Three candidates are running to replace Mary Guay in Richland School Board position 4.
Brett Amidan, Emily Allen and Jill M. Oldson have all have children in the district, and have been volunteers or parent teacher organization members.
Guay did not run for reelection to the board.
Amidan, 47, is a statistician at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, as well as an adjunct faculty member at Washington State University Tri-Cities.
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He has four children who have been or are now in the Richland School District. He was involved with Richland Citizens for Good Schools, which successfully encouraged residents to vote for a $98 million bond package in 2013.
Amidan will bring the point of view of a West Richland resident to the board, something it now lacks, he said. He would also use his statistical background to assist with analyzing school district data.
“I've sat through school board meetings where they show standardized testing results, and the way they do the results makes me cringe,” he said. “It's not very apples to apples.”
Amidan ran for the school board in 2011, losing to incumbent Phyllis Strickler.
Allen, 43, has a daughter who recently graduated from the district and a son who will be a high school junior in the fall. She is a substitute teacher in the district, but said she would leave the position if elected.
“I think the Richland School District had a history of a strong educational program, but with the growth in the district and all the mandated stuff for the district, I think we need to protect that,” Allen said.
Oldson, 49, has been a substitute para educator with the district and president of the parent-teacher organization. She has worked in sales and marketing in the past.
Her daughter is an incoming sophomore at Richland High School, while her son will be a sophomore at Carmichael Middle School.
“I've always had a passion for education and making sure that people understand the value of education,” Oldson said. “I think if you don't instill that value at an early age and instill the need to learn, you can lose them. My kids understand those values, but now it's my turn to help some of those kids in families that don't understand those values.”
All three candidates are generally supportive of the bond and the way the building projects have been carried out.
The new and renovated schools are helping level the playing field between the growing and older parts of the district, Oldson said. But she would like to see more done, including using discretionary district income to allow campuses that can't afford it to go on field trips and extracurricular activities.
“I just think we need to make sure that every child gets the same opportunity,” she said.
Oldson would also like to see the district have a longer-range plan for new buildings, which could be implemented over many years using money from multiple bond elections.
Allen went to a number of school board meetings leading up to the bond election, and felt positively about it, she said.
“There wasn't a lot that surprised me in how things were carried out,” she said.
Amidan would like to see another school in West Richland because Tapteal Elementary is “overflowing.”
“West Richland is where the growth is, but they haven't put a school out there even though they have the land,” he said.
The candidates have concerns about all-day kindergarten, which the district plans to implement in the 2015-16 school year.
“I like all-day kindergarten,” Allen said. “I'd like for parents to be able to opt for a half day. I think there's a difference between the full-day experience and the half-day experience.”
Oldson also feels parents should have the choice between all-day and half-day kindergarten.
“I think those who want all-day kindergarten should be able to do it,” she said. “But those who want their kids to spend more time at home should have that option, as well.”
All-day kindergarten is not bad if the district can afford it, Amidan said.
“I wouldn't want to do it at the expense of making the class sizes large,” he said.
Primary voting for school board races is open to residents of all parts of the district. The top two vote-getters in the Aug. 4 primary will move on to the November general election. The nonpartisan office has a four-year term.
Richland School Board members are paid up to $4,000 a year.
For more election stories, go to tricityherald.com/election.