ANACORTES — In the August primary election, three people are vying for a seat on the Anacortes School Board.
Educator Jennie Beltramini and Anacortes Lutheran Preschool Director Maggie Santos are challenging incumbent Bill Shaw for his seat on the five-person board.
In the Anacortes School District, all board members are "at-large," meaning they are voted on district-wide rather than from specific areas within the district.
Shaw, who was first elected to the seat in 2015, is seeking his second term on the board.
"I am running for re-election because I believe in public education," Shaw said in response to a Skagit Valley Herald questionnaire sent to all candidates. "From my experiences as a public school student, a scientific researcher and educator, a director on public school boards in two states, and a parent, I appreciate the power of education in shaping the futures of our children. In a second term, I will commit my best to supporting our 2,700 students — so all students benefit from their education, just as I have."
The biggest challenge facing the district is finances, he said.
As a result of the state Supreme Court's 2012 McCleary decision, which changed the way the state funds public education, some districts this year — including Anacortes — are facing budget challenges.
"I will come at the budget challenges from both directions," Shaw said. "On the revenue side, I will work closely with our state legislators to modify the education funding model to make it fair for Anacortes children. I will also explore additional ways to fund programs locally. On the spending side, I will work to ensure that budgets are tightly aligned with the district’s strategic plan, including bargaining contract agreements that allow teachers and other school employees to be supported to do their best work and be effective and supporting district initiatives in equity and social-emotional learning."
Beltramini, who now works for a national nonprofit organization, said she was running for office to continue to support the community she has been a part of for the past 13 years.
"I’ve dedicated my career to supporting teachers, improving opportunities for kids, and connecting with families," she said in her questionnaire. "In addition to bringing the perspective of an educator, I am also collaborative, a critical thinker, a good listener, and open to learning. I look forward to hearing from families and the community, asking good questions, and being open to discussion with community members and district staff about how best to lead the school district."
She also said funding is the biggest issue facing the district.
"I believe an organization’s budget is a reflection on (its) priorities," she said. "If the success of all students is a priority, the budget should reflect that. For students to be successful, policies and decisions should protect the classroom and students. I also know that the current budget situation districts are in, including Anacortes, can be improved through working together creatively with lawmakers to ensure important funding is restored."
Santos said she is running because she sees the opportunity for growth in the district, particularly when it comes to non-traditional learners.
"Helping students who are non-traditional learners obtain academic success in experiential non-traditional methods is important in all grade levels," she said.
To address it, she said, she would work to create additional opportunities for students to achieve the required credits.
"Since there is a statistically high percentage of students with learning disabilities and minimal resources to help identify them, I would work to help establish policies and programs to support ASD staff and parents in identifying and supporting these students’ needs so they can be successful and self sufficient through all of their learning years," she said.