Three in running for open Touchet School Board seat

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TOUCHET -- The Touchet School Board position held by Sandra Bradley, who did not file to run again, is on the primary ballot, with a counselor, an academic advisor and a respiratory therapist vying for the top votes, and a chance to be on the General Election ballot in November.

In the past three to five years the district has been troubled by financial challenges, stormy conflicts between staff and administrators, and two changes in leadership. After a year under the part-time leadership of interim superintendent Skip Berquam, the board hired Sue Bell as superintendent. Bell assumed her duties July 1.

Eric Burt

Eric Burt, a counselor with a state agency, is interested in moving the school in a positive direction.

"My desire to run for school board is fueled by my desire to work on issues on the district level that are so important to me," Burt said.

Those issues are making the school strong and effective for students and their families, and supporting teachers as they pursue high achievement for each student.

As a board member, Burt said he would be supportive of the teachers. If more budget cuts are necessary, he would not favor increasing class size or eliminating teaching positions.

Burt says he would like to see more interaction with the community

"I am definitely willing to listen to any of the community's advice or complaints. I'm very approachable," he said.

Jose Godinez

Touchet High School graduate Jose Godinez believes financial instability in the Touchet School District should be addressed "before it gets any worse."

Godinez said he would make the Hispanic voice heard on the board. "You need to be, as an institution, aware of these cultures, these different ways of thinking," he said. Almost 33 percent of Touchet students are Hispanic.

With a child who will be a kindergartner in two years, Godinez feels he has a stake in the district's future. He believes the sports program is important, but feels there should be other offerings for children in Touchet as well. The school can play a role in providing enrichment to the community's children through after-school programs such as Millenials and Gear-Up. "That's kind of faded away," he said.

Godinez, who is about the finish a masters of business administration program, said he supports the board being judicious with money, while protecting staff and faculty.

Jody Kromm

Jody Kromm decided to run for the Touchet School Board "because I just felt it was a good time for me to get in the door and help."

A 15-year resident of the Touchet area, Kromm has two school-age children, but she is interested in improving the education of all children in the district.

"I want to help the students succeed and the school to succeed while representing the community," she said.

"I'm honest and I feel that I'm strong in my belief that the children growing up deserve a good education. If I can help with that, that would be my goal," she said.

Kromm said she believes there is always more than one way to solve a problem, including cutting costs.

The expense of running sports programs is an ongoing problem, and Kromm said the board should not be so reluctant to ask students to contribute to the program. "There is pay to play if it came down to it. Other schools do it. It wouldn't have to be a big amount of money," she said.

The students' education should be the primary focus of the school and its leadership, Kromm said.

Carrie Chicken can be reached at cec@innw.net or 522-5289.

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