facing many challenges, especially regarding returning to in person learning. COVID has made many of our students lose focus and languish instead of flourishing in their education. As a school board member I will support policies that will reinvigorate the learning experience for all of our students. The instructional landscape has changed though and the district will need to offer multiple avenues for learning. Dr. Gray has mentioned that the district will offer an in district online K-5 model for a limited number of students. This approach will work for some families, especially those that liked the Comprehensive Distance Learning model. The district needs to create multiple pathways for our students to learn. That said, I strongly believe that in person learning is the best model for a majority of our students. Students learn best when they have many caring adults guiding and directing their learning. Reestablishing the rigor and relevancy of education in students’ lives will be the key and that may take a while. As the district faces budget cuts, the priority should be on direct services to the classroom. Diversity, equity, and inclusion policies should be further developed and implemented so that all students receive the education they need.

Do you have a strategy to address the high percentage of the student body that is home insecure and/or in poverty?

The Lincoln County School District has done a remarkable job in providing for the health and safety of the students in our district. In the past 16 months, over one million meals were delivered to families during the pandemic. The district’s HELP program has provided many of the needs of our students. These efforts knock me out in their breadth and generosity. Kids struggle to learn if they aren’t eating, if they don’t have a home to come back to, if they don’t have clean clothes. With nearly 20 percent of our students facing housing/home insecurity, the issue must be treated as a high priority. I would love to see the district build on their successes. Homelessness and poverty are huge problems and the LCSD can’t solve the issue on its own. But with federal and state support, with the support of local city and county leadership, it is possible that a combined effort could make a difference. As a school board member, I would fully support the district’s goal of meeting with the leaders within the county to make connections regarding efforts in overcoming the problems faced by the county.

What are some of the particular challenges/needs of the zone for which you are running to be director?

I’ve been very impressed with the administrative leadership in the east county of LCSD. Principals Richard Ceder and Liz Postlewait are doing a great job in a turbulent environment. They are to be credited. I know they will continue to lead through the challenges and opportunities represented by the return to in person education.

As a board member, I will be attuned to their progress and the progress of our students. Even at the lowest point of the pandemic, Toledo High hosted “pop ins” where staff greeted students at local businesses just to let students know that teachers really cared about them. Coming back to “normal” education is the biggest concern I have. But I am also interested in seeing that the newly adopted math and social studies curricula are supported so that teachers have the opportunity to understand, integrate, explore, and develop the new materials. Another issue that faces small schools like Toledo and Waldport is that teachers are often required to teach multiple subjects. It’s not uncommon for a teacher to have three or more preps. I would like to see the district utilize professional learning teams, cadre teams, and other teachers supporting teachers models to help our small schools better deliver a comprehensive learning program.

Stephen Vogel

What prompted your decision to run for the school board?

I am concerned with the direction of state and national politicization of education. I would like to see an emphasis on individual achievement rather than reducing the student majority to the lowest common denominator or indoctrination in a particular direction from a state or federal level.

Please describe your connection to education and/or the school district:

We have two graduates from the Lincoln County School District and four students returning for the 2021-22 school year. I come from a family of educators and coaches and have taught in a private school, as well as homeschooled our children at various times.

What are the chief problems within the district that you see a role for the school board to correct?

While I find that the board and district has, in general, done well and made wise choices, I would like to see an expanded emphasis on reducing the paternal role of the schools and shift to aiding parents in raising their children. The classroom is an amazing tool for education and exploration, but parents are the single most powerful determining factor for child success. Empower and aid the parents and educational results will follow.

Do you have a strategy to address the high percentage of the student body that is home insecure and/or in poverty?

We have had over 25 foster kids in our home over the years. This is a serious issue. In the short term meeting the needs of the children is necessary, but a “joint-agency” approach with federal, state, local and non-governmental organizations to effectively aid parents with foundational needs and abilities will help reverse the decay of parenting skills. High functioning parents are more likely to raise healthy and prosperous citizens.

What are some of the particular challenges/needs of the zone for which your are running to be director?

We have a distinct diversity of people from a variety of socioeconomic groups and many feel left out of the educational process or view the school as being in direct opposition to their way of life. Meeting the needs of struggling families, empowering parents, and affirming their culture is imperative.

Zone 5, south county

Senitila McKinley

What prompted me to run for the school board?

I am running for the school board because education is something that I am excited about. I believed in its power to change the lives of individuals and transform communities. Access to appropriate education makes the world a better place for all of us.

Please describe your connection to education and/or the school district:

I worked for LCSD for over 25 years, starting as a Latch Key Afterschool Program Assistant in the ’80s. I was an educational assistant in special education and became aware of the deep and widespread needs of families in our area as family advocate in south county schools. I was also the district homeless liaison coordinator of the 21st Century Learning Center for the district.

On a national level, I served on the Laubach Literacy (now ProLiteracy Worldwide) Board of Directors out of Syracuse, New York. I was a National Institute for Literacy Fellow in Washington, D.C. from 1995 to 1996, served for three years on the Oregon Department of Education’s Advisory Council for Special Education, from 1995 to1998, and was on the board of trustees at Oregon Episcopal School in Portland from 2003 to 2005.

I am the founder and director of Seashore Family Literacy in Waldport. Seashore Family Literacy is a nonprofit organization serving the community with their basic education needs and has been serving families in the community with their basic needs since 1996, including delivering meals to families through the pandemic.

What are the chief problems within the district that you see a role for the school board to correct?

I don’t believe that there are problems that need fixing, rather, I know there are changes that need to be made to see that all of our children have an appropriate education to prepare them for whatever future they pursue. Every child should be given every opportunity to succeed and thrive. We should provide all students a place to learn that is free from prejudice based on their race, family background or living situation. We need to hire staff that represent the diversity in our community. I know this work has been started, but there is much more work to be done.

Do I have a strategy to address the high percentage of students in unstable living situations?

I’ve changed the wording in your question to name what it is: It’s poverty! Food insecurity, house insecurity is a comfortable way for us to work around the fact that we have hungry and homeless students walking the halls in our schools. People that are in poverty are not living, they are struggling to stay alive every single day, this includes our students. The role of the school is to make sure every child is given the same opportunities to receive an education, regardless of their living situations.

What are some of the challenges/needs of the zone for which I am running to serve?

There is a huge gap between community and schools in south county. We cannot continue to work in isolation. We all need to make a continuous effort to connect the schools into the community, city government, local organizations, and with the families of our students to create a community of support for the success of our children’s education; to know every child, to care for and to value each child. If I am given the opportunity, I would welcome the challenge to work within our schools and community to bring us together for better education for all our children.

Eric Goss

What prompted your decision to run for the school board?

It’s time to stop talking about it when it comes to helping the youth in our community. I saw a poor display of character and compassion from members of the Willamina School District School Board during a meeting, and I want to make sure our students feel safe and welcomed at our schools so they can focus on their education and growth.

Having served as the voice of the Tigers the previous five years, I saw how much it meant to the students and their families to broadcast their games. Hearing a player say “thank you” at the end of the night was always the biggest reward for me. We have good kids in our county and they’ve been through some tough times and I want to make sure they know they have someone in Zone 5 who will stand up for them. I know they will get that one way or another, as Senitila McKinley is an amazing choice and wonderful person who does so much for our community already and has been actively working for a long time focusing on our students who are in need of support.

Please describe your connection to education and/or the school district:

I graduated from Waldport High School in 2003 and attended the University of Oregon’s College of Arts and Sciences Political Science Department with an emphasis on international political economy. I previously served as a sports broadcaster for the Taft Tigers and the OSAA, but it was at WHS that I did my first play-by-play while writing for the local newspaper. I enjoyed college, so much I stayed longer than was required, while being a believer in lifelong continued education. I worked for the non-profit organization Linking Sports and Communities, which focused on holding events for underprivileged youth in Arizona. One of the LCSD board’s stated goals is the establishment of a nonprofit.

What are the chief problems within the district that you see a role for the school board to correct?

With an expected budget shortfall, the board is going to face difficult decisions about where to allocate its finances in order to maximize the effectiveness of our programs. How we maximize what we have in order to minimize what we have to take away will determine how we get through the coming years.

I also think that in spite of these known short-falls, we need to raise the expectations for our students even while knowing that the burden of the last year has been tremendous. We should plant that seed in their minds early on that they are capable of more than they previously thought, because it will bring out the best of them. It also means we need to support them in each endeavor while recognizing that these expectations are less grade-specific than they are goals that match the student and their respective educational talents.

This is also true for all of our LCSD employees; that we work to bring out the best in their respective talents as it benefits our overall educational mission.

Do you have a strategy to address the high percentage of the student body that is home insecure and/or in poverty?

The free meal programs are a great start. We need to look at others areas that we can address such as laundry services at schools that students can use, or by developing LCSD property that we can lease out to non-profit Organizations that can serve in ways that LCSD cannot legally do. Creating more after-school programs for Students and looking at ways to increase transportation routes for those programs during an expected budget shortfall is a difficult task.

I want every student to learn to embrace any challenges they face in life and that just because they endure a difficult situation does not make them any less of a person or incapable of doing great things for themselves. Some of the most academically gifted students in our county have come from less than ideal backgrounds and we need to reinforce that type of fortitude.

I also want our community to understand the underlying issue of housing and poverty is one that the LCSD is not meant to solve. The board, however, can work to put a spotlight on these issues by working to engage the county/state/federal officials who do have the ability to adequately address these issues. That said, due to our location on the ocean and with the current companies and organizations on Yaquina Bay, I believe we can recruit more businesses and organizations to invest in Lincoln County by our investment into programs that are vital to future industry and technology.

What are some of the particular challenges/needs of the zone for which you are running to be director?

Too many students have “fixed mindsets” and not “growth mindsets.” It has been easy to get de-motivated in the last year and our students need to be given the framework with which they can internally address the problems set before them without feeling overwhelmed as they go through life. Exercise and meditation practices need to be started early on as part of a balanced education.

Poverty remains a big issue, which is why the community collectively has to come together to support each other. The board needs to look at how we can use LCSD property more often throughout the year for events that support the community such as opening up a ball-field or gym or hosting a summer science fair or sports tournament in conjunction with another organization. I know it’s difficult to imagine coming together while we’re going through a pandemic, but we’ve got to see how interconnected we are or else we’ll become more fractured and discrepancies with our students will get worse.

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