Kiona-Benton City School Board member Dan Raap and his challenger Wade Haun say a lot of work needs to be done in the district, and each says he's the one to help get it done.
Both are vying for a seat on the board in Tuesday's general election.
Raap said changes in Ki-Be schools in recent years are showing promise of academic improvement. It's important the district continue that innovation and that he be involved.
"If we execute correctly, I think we can really benefit the district," he said.
Haun, however, said it's time to lead the district to a new future that is more positive than during Raap's tenure.
"Everybody's ready for a change," Haun said.
Raap, who has been on the board 10 years, was born and raised in the region, attending school in Prosser. He served in the Marine Corps and worked at the Hanford site for 30 years, but now is a farmer and owns rental properties. His two daughters graduated from Kiona-Benton City High School, and his son and a grandson still attend schools in the district.
Haun was born and raised in Benton City but moved back seven years ago after living in California and Spokane. He worked in banking but is now a bookkeeper and print specialist at the BIG Print Shop in Benton City. His son graduated from Kiona-Benton City High last year.
Raap said the district has done things to stay ahead of the curve, such as implementing full-day kindergarten before it became a state priority and building a new Ki-Be High several years ago.
Education is changing rapidly in the state, Raap said, with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in language arts and math, more court-ordered state money coming to K-12 schools and the increasing role of technology.
"These are opportunities," he said.
Haun also said the district needs to prepare for Common Core and the increasing academic standards it will bring.
However, he was motivated to run for office because of personnel issues in the district, particularly among teachers and administrators. The district has been involved in several labor disputes that required it to pay tens of thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees.
The district needs more transparency in its dealings and a better environment for teachers and students, he said, adding "if somebody doesn't agree with you then that should be OK and they shouldn't be targeted or ignored."
"There's a level of professionalism we have to maintain," he said.
Raap said the district has gone through a rough patch and drifted away from communicating properly with the community. He said he'd like to start having workshop meetings with the board and the public, something that used to be done regularly and provided a way to get questions answered.
But the district, like any other in the state, will never be without friction or controversy, he said. A recent article in Benton City's weekly newspaper indicated that in 1949 the district also was being criticized by the public for the job the board was doing.
"If we do what's best for students, in the long run, it will be good for teachers, administrators and staff," Raap said.
Haun said a board with fresh faces is what will be best for students and the community.
"I think I'm a good listener and I'll take people's concerns to heart," he said. "I just don't believe my opponent does that.
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w Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @_tybeaver