Cheney Free Press -

By Lee Hughes
Staff reporter 

Medical Lake School Board has one contested director position

 

Last updated 10/24/2019 at 11:34am



MEDICAL LAKE — Only one of three positions are contested in this years school board election in Medical Lake.

While incumbent council president Ron VonLehe and Ron Cooper are running uncontested, incumbent Felicia Jensen is being challenged for her Director Position No. 3 seat by Laura Parsons, who currently serves on the Medical Lake City Council and is not seeking reelection to her seat there.

Each candidate was asked the same questions, sent to the emails listed on the Spokane County Elections website, and offered the same amount of time to respond. Candidates are listed alphabetically. Answers have been edited for style and grammer.

Background and previous experience in public office

Question: Briefly describe your work and educational background that has prepared you to serve on the Medical Lake School Board.

Felicia Jensen

I am a retired military Air Force Officer, I served for 26 years. As a Force Support Officer, our unit was responsible for things such as providing Airman and family support services, quality of life programs for military members and their families, professional military education, and career enhancement. 48 percent of our students are from military families, and my background, expertis, and personal knowledge in that area is an asset to the district.

I am currently the executive assistant to the Dean in the College of Social Sciences at EWU.  I have been with EWU since 2013.

I have a M.S. in Human Resources and a B.A.S. degree in Industrial Technology.

I have served the last 6 years on the Medical Lake School Board.

Laura Parsons

I have been a Medical Lake City council member for 16 years. I have been Mayor Pro Tem three years and chairperson of all the cities committees. (Public works, Public safety, Parks and Recreation and Finance) I have represented the citizens on State, Regional and local boards.  I have earned a BA in applied psychology and a masters in public Administration from EWU.

I have been a resident of Medical Lake for 31 years and a parent of children actively attending MLSD for 28 years.

I have worked as a CNA for 10 years, Drug and alcohol social worker for 12 years and a school bus driver for 10 years. I was a 4-H member for 12 years and an FFA member for four years and earned a State Farmers degree in sheep production.

Role of the board

Question: What do you see as the primary role of the school board, and what can you do, if elected/reelected to the board do to fill that role going into the future?

Felicia Jensen

To hold the schools in the district accountable to accomplish the goals set by the district and the schools themselves. If reelected, I plan on being fully engaged with our current process. This begins with our annual review of the School’s Improvement Plans and then continues throughout the year as we monitor each schools progress on what they have set out to do. In addition to receiving updates from the school administrators, we visit the schools throughout the year and watch our teachers in action with our students. We also are fortunate to have our teachers and students come to us during regular school board meetings and show us what they are learning in the classroom.

Laura Parsons

I have good analytical, leadership and collaborative skills to move the district forward. I am interested in the success of all students.  I want the district to hire the best employees and to be sure they are compensated appropriately and fairly.

I have proven sound judgement, an even temper, a sincere interest in Public education and collaborative skills that will make me a good school board member.

Growth and enrollment

Question: The school district has seen a decline in enrollment during the past three years. While enrollment this year is so far ahead of projections, the enrollment trend is down. What, if anything, do you think the district should do to offset this decline?

Felicia Jensen

Our enrollment has been stable over the past several years, we hover around 1,800 – 1,825 and we haven’t really seen a big decline. It is important to note that because we are a large military district, our enrollment predictors have to factor that in, which isn’t easy. However, we are fiscally responsible with our funding and we stay on top of the enrollment numbers so we can adjust as needed. The great news is that with the onset of Amazon and the other businesses coming to the area, we do anticipate growth in the next few years.

Laura Parsons

As the West Plains grows our school enrollment should increase. Truly connecting with families throughout the entire school journey would be a positive step for the school district. The school district adopting a coherent, end to end approach to strategic enrollment management is an important step forward for K-12 public schools.

Capital projects

Question: The district will be facing capital improvement issues for the next five years and beyond. What is your position regarding the district’s plan to cover those costs, and what, if anything, would you propose to help with those needs beyond the five-year window?

Felicia Jensen

I fully support the funding priorities our superintendent and school administrators have proposed. Every year our schools are assessed and the areas of need are prioritized by safety and infrastructure needs. Most recently one of our needs is taking care of the high school’s roof. That of course will take some time over the next few years, so we have to plan accordingly, and stay on budget, so we can still ensure we have funds available for any unexpected emergencies. I have confidence in the way (we) project and use our funds for our capital projects as the district office always thinks big picture and plans wisely which is why we always have a good ending fund balance.

Laura Parsons

Nearly 30 percent of homebuyers list school quality as a deciding factor in their home purchase. With that in mind the MLSD wants to market ( and prove) itself as an innovative and great school district.

A school district should conduct regular building condition surveys and to develop multi- year facility plans, which can help identify aging, outdated or energy inefficient school infrastructure and facilities issues related to health and wellness.  Heightened safety concerns and changing job markets may also create a community demand for increased school security and improvements to classrooms and technology infrastructure. Students test scores improve when school buildings are improved significantly.

A vote to the citizens is essential for large improvements.

Innovation

Question: The district has been innovative in a variety of areas. What do you feel is the most important of these innovations and why?

Felicia Jensen

This would have to be the second and final phase of the Chromebook roll-out.  Every student in our district now has their own Chromebook. This was possible because we had amazing staff who were able to successfully write the grant which awarded us the funding for it. In today’s day of learning, it is critical that every student has access to technology and learns how to use it.  As a district, we recognize that even at the kindergarten level this is critical. The use of the Chromebook is an additional teaching resource for our teachers and gives our students more learning opportunities.

Laura Parsons

The school district and the city have collaborated on several programs. Parks and Rec provides childcare onsite at Hallett.

The MLSD collaborating with Re*imagine Medical Lake has been wonderful for our citizens and for the marketing of our city. Bringing the Vietnam Veterans Wall to our city was an awesome accomplishment which could not have been done without the support of the community, city and school district.

Lee Hughes can be reached at lee@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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