Editor's note: The Wasco County Republican Central Committee held a D21 school board informational candidate forum at its monthly meeting in April. Eight of the 13 candidates for the non-partisan positions attended. The Chronicle is presenting their responses in a series of articles. Following are the statements of the three candidates for Zone 5, Sherry Perry, Bethani Frantz-Studebaker and Josh Farris.
District 21 Zone 5 candidate Sherry Perry led off in answering questions at a recent candidate forum hosted by the local Republican party, saying she was running because “students deserve an education that is diverse and also prepares them to be competitive” in either the workforce or further education.
She said she supported new schools, but in a timeline the community could support. She said schools need to be secure and have updated technology.
Six of the seven board positions for the North Wasco County School District 21 board are up for election on the May 21 ballot.
Noting some current board positions were filled by appointees, Perry said the community deserved a school board that was elected by voters, and a board that could be trusted because it took the community’s needs and desires into account.
She has a bachelor’s degree in athletic training and worked as an athletic trainer in an industrial setting, then owned a paddleboard business in The Dalles before becoming a stay-at-home mom.
Of her skillset, she’s served on the D21 budget committee, and said opening a business is a crash course in organization. She said she’s worked with groups that helped decide the best course of action, taking into consideration client needs and budget concerns.
“The school bond last year turned out to be a very divisive thing,” she said, and her vision for the district was to bring a balance between the group that felt the $235-million bond was too expensive and those who were willing to pay for it.
She wanted to build trust through being straightforward, and she’d like to introduce art and science to students earlier, and to expand career offerings.
Bethani Frantz-Studebaker, who was appointed to the Zone 5 position last summer, said she’s a full professor in graduate education, working with doctoral candidates in education. She works locally and nationally on the continuing advancement and strengthening of education.
She said she’s strongly motivated by the academic aspects of serving on the school board, but her main motivation is that she’s a mom with three kids in the district.
She said her children have had great teachers and she takes great pride in the school district. She said the district is boundless in its potential impact on the community.
She said her skillset included a strong background in educational institution management and internal controls on policy and procedures; familiarity with trends in education; and skills in collaborative problem solving, including meeting the community’s needs as well as those of state partners.
She said she believed in deliberating with many voices but governing with a collective voice.
She said she came with no personal agenda but has a desire to serve on a team with shared power and influence and to continue working to strengthen education in the district.
Josh Farris was critical of the failed school bond and said the situation in the district was “serious.” He said he’d been told that “upward of half the teachers are on anti-depressants. If you look at the schools they resemble juvenile detention centers.”
Farris has worked as a teacher, studied education history, is a veteran, and also works as an electrician. He’s also a parent, he said, and his motivation for running was to create the best schools and a thriving community for his daughter.
He said the public can either pay now to educate kids, or pay more later when poorly educated children go on to become incarcerated or have problems like addiction and homelessness.
He said the bond to build four new schools would’ve “marginally increased student homelessness” because the tax increase would’ve priced some families out of their residences.
He favored retrofitting buildings and creating “the absolute tightest budget we can.”
He said the board needed to reach out to the community and find out what price point the community could support in a bond.
He said he didn’t want “to get into platitudes, he wanted to get into hard policy.”
He said, “I’m willing to take a stand. I’m outspoken and I will tell you how it is.”