Voters in the Kennewick School District endured nasty and divisive races for the school board in 2007.
Echoes of it are repeated this year. That's regrettable.
The direction of Kennewick schools weighs in the balance -- either stick with the district's emphasis on core skills such as reading, writing and math, or shift priorities to give more attention to music, the arts and other disciplines outside the core.
Certainly, both are essential to a well-rounded education, but a solid foundation in the basics is the key to success in any endeavor -- artistic, technical, professional or vocational.
Our recommendations are for candidates we feel are best prepared to stay the course.
Kintzley vs. Armstrong
In the race for Position 1, voters are lucky to have a candidate with the experience, training and personality to help heal the rift. It helps that she is in the race for the kids, not for herself.
She's Heather Kintzley, a young prosecutor for the city of Kennewick who sees a direct relationship between school dropouts, criminal activity and our growing gang problem.
Her opponent, Jason Armstrong, is a senior health physicist for Battelle, who says he gets to work with "the best and the brightest." He was a volunteer with the successful $68 million bond approved by district voters in the spring.
Armstrong has children in public schools and says he would advocate for everyone in the district: "I'll be transparent. I'll communicate their ideas, concerns, passions about the education system."
Kintzley has the better insights, we believe, into the very real problems on the school board.
She notes that a minority on the board wants to move the district away from its emphasis on core subjects that students will need in later (or not so much later) life.
"A tremendous number" of the youth she sees in her work don't have high school educations, she says.
She enjoyed sports and extracurricular activities during her own student days, but, "My studies were first. My priorities were you get the work done and then you have the fun."
Kintzley has deep roots in the Tri-Cities, and says she wants to give back to the community by serving on the board and working from within to improve the education system.
Kintzley's aunt is school board President Dawn Adams, and they share similar philosophies on education. But we're convinced of Kintzley's independence. Our take is that she will come to the board with an open mind and a rational approach.
Adams vs. Creek
In the race for Position 2, incumbent Dawn Adams faces an interesting challenger in school district employee Uby Creek.
We like Creek. We said as much when we endorsed her two years ago in her unsuccessful run for the Kennewick School Board. She's got a lot of enthusiasm and comes across as a voice of the people.
Her ties to the Hispanic community and her language skills would surely provide a connection to the ever-increasing number of Hispanic students and parents in the district. Creek also has a broad appeal, capable of reaching across the vast diversity of families in the district.
But Adams is formidable. She is a product of the Kennewick School District; her father worked for the schools for 30 years.
She has been on the board since 2001. She is a vice president at Parsons, and her management experience and attention to detail make her a great addition to the school board. She's helped increase workplace safety and has a keen eye on the fiscal bottom line.
When it comes to the division on the school board, Adams falls into the group that wants to continue pressing the focus on reading and double classes for students who fall behind in core subjects.
Creek wants to see improvements in math and science, encourage parents to be more active and have a more fiscally sound district.
Both Creek and Adams have had children in Kennewick schools. Both are enthusiastic about education and have much to offer.
We admire Creek's spirit and deep feelings about education in Kennewick.
But we believe Adams deserves to keep her seat on the board. She is best positioned to continue to make improvements to the district.
The Herald editorial board recommends Heather Kintzley and Dawn Adams for Kennewick School Board.