CHIMACUM — Four candidates for one Chimacum School District board position provided their input on how declining enrollment, among other issues, is affecting the district.
Gary Frogner, Jeremy Perrott, Steve Martin and Kristina Mayer participated Monday night in a candidate forum at the Tri-Area Community Center, which was sponsored by the Jefferson County League of Women Voters.
The District 3 position is one of three board spots up for election this fall, but it’s the only one with more than two candidates who will be on the Aug. 6 primary ballot. The winner will replace current board chair Mike Gould, who chose not to run for re-election.
There are five total seats on the board.
All four candidates spoke at length in front of a crowd of about 25 people regarding declining enrollment and had similar ideas on how to reverse the trend.
The forum was moderated by Shelley Randall in front of a mix of League of Women Voters members, Chimacum School District employees and the public.
Martin said specific guidelines have been set by community stakeholders to address declining enrollment, but the current board is ignoring them.
“This is my platform, I am going to bring [the guidelines] to every board meeting I can,” Martin said. “Let’s pursue this document.”
Perrott said he’s wants to improve the district’s social media presence and help change the current board’s slow-moving structure.
“It’s 2019. Every institution should have a strong social media presence,” Perrott said. “[The current board] look lost. It takes a long time to get anything done.”
More community involvement was another major issue with the candidates.
Mayer said she wants to improve academic standards and what she classified as a low graduation rate.
She said it was “really sad that we lost our bond by a small margin. We have some work to do to engage our community.”
Frogner wants to raise the district’s education standards from meeting state averages to exceeding them.
“The board sets the goals,” Frogner said. “They set the standard.
“If being average is good enough, then that is where the bar is. The board can insist the bar is excellence.”
The election comes during a time of difficulty as the board is facing the effects of the “McCleary fix,” which is limiting the budget based on student enrollment. The district is facing more than a $1 million deficit.
The forum was designed as a question-and-answer session, where attendees submitted written questions to the candidates, and every candidate had two minutes to answer.
Three more forums are planned for the general election in November.
Port Townsend School District and Port of Port Townsend candidates will debate Oct. 1 at the Port Townsend Community Center, 620 Tyler St.
Port Townsend City Council candidates will be on the docket Oct. 10 at the community center.
All Chimacum School Board candidates will be featured Oct. 14 at the Tri-Area Community Center, 10 West Valley Road.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].