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Election 2013: Larsen and Tyner run unopposed in School Board races

The Beaverton Valley Times asked local School Board candidates to complete a survey to help the community to learn more about them and their education perspectives.

The candidates responses have been edited for length and style. We hope this information helps you cast your vote in the May 21 election.

Zone 4

Candidate: Donna Tyner

Age: 55by: TIMES PHOTO - Donna Tyner

Family: Married to John Tyner for 28 years. We have two sons who attended Hazeldale Elementary School, Rachel Carson School, Mountain View Middle and Aloha High School. Michael is a sophomore at Pacific University and Thomas is a senior at Aloha.

Job and Education: I work as a risk analyst for the Port of Portland and graduated from Willamette University in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in political science.

Neighborhood she lives in: Tyler’s Green in Aloha

Length of time within the school district: 26 years

School involvement and community service experience: I have been an active parent, classroom volunteer, team mom over the past 15 years in the Beaverton School District. I helped out on field trips, planned and executed class activities and holiday parties. I participated in the Art Literacy program. I volunteered in an array of capacities in support of wrestling, football and track and field programs.

In the community: Tyler’s Green Owners’ Committee (1997 to Present) founder and board member; Tyler’s Green Owners Committee representative: Washington County-Farmington Road, 209th and Grabhorn Road Improvement Project (2002-2003); Commission for Women (1990-1993); and Portland School District (Lunch Hour Activities) volunteer at James John Elementary School (2007-08/08-09) and Sacramento Elementary School (2010-11/11-12).

What skills, knowledge and experience do you bring to the School Board? I have the dedication and patience for the position. I am approachable and a good listener. I have the ability to view situations from various angles. I have a common problem solving approach. These are the skills I have employed over my 30 years in the insurance and risk management industry.

I’ve served on the boards of a number of organizations: Willamette University Alumnae Board, the State of Oregon Commission for Women, Risk Insurance Management Society and my neighborhood homeowner’s association. I know how to mobilize people, get buy in and cooperation. I understand the power of volunteers. I am a team player and prefer to work collaboratively.

How should the school district prioritize spending? First, we need to do all we can to reduce class size. Class size impacts student achievement. Class size matters. Smaller classes allow teachers to individualize instruction. It allows teachers to recognize and intervene with student learning problems. It provides opportunities for high-quality teaching and learning. This leads to higher student achievement.

Secondly, we need to retain counselors, psychiatrists and psychologists. Students in need of these services don’t go away. They fall to the teacher, principal and staff for help. These individuals don’t have adequate skills to deal with every student’s needs.

Third, we need to find ways to restore the arts, music and physical education. These programs help keep students connected and engaged. They add value to education. Music participation provides an opportunity for literacy preparation. Music teachers help students listen and hear in new ways which exercises their aural discrimination. Playing instruments and adding movement to the lessons teaches children about sequential learning, which is essential in reading comprehension.

Lastly, physical education helps shape our students into healthy people and is important for boys to stay focused in class.

What school issue have you tackled at a school building or district level? Have you worked to resolve or address a concern within the Beaverton School District? Three years ago, I saw the need for a parent’s perspective in Consistent Disciplinary Handbook. I sent an email to Holly Lekas, making suggestions on how it could be improved so it would be a useful tool for parents. The email led to an invitation to serve as one of the first parents on the committee in charge of revising the handbook, and I have been serving ever since.

Now there is one document parents can use to learn of the district’s admission procedures, the strategic plan as well as the rationale teachers and administrators take into account when disciplining a child. The name of the document eventually changed to reflect the contents. It is now called the Student Parent Resource Guide.

Please feel free to Google 2009-10 Beaverton School District Handbook and compare it to 2012-13 Student Parent Resource Guide, and you’ll see how much it was changed.

What’s one issue the School Board tackled that you wish had turned out differently? What went wrong? The acceptance of the 2012-13 budget against the recommendation of the budget chair led to significant reduction of staff. The reductions were compounded by teacher transfers and reassignments based on seniority. Now we have a situation with some teachers with certification to teach a particular subject area but no real experience in teaching in that subject, resulting in some teachers learning the subject as they go along which is detrimental to students. I wish that there had been more flexibility in how teachers were reassigned so the needs of the students were thought of first.

What’s one initiative you feel turned out well and what made it work? The church-school partnership is a success. There are churches near every school in the district. Churches can assist the schools with tutoring, transportation help and mentoring and classroom volunteers. They provide backpacks, clothing and other supplies for kids. They are a valuable resource for schools.

The school district faces a number of looming issues. What should it deal with now and how? Which should be priorities for later? We must meet the basic needs of students now. This means class size must be reduced and the mental health needs of our children must be met. Near term we must make sure that all children have access to education for the whole person. Students must have some exposure even if it’s limited to the arts, music and physical education.

How do we accomplish this? Targeting our limited resources there first is a must. We need to review each line item of the budget for ways to reallocate resources and look how we conduct our operations. Does the present school day schedule still make sense? Let’s look at everything. Nothing should be barred from scrutiny.

Our priorities later are to fully fund music, the arts and physical education. In addition to library services and meeting the technology needs of students. We need to do all we can to ensure students are prepared for the careers in the 21st century. Lastly, we can’t forget vocational programs. Developing these skill sets are equally valuable.

What should voters know about you? I believe in public education. I want everyone to have access to excellence so they can contribute to our society. I believe in team work and collaboration. I have good listening skills. I am not afraid of hard work. I have a lot of energy and ideas. I am patient and dedicated. I understand the power of volunteers. I want common sense to rule the day, and I want to be your voice.

How do you plan to encourage citizen involvement/engagement within the district? These are in no particular order:

• Find out what programs work at each school and share these best practices with the community so they can be duplicated at all schools. Sunset High School for example has an exemplary Career/ College program that involves 52 parents. Why can’t other high schools have a similar program?

• Create an inventory of needs. Let’s match parents with teacher needs.

• Ask people directly to serve. Leverage parent groups and other parent-led organizations to make personal calls. People are more inclined to serve if asked.

• Set clear expectations for parent volunteers on how long their commitment is and what is expected of them.

• Have flexible time frames. People work different hours so create opportunities for them to serve at their convenience.

What is your leadership style and how will you work with the superintendent, other members of the board and district staff? My style is participative. I work collaboratively with the group in the decision-making process. I encourage everyone to share until consensus is reached. Two-way communication is the key to brain storming and coming up with creative solutions to address issues and problems. I will work in this fashion with the superintendent and staff as well.

Zone 5

Incumbent: LeeAnn Larsen

Age: 53by: TIMES PHOTO - LeeAnn Larsen

Family: Married 29 years with five children ages 25, 23, 21, 19 and 17.

Job and education background: District manager for US Suites, a corporate housing company. Earned a bachelor's degree in political science and economics from Washington State University.

Neighborhood she lives in: Autumn Ridge in the Five Oaks Neighborhood

Length of time living within the school district: 26 years

School involvement and community service experience: Classroom volunteer; Art Literacy; PTO president and treasurer; Local School Committee; Girl Scout Leader; Health Curriculum Team; Grading/Reporting Team; Care/Prevention Team; Citizens for School Support campaign; Audit Committee; Yes for Beaverton Schools campaign; Budget Committee; current School Board member; and chairwoman of School Board.

What skills, knowledge and experiences do you bring to the School Board? I worked on budgets for the state of Washington. Good parent involvement with the community, so I have an understanding and platform for working with the community. Good listener. Collaborative. Experience of being on the School Board these past four years and working with district leaders and community members.

Why are you running? To use my skills to serve the district and the students in the community.

How should the school district prioritize spending? Students first. We should prioritize to see what the district needs to do to prepare all students to continue making academic advancements each year and to prepare them for their journey after graduation. I would also like to see us prioritize closing the achievement gap for all students.

What school issue have you tackled at a school building or district level? Have you worked to resolve or address a concern within the Beaverton School District? I have tackled the issue of parent involvement at the schools I have been involved with. I used email, newsletters, open forums and word of mouth to encourage parent involvement in all types of events. In addition, when I receive parent input on a particular issue, I work to send them to the appropriate staff member to find resolution.

What’s one issue the School Board tackled that you wish had turned out differently? What went wrong? All of the issues that I have worked on have required compromise and collaboration. Some results I have agreed with and some I have not, but I believe that working together in a collaborative manner brings forth the best result for the final outcome.

What is an initiative you feel turned out well and what made it work? Approving our first charter school (Arco Iris) turned out to be great for our community and district. Good communication between the parents and district staff and an ability to work together to shape and create the charter helped make it a success and one that the board could approve with great pride.

The school district faces a number of looming issues. What should it deal with now, and how? Which should be priorities for later? Lowering class sizes should be a priority by passing the local option levy and putting more teachers back in the classroom. Technology needs to be a priority for the next few years so we can prepare our students to be competitive in the global market after high school. We also need to prioritize closing the achievement gap so our data reflects achievement across all ethnic groups and socio-economic levels.

What should voters know about you? I believe in public education. I am a good listener and will work collaboratively to find good solutions. I am responsive to my community. I answer my emails and phone messages. I have a good understanding of budgets and how they work. I will always put students first in every decision and will focus on increasing student achievement in the next four years.

How do you plan to encourage citizen involvement/engagement within the district? I will continue to attend public forums where I can engage with the community. I will encourage our community engagement subcommittee to continue to challenge the board to work on this area. I will continue to work with the district on our Community Engagement Committees (CEC’s) and seek ways to keep parents involved and draw new ones in. They have been doing a great job at engaging community members, and I would like to see this continue.

What is your leadership style and how will you work with the superintendent, other members of the board and district staff? I am a good listener and will work collaboratively with the superintendent, board members and district staff. I will ask good questions and listen to the community and seek to get their concerns addressed as well. Our superintendent is doing a great job at leading our district and at being a leader at the state level. I trust he will continue to work with the board to bring hope back to our district as we climb out of these economic difficulties.




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