Three candidates vying for a seat on the Yakima school board | Elections



Three candidates are vying for position 2 on the Yakima School Board, with Don Davis Jr. vying to retain his seat.

Davis, Ryan Beckett and KateAshley Clarke are running for the post, which has an unpaid four-year tenure. Davis was appointed to this position in 2016 before being elected in 2017.

The first two candidates for the August 3 primary will qualify for the November general election. Beckett is the only candidate to have declared funds for his campaign, bringing in $ 7,846 in cash and contributions, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.

Davis did not respond to multiple interview requests.

The school board has five members who lead Superintendent Trevor Greene on how to lead the approximately 2,000 staff and nearly 16,000 students in the district, the largest number in Yakima County.

The student body was 80.1% Hispanic or Latino students for the 2020-21 school year, 15.6% white students, 2.5% multiracial students, according to the State Office of the superintendent of public education. Almost 80% of the students were from low-income families. Thirty percent were English language learners. 14% were students with disabilities and 9% were migrant students.

Only 23.6% of kindergarten students in the 2019-2020 school year started school in the district with foundational skills considered to make them ‘kindergarten ready’, a key indicator of whether students will be on track in third year – in turn indicating whether a student graduates on time. In comparison, 51.5% of the state’s students entered kindergarten “ready”.

Over the past few years, Yakima School Board has participated in the creation of a six-year strategic plan for the school district, which focuses on five areas of focus: developing a strong foundation in the early years leading in kindergarden; develop an empowered and engaged student body; create a fair opportunity to achieve basic mastery and critical thinking; help students become bilingual and illiterate after graduation; and improving persistence to graduation and beyond.

During the pandemic, the Yakima School District acted with caution by returning its staff and students to buildings. It was the last in the county to refer all students to on-campus learning, but was ahead of many schools elsewhere in the state. During distance learning, the district worked to make school internet connections accessible to students anywhere within the district and made devices available to each student to take home. him.

District officials said they were focusing on accelerating students over the coming year, with the goal of not only catching up with children on lost learning and socialization, but also propelling them.

What is your plan to help educators upgrade children in learning in response to the disruption caused by the pandemic?

Beckett said the kids need to be back in person full time, but distance school is likely to be a useful tool, indicating future snow days or natural disasters. He said the district should focus on training teachers, “to make sure they are comfortable delivering educational content through Google Meet or the Zoom School.”

Beckett said this tool would be a “critical component that will capitalize on earnings,” even if schools return to full-time in-person teaching as soon as possible.

Clarke said she strongly supports in-person education. “I think this is the best way for students to get the hands-on education they need and which will catch up with them the best,” she said.

She said she would support “any measures aimed at having in-person education and ensuring that teachers are able to help students in person and see what their needs are.” Clarke also plans to speak with educators to better understand what losses occurred during the pandemic.

“I want to organize sessions with instructors to hear from them first-hand what it looks like and what metrics would help them catch up with students, be it tutoring hours or special sessions for students who have not yet caught up. “

How to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in Yakima schools?

“I believe it is possible to celebrate diverse cultures and promote inclusion in our educational environments without teaching children to judge others by the color of their skin. We already have an extremely diverse population in our school district, and I think our teachers, the people on the front lines, do an incredible job teaching our children to begin with, ”he said.

He said the Yakima school board should be ready to address concerns from staff, parents and students about a new law regarding diversity, equity and inclusion training in schools and sharing. how the district manages this in its schools.

“The focus on improving it should be on making sure it’s consistent, that our message is positive and inclusive, and doesn’t degenerate into the cynical and the negative.” He said the state’s new law – SB 5044 – requires training for both staff and students. It doesn’t – it requires diversity, equity and inclusion training for all school staff and school board members.

“Yakima school district is one of the most diverse in the state, and the school board recently proposed its equity policy, and I think that policy in itself is opposed to what the civil rights law is. intended to propose, which eliminates segregation, ”she said. “The equity policy implements segregation by dividing students into groups based on race, class and gender. So from that point of view… I am opposed to this policy.

Rather than focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion, “the best way forward is to focus on education. I am convinced that a solid education is what will pave the way for students to be – for every student to be – prepared for their future and for their career and the job market. “

How would you approach improving parent and community engagement in schools?

“Parent engagement with student engagement is obviously one of the biggest success factors for any student in their education, so we must continue to reach out in imaginative and creative ways to engage with parents.” , did he declare.

Beckett praised the work done by the Yakima School District public relations department to engage parents through channels such as social media, but said there were opportunities to improve this. “Not all parents receive information the same or at the same time, so hitting people in as many different places as possible to make sure the information gets to parents” is a goal to continue working towards, he said. he declared.

Clarke said she would like to encourage parent engagement at school board meetings.

“There is less attendance and this is partly due to the pandemic and the fact that the meetings are virtual,” she said. She would endeavor to inform and remind parents in the district of upcoming meeting dates, in part through a newsletter in which Clarke plans to “explain what policies are being put forward, what we will be proposing as members of the school board and invite comments. “

She said she also plans to hold her own quarterly open-invitation meetings where parents and community members can provide feedback, express their desires for new district efforts, and provide feedback on existing policies of the district. school council. “I hope parents will feel that they are ownership, that they are engaged, that they are heard and that their concerns are taken into account.


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