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School board candidates pitch solutions for Federal Way | ELECTION
The Mirror hosted an election forum Oct. 23, featuring candidates for Federal Way School Board. Candidates fielded questions from the audience. The forum was moderated by Dr. T.M. Sell of Highline Community College.
There are two contested school board races in the general election:
• Position 1: Ed Barney (incumbent) vs. Geoffery McAnalloy. Barney was first elected to the board in 2001, while this is McAnalloy’s first candidacy for public office. Barney works as a job trainer for Deseret Industries. McAnalloy works as a post sales engineer for CenturyLink.
• Position 4: Carol Gregory vs. Medgar Wells. Both are running for the seat vacated by Angela Griffin. In the Aug. 6 primary election, Gregory advanced to the general election with 44.2 percent of the vote, while Wells finished second with 38.3 percent. Gregory is director of Burst for Prosperity, a non-profit organization that helps low-income families become self-sufficient. Wells is principal of Overcomer Academy, a private school on Military Road in Auburn.
School board candidates discussed their educational philosophies and addressed a handful of controversial issues facing the district, including the grading system and parental engagement.
Below is a sample of questions candidates answered from the audience.
Q: How will you hold the district accountable for failing to start a working grading system?
• Wells: That’s his top priority. Even as an educator, he found the district’s non-traditional grading system confusing. Parents must be able to understand the grading system.
• Gregory: Any system that parents can’t understand is wrong. The board must hold the superintendent accountable for making sure the system works.
• McAnalloy: The system is broken and doesn’t work, and the board is not taking responsibility. The district needs to go back to averages, and students need to understand where they stand as far as grades.
• Barney: He defended the system and looks at it as a competency-based system, and if a kid knows the subject, he or she should be able to get the equivalent of an A.
Q: What is your stance on charter schools?
• Barney: Federal Way doesn’t need them. Current district schools like the Technology Access Foundation (TAF) Academy and Federal Way Public Academy are a lot like charter schools.
• McAnalloy: Completely against charter schools and vouchers. He would like the district to replicate Federal Way Public Academy elsewhere in the city and treat it like the shining star in the district.
• Gregory: Opposed to charter schools because they are not supervised by elected officials, and because public money is for public schools. Federal Way Public Academy is a good example of a public-private partnership.
• Wells: It’s about what’s best for students, and if a charter school is what it takes to maximize a student’s potential, then he supports it.
Q: How will you engage parents and the community?
• McAnalloy: Programs like PTA and Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) are ways to engage parents. It’s about helping them understand where they fit.
• Gregory: What draws parents to the school setting is their children. Creating learning opportunities and transparency will engage more parents, teachers and students.
• Wells: He brings the single parent perspective and would bring forums out to the community to engage them. The district tends to sit in a silo and voices aren’t heard.
• Barney: The district’s community partnership office and liaisons are a way to get out there and listen to the community.
(Pictured: Medgar Wells and Carol Gregory at the Oct. 23 candidates forum)
One question asked candidates if they would resign from the board if facing multiple felony theft charges like current board member Tony Moore. Barney said Moore is innocent until proven guilty, and if Barney was in the same situation and knew he was innocent, he probably wouldn’t step down. McAnalloy said Moore could have saved face for the district by resigning, but instead has taken the focus off the children. Gregory said she was concerned about whether Moore would have the time to serve while juggling his legal issues. Wells said, simply, that he would resign.
Q: Teachers union?
Gregory was asked about her history with the Washington Education Association and how that would affect her as a school board member. She said teachers should have advocates, but that subpar teachers do not belong in classrooms. The other candidates echoed those sentiments as far as ensuring that bad teachers don’t get a pass. In response to the question, McAnalloy added that there is a “complete disconnect” between the board, superintendent and building administrators, and that disconnection needs to be fixed.
• Barney: When asked what he learned on a recent controversial three-week board trip to Europe, Barney did not answer the question. Travels for the Global Learning Initiative have made contacts that benefit the district, such as an opportunity to participate in a Global Partnership Program. He noted his longtime involvement in areas such as the PTA and elementary track and field program.
• McAnalloy: He says career and technical education (CTE) as well as extracurricular activities and auto mechanics are programs that keep more students engaged. These programs meet more needs for students in the district. Also key is engaging fifth- and eighth-graders to prepare them for the next levels. McAnalloy stressed his willingness to “take care of the whole child” at every grade level.
• Gregory: She has chaired large boards and knows the role of a board, she said. Her experience will help her develop strategies and communicate with the public, and also make sound decisions on how the district uses its resources. She would focus on spending money for teacher resources in the classrooms.
• Wells: He said his lifelong career in education is his strength. The district should focus on early education. He said one can look at students in their younger years and tell if they will graduate. He will not be a rubber stamp for the superintendent, he said.
Contact the candidates
• Ed Barney: email@example.com
• Geoffery McAnalloy: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Carol Gregory: email@example.com
• Medgar Wells: firstname.lastname@example.org