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Elect Riedel, Drinkwine, Greene to Estacada School Board

The Estacada School District is fortunate to have solid candidates in the three contested races for the positions on the School Board.

Each of the candidates, in their own way, brings something unique to the race, which isn't always true of these races. In that regard, the Estacada News is comfortable across the board with these candidates — Angela Riedel and Tim Schultz for Zone 1; Sean Drinkwine and Sonja McCarty for Zone 3; and Semira Clark, Mark Greene and John James for Zone 5.

Unfortunately, in the endorsement process, the newspaper — like all voters — has to make a choice. In arriving at our decisions, we considered which candidates we felt might be the best fit considering the significant challenges ahead for the district.

Among those challenges are declining enrollment, the difficulty of keeping pace with Public Employee Retirement System expenses, lagging state funding, fewer teachers, larger class sizes and the proposed loss of important educational opportunities in the effort to cut expenses.

While dealing with all of this, the board faces the unenviable chore of hiring a new superintendent, who will replace Howard Fetz who heads off into retirement in June 2014.

Most of these challenges faced by Estacada schools are the direct result of an insidious decline in state revenue, with the choices on funding made in Salem.

But there likely are choices and strategies that can be launched here in Estacada that might be able to overcome some of those losses, turning the tide away from program loss and back toward program enhancement.

The people elected to the Estacada School District Board of Directors need to be those who are best equipped and prepared to make those changes. While we are confident that each of these candidates could be successful, we give the edge to three of them.

Angela Riedel — Zone 1

Riedel has served on the board in the past and only left when she went to work for the district as a nurse. Now that she no longer works for the district, she's hopeful to regain a position on the board.

Riedel advocates for transparency on board decisions, which is refreshing from the public's point of view. And she has a solid handle on the needs of the district. We agree with her view that the district's next superintendent must understand and embrace small towns, rather than using Estacada as a stepping stone to something larger. We think Riedel will have serious expectations of the next superintendent, as all patrons of the district should.

Sean Drinkwine — Zone 3

If you want to make something happen, go with the busy person who has a plan.

In this case, we're talking about Sean Drinkwine — President of Estacada Area Community Events, parks and recreation liaison, member of the board of the Estacada Development Association and Main Street Program, and — if that wasn't enough — member of the Estacada City Council.

We aren't quite sure we understand how Drinkwine plans to help the school district through his idea of forming a new relationship with the Estacada City Council. It's not as if the city government has extra money laying around. But we aren't willing to discount the experience Drinkwine can bring the bear.

We want to give him the opportunity to explore this relationship. And we believe this relationship has a better chance at developing with one person acting as the go-between.

With his experience in local government, there is perhaps no better person to have in the school district's corner.

Mark Greene — Zone 5

Of the three candidates in this race, he's the only one who has looked at the budget. That says something. And as the incumbent, he can seamlessly work at helping solve the district's financial woes. The other candidates face a steep learning curve that puts them months behind.

Greene already is working on a plan to rebrand the Estacada School District through creation of charter schools that would be housed at the River Mill building. He and others hope to grow enrollment in the district, leading to an inflow of state dollars, rather than a continued decline.

Endorsements

For the reasons stated above, The Estacada News recommends votes for Angela Riedel, Sean Drinkwine and Mark Greene.




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