Port Angeles School Board candidate Sandy Long, standing, explains elements of the school district’s strategic plan Tuesday at a voters forum that included candidates, seated left to right, Katie Marks, Arwen Rice and Jacob Wright. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles School Board candidate Sandy Long, standing, explains elements of the school district’s strategic plan Tuesday at a voters forum that included candidates, seated left to right, Katie Marks, Arwen Rice and Jacob Wright. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Taxes, climate change, ratings discussed in Port Angeles School Board forum

Candidates gather at Port Angeles Business Association event

PORT ANGELES — Four candidates for three open Port Angeles School Board positions fleshed out topics at a forum Tuesday that included dealing with climate change, school district ratings and how to ask property owners to foot the bill to improve the district’s aging facilities.

But the sudden withdrawal of Staci Politika from the Position 5 race left her opponent, Jacob Wright, on his own at the Port Angeles Business Association event, with Katie Marks and Arwen Rice left to offer themselves as choices for Position 3.

Also in attendance before about 40 people was the Position 4 incumbent, School Board President Sandy Long who faces no opposition in her bid for reelection.

Politika notified PABA forum organizer John Brewer in a 10:09 p.m. Monday email that she is dropping out of the race because she felt it was “an unnecessary criteria” for her to file F1 financial information with the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), which is required of all political candidates.

Politika said in an interview later Tuesday that she did not know of the requirement until the PDC notified her July 10.

“Since then, I’ve been feeling like it’s not necessary, [not] a needed thing for a School Board candidate to provide,” Politika said.

“It’s not meant to be high and mighty or that I have a lot of assets.

“It’s making your personal financial information public record.

“I feel like it’s very exposing.”

Marks, 48 as of Nov. 5, Election Day, is director of institutional research at Peninsula College.

Rice, 50 as of Election Day, said she is a writer and a Clallam County park ranger.

She said that her experience as a former education reporter for Peninsula Daily News, gave her a “deep background” in school district issues.

She added that she is a strong supporter of vocational programs.

Marks said she would prioritize advocacy and accountability and would ensure that school district reserves are healthy.

She said she supports passing a property tax measure to improve the Port Angeles School District’s capital facilities.

Voters have repeatedly rejected improvement levies and bonds in recent years.

Rice’s support of a measure “depends on the bond,” she said. “It needs to make sense.

“We need to fix the bond to make it more acceptable to the people, to business owners.”

One questioner cited a rating of seven out of 10 for the Port Angeles School District according to Zillow, an online real estate data company (tinyurl.com/PDN-DistrictRatings).

He suggested the rating might have a negative impact on people moving to Port Angeles.

“As a board member, my duty is to ask questions to see if areas need improvement,” Marks said.

“A rating of seven isn’t enough, and our kids affect the economy and the community.”

Rice said schools from across the country are subject to the ratings without regard to “what the community looks like.”

She said the district has more than 50 percent of children who come from low-income families, many mired in “deep poverty.”

“The district is doing amazing, for the students that walk through the door,” Rice said.

Wright, a Realtor who will be 35 on Election Day, said “as a Realtor and a relocation expert,” he doesn’t hear too much about district ratings but does get an earful about facilities and class sizes.

Long, a retired psychology professor who will be 77 on Election Day, said the board will have to come up with a levy for public consideration “soon,” noting the last facilities measure failed by a slim margin.

The candidates also were asked if the school district has a role in addressing climate change and if they “personally believe that humans have caused the largest part of what we’re seeing.”

Rice said 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is happening and is caused by humans. The other 3 percent are paid by companies to say that it isn’t, she said.

“We can make sure that children are actually learning science well enough that they know what they are doing, that the decisions they are making, that when they evaluate science that they are looking at when they are in school, is it good science, or is it junk science,” Rice said.

Marks said the majority of climate change is caused by humans but would not say how much.

“I do have a belief that climate change is happening, I do have a belief that humans are part of the equations, and I don’t have a percentage,” Marks said.

“I’m very careful as an analyst.”

Wright said the question should be if humans are having a harmful effect on the environment “and do we have a responsibility to do something about it.”

The answers are yes, Wright said.

Long said that humans have impacted the environment.

“I don’t think our country should take full responsibility,” she said.

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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