Daily News editorial

The TDN editorial board is endorsing Howard Sharples for Kelso School District Position No. 3.

The Daily News editorial board met with Howard Sharples and Allen Warner. Usually, we meet with both candidates at the same time, but because of scheduling conflicts, we met with them separately. However, we made sure to ask each candidate the same questions to get an understanding of where they stand.

We discussed the candidates’ top three priorities along with their views on contract negotiations within the school district, recruiting teachers and the district’s $98.6 million facilities improvement plan.

Although we believe either of these candidates would be a fine choice for the residents of Kelso, it is their differences that led us to endorse Howard Sharples.

Both candidates are former teachers who believe in hiring quality teachers who have gone to college to earn the required education and certification instead of hiring people who received Conditional Teacher Certificates.

The education of children and hiring quality teachers with pay based on cost of living are Sharples’ top priorities. Both should be done in fiscally responsible manners, he said.

Sharples noted that a number of teachers in the district don’t live in the local community and commute to and from work. Many of these teachers move on to other districts where they can receive significantly larger salaries. Sharples believes attracting and keeping these teachers requires a re-evaluation of policies, including aggressively recruiting teachers.

He also believes in focusing on the quality of children’s educations by giving them and their teachers what is needed to achieve those goals. Not all children will go to college, he said, and with the nationwide focus on testing, children who would be good candidates for education in the technical trades field are missing out. Participating in technical trades training programs that offer apprenticeships would give students a chance to earn money while learning a skill.

Allen Warner had a different approach.

He would like to see the school administration focus more on teacher perspectives; reduce the “several day training seminars” for better training, mentoring or coaching; and involve parents more in decision-making.

Warner believes teachers are “micromanaged” and are not given enough opportunity to offer their input on how teaching can be improved through different methods. He would like to see teachers spend time with their peers in the classrooms to learn what works for them, discuss those ideas and perhaps implement them.

He suggests moving district administrators’ offices into the schools to involve them more in the day-to-day goings on in the education system, and perhaps even shutting down the administration building.

Both candidates are in favor of the upcoming bond, noting that many buildings need improvement and some should be replaced.

When questioning each candidate about the bond, we asked if they would be in favor of “naming rights” – accepting public or private partnerships where money is donated to improve facilities, stadiums, fields, etc., in exchange for naming them after the donors.

Warner said he was not in favor, as an individual, but would defer to the voters.

Sharples said he was open to the idea, but would not want to rename anything of significant importance to the community. But, he is willing to explore all options.

Both believe in hiring the most capable and quality teachers to focus on improving children’s educations. Warner believes the schools should focus more on the classroom and less on extracurricular activities, perhaps reducing athletics in favor of more education.

Sharples believes extracurricular activities are critical. They help children stay in school. Whether it is sports or music, Sharples believes students do better academically when they also are involved in extracurricular activities. Educators need students to develop in as many different ways as they can, he said.

We urge you to vote for Howard Sharples for the Kelso School District Position No. 3.

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