PROSSER -- In the District 2 race for the Prosser School Board, incumbent Tim Rankin is focused on preparing for more steep cuts from the Legislature, while challenger Bill Jenkin says the biggest concern is the partnership among the district, parents and the community.
The Prosser School Board general election is Nov. 8. Ballots for Benton and Klickitat counties will be mailed Wednesday.
Rankin, 46, an orthopedic surgeon at Prosser Memorial Hospital, has been on the board since 2007, and says the biggest issue facing the district is the financial strain being handed down from Olympia.
He's particularly worried that legislators will go after levy equalization, which helps make up the difference in bond revenue between districts like Prosser and districts with higher property values.
"We're going to really have to change some things," he said. "Right now we know the future is bleak, and we're going to prepare for the worst."
He says that means making tough decisions, like cutting nonessential classes and programs. It could mean rearranging athletic leagues so Prosser teams don't have to pay high transportation prices to compete out of town.
Rankin said a new high school bond is also a concern -- the district's $41.3-million, 20-year proposal failed earlier this year -- and that it might need to go back to the drawing board to pare down the cost. He suggested a more flexible school building, structured with movable walls to divide the space into classrooms as needed. He believes a new high school is necessary, however.
Jenkin, 55, on the other hand, emphasized that he did not enter the race because of the bond issue. He wants to work on how the district relates to the community, and believes his years of working with the local Boys and Girls Club make him well-suited to do so.
He is a financial adviser for Edward Jones branch office and owner of the Prosser Vineyard and Winery.
He wants to "bring the Boys & Girls Club philosophy into the school district," he said.
"With the Boys and Girls Club, I saw right away the difference that the structured environment ... made in the kids. Their personal responsibility, their citizenship, their respect, their honesty, their grades -- everything went up."
He says the philosophy means encouraging parents to volunteer more and establishing some one-on-one mentorship for the children.
Jenkin said his financial background would be an asset in resolving the bond issue and other budget concerns "in a fiscally responsible manner."
"We have to protect the taxpayers," he said. Also, "Accountability all the way around," namely for teachers and administrators.