Four candidates with differing backgrounds are vying for a chance to represent District 1 on the Northshore School Board.
Michael Albrecht, Elizabeth Crowley and Brian Travis are challenging incumbent Jacqueline McGourty.
Board members represent the district at large, although they must reside in specific geographical areas. Even though District 1 covers Maltby and parts of Bothell, all registered voters in the district will get a say on each open position.
The following candidates will face off in the Aug. 3 primary election. The top two will continue on to the Nov. 2 general election.
Incumbent Jacqueline McGourty
McGourty, who was first elected to the school board in 2017, said she wants to continue the work she started. She initially hesitated to file for reelection, she said, but ultimately decided she was the best candidate out of the group to continue this work.
She first joined the board at the request of some parents and members of the community, she said.
"Given my background and passion for public education, it was kind of an easy decision to make," she said.
McGourty grew up in a working-class family in St. Louis and attended public school. She said it was clear, even back then, that access to education “depended on where you lived.”
She said her priorities haven’t really changed since being first elected. Equity continues to be a focus for her, especially ensuring that all students have access to mental health resources, special education, music and highly capable services (hi-cap).
She said the last year “put a crimp in everything,” even some things seemingly mundane. While a lot of students did well with online learning, she said, many kids really struggled.
“Each student is an individual learner,” McGourty said. “Now, we need to continue to focus on those students who are struggling and perhaps need some extra help to get ready for the fall.”
According to her, the district will always have room for improvement. She said the switch to virtual learning over the last year and a half provided lots of new tools to use going forward.
"The bottom line for me is that I am committed to public education, and to serving this community, in the best way I can,” she said. “I'd love to continue that work."
Candidate Michael Albrecht:
Albrecht, a recent graduate of North Creek High School, said he wants to be a part of the change in Northshore School District. The 20-year-old is also a three-time cancer fighter.
“Even though I graduated a couple years back, I never left the Northshore system,” he said. “I always watched the school board meetings, even in the hospital when I was going through cancer treatment.”
His platform has a three-pronged approach: no child left behind, academic excellence for all and expanded extracurricular access.
Over the last year, he said, it’s been evident that many children are not behaving the same as they usually do. He attributes this to poor access to mental health solutions.
During the pandemic, Albrecht took an unofficial poll of students in Northshore high schools and middle schools. He found that 78% of students had experienced depression or anxiety as a result of attending school online, he said.
A step toward fixing this problem is making sure schools reopen successfully, he said.
He is aware that parents feel like their voices haven’t been heard in the last year, and he proposes the board include advisory votes in order to get outside perspectives on hot button issues.
Albrecht said he loved being involved with various clubs in high school. However, extracurriculars were always difficult to manage with a seven-course load. For students unable to access after-school activities, he said, all NSD high schools and middle schools should offer club time during the school day.
He acknowledged that many people have questions about his qualifications due to his age and health. For these reasons, Albrecht said, he can relate to students who are both struggling and excelling.
“I can assure you that any questions about excellence, I exceed them,” he said. “I'm a cancer fighter. I know what it's like to struggle. But I’m very healthy and ready to go.”
Candidate Elizabeth Crowley:
Crowley, who has an 8-year-old daughter in the district, said she has experienced the everyday tears and joy of learning over the last year and a half. She also reported feeling distanced from the school, staff members and teachers.
She wants to join the board to open more frequent two-way communications with the community, she said. As a senior manager at Boeing, Crowley said, she participates on many boards to implement policies.
“We need to be constantly adjusting and adapting to make sure that we're doing the best we can,” she said. “Making difficult decisions in a timely fashion is all part of my day job. And so, I think that would be very helpful on the school board.”
She said improving connections between the schools, the community and the board is her first priority.
“I’m hopeful we can reenergize, rebuild relationships and work together,” she said. “We need to be able to provide our children the support they need to be successful in school, but also create an environment where they can help each other.”
She is dedicated to delivering resources equitably across all NSD schools to “develop the whole child” in both the classroom and extracurricular activities, she said.
Crowley also aims to rebuild community support systems with a focus on emotional and educational growth, she said. As a result of the pandemic, she said, students have suffered an emotional toll and social-emotional skills were hindered.
Every person survived this pandemic in a different way, she said, and they're going to be coming out of it with different experiences as well as different levels of successes and complications. In order to rebuild, she added, the district will need to offer a wide variety of opportunities to get children caught up academically and socially.
It’s not a one-size-fits-all problem, she said. Crowley suggests more frequent interaction between parents and teachers as children return to in-person learning. Additionally, she said, there needs to be more learning assessments to see where students stand among their peers after the year apart.
Candidate Brian Travis
(No website available)
Travis, who previously ran for this position in 2017, has said that education is more than just teaching scientific facts and information. He was unavailable for an interview.
According to him, boys and girls of all races and creeds deserve an “America First” education about this country and “the values it was founded upon in 1776.”
He supports the creation of home economics and “good neighbor/good citizen” classes where children are taught everyday life skills such as cooking, food safety and maintaining a home.
In a statement, he said good citizenship classes will focus on teaching manners, common courtesy, social graces, the value of honestly, pride in quality workmanship, hard work, respect for their elders and civil authorities, and patriotism.
“Schools are where the foundations of a child’s character are laid, and must be the place in which the seeds of good citizenship and future civil order are planted,” the statement said.
His statement calls for the elimination of the Teacher/Principal Evaluation Program (TPEP). Travis also wants to see significant administrative paperwork reduction for overworked teachers as well as greater freedoms in planning lessons.
He said families and teachers need protection from “greedy, self-interested teachers’ unions and their allies in the state government who believe children and their education are the property of unions and the state.”
Travis aims to “let children be children,” the statement said. He wants schools to stop “burdening them with deviant ideas about sexuality and gender,” he said. Additionally, he is eager to stop teaching children to “hate their own heritage, ancestors and homeland.”