With plans to take more community action and increase transparency, two Northshore School District parents are challenging a 12-year incumbent for an open seat on the school board of directors.
Incumbent Sandy Hayes is running against candidates Chris Roberdeau and Katya Bautista for a chance to continue serving District 4 on the Northshore School Board.
Board members represent the district at large, although they must reside in specific geographical areas. Even though District 4 covers parts of Bothell and Woodinville, 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 Sandy Hayes: www.sandyhayesforschoolboard.wordpress.com
Hayes, who was first elected in 2009, said she aims to be a voice for students and households who might not have a strong understanding of the school system. She tries to volunteer at elementary, middle and high schools in the district each week to get an understanding of what is happening in the classrooms, she said.
“It's been an amazing 12 years,” Hayes said. “It's an honor to represent the students, the staff, the parents, and the community of Northshore. It's a great district. I have loved the work and want to continue doing it.”
She wants to continue the effort to ensure every student is prepared for the second half of the 21st century, she said. Even more now, she said, NSD has an “amazing opportunity to learn from the last year.”
Hayes said the district can improve by embracing the idea that every student should “graduate as a lifelong learner.” Whatever path students take in today’s world, she said, they will need to continue with the ability to learn.
Two years ago, Hayes spearheaded the pilot program Launch Day for seniors at Inglemoor High School to teach students about lifestyle changes after graduation, what to expect at college, how to manage personal finances, when to go to the doctor and other important subjects. She said she's looking forward the district bringing the program back in-person for all high schools next year.
Hayes, with three terms under her belt, said she is most proud of the work being done to open doors for kids in the district, such as expanding access to highly capable services, eliminating fees for elementary music, increasing mental health counselors, and the move to one-to-one devices.
Upon the return to in-person learning, Hayes said, she is prepared to really focus on gaps in learning among children this fall. The incumbent is also dedicated to supporting students through “pent up grief” from the trauma and isolation of the last year, she said.
Candidate Chris Roberdeau: www.chrisroberdeaunsd.com
Roberdeau said the district has the capabilities and resources available to make sure that every kid is given an optimal learning environment. Despite this, he believes Northshore has fallen behind in a few areas and needs to refocus its priorities, he said.
“There's changes that need to happen,” he said. “There's a lot of great things going on, but we need to get back to the fundamental mission of educating the kids and making sure that they all have the same opportunities for advancement and growth and learning.”
With two kids currently in the district and one who graduated last year, Roberdeau said, he has an overall concern that kids are not learning enough. He said the decision to run for school board was fueled by frustrations about funding decisions, busing policies, and inaction from the board, among other things.
He said NSD tried to be out-front at the beginning of the pandemic. But eventually, he said, the district fell behind everybody else “to the point where decisions were being made for them by others.” For example, he said, the district was forced to “actually take action” after Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency proclamation in April that required schools to provide some format of in-person learning.
Roberdeau, whose wife is a school psychologist in another district, said he comes from a family of teachers, administrators, and union representatives. He said being around educators for all these years has provided him with a broad background in education as well as the resources needed to ask hard questions.
Even before COVID-19, he said, he felt the district was not progressing from an educational standpoint. He said there is an inconsistency problem related to curriculum across the district, which ultimately “comes down to a leadership issue.”
His number one priority would be assessing students in the fall to determine where they compare to grade-level standards. He wants there to be a plan in place to “close that gap as rapidly and effectively as possible” in order for students to be prepared for the next steps in life, he said.
He also acknowledged that every child will react differently as they return to full-time, in-person learning. He said counselors and psychologists must be available across the entire district during this transition. Additionally, he said, the board should ensure teachers have the resources to handle the various needs of all students.
Katya Bautista: www.katyabautista4nsd.com
Bautista, who has a kindergartner in the district, said she was initially targeting the private school sector for her young one. However, the waiting list was too long.
“I just decided, well, let's change something in the in the public-school sector,” she said. “Because there are a bunch of people like myself that cannot [get their kids] into private schools to have the same level of education.”
Having grown up in the eastern European country of Belarus, Bautista said, she noticed that schools have a different structure here. In the United States, she said, school boards are “really politics involved” rather than focusing solely on giving kids knowledge.
As an immigrant, Bautista said, she has a different perspective and can see things “outside of the box.” She’s really passionate about bringing knowledge to kids, she said, but not politics.
She also thinks it’s strange how often the school board votes 5-0 on propositions, she said. According to her, the school board should represent five individuals with different views and opinions.
Bautista's campaign website says the current board is plagued by inaction, lack of transparency and a refusal to listen to the community. She claims that “graduation rates have declined” and “mental health has plummeted” within the district. The district had a 95% graduation rate in the 2019-2020 school year, according to state data.
Bautista said the board needs to also listen to parents who aren't the most vocal, especially since many families do not have spare time on their plates. Because the system is not transparent, she said, parents are struggling to find ways to be involved.
The board talks a lot about equality, she said, but never mentions statistics about how many graduates are able to get into their preferred colleges or the average grade point students achieve when they finish school.
“School is a place where kids have to receive the knowledge so they will have opportunities in their future life,” she said.