Rita Luce and Melissa Determan Beard are the better candidates for two contested seats on the Tumwater school board in the Nov. 7 election.
Luce, a three-term incumbent, is challenged by Barry Olson, a retired school teacher who could bring valuable classroom perspective to curriculum and discussions of staff needs.
Determan Beard, an appointee last year who has children in Tumwater schools, is challenged by Tumwater parent Ryan Tebow, who teaches science in a school outside the district.
In a third race for board position 5, incumbent Janine Ward is running unopposed.
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Position 1: LUCE
Rita Luce’s experience in the district goes back almost 40 years, and she gets enthusiastic talking about recent community partnerships that help put community liaisons in many schools. These people link students and families with outside services including counseling; the district also has schoolhouse pantries that distribute donated food and clothing to kids in need.
Tumwater schools also worked with the Housing Authority of Thurston County on a this year project that earmarked subsidized housing for a handful of homeless families and their kids.
Barry Olson is thoughtful, and his wealth of teaching experience is a strong argument in his favor. He grew up in a small northeast Montana town where his parents taught school, and he carried on the family tradition in Colorado and Idaho, rural Eastern Washington and locally the past few years at Black Hills High School.
The rival candidates favor more vocational training options for students less inclined to attend college. They grasp Tumwater’s challenges as a new state funding model approved by the Legislature is phased in.
The Tumwater Education Association put out feelers for candidates this year, and the union endorsed Olson because of his direct classroom experience, TEA president Tim Voie said. He added that the endorsement was not a criticism of Luce.
Position 4: DETERMAN BEARD
Melissa Determan Beard is a Tumwater native who graduated from Stanford and later earned a doctorate in education. She brings passion for education and strongly supports the community partnerships that are getting extra help to students.
Determan Beard works for the state Office of Financial Management. She wants to see better district engagement with students and better communication. She said she favors more equal opportunities for kids and wants to get extra resources to challenged students. Since joining the board she said she has tried to bring data into its discussions.
Challenger Ryan Tebow grew up in Shelton, earned a degree at The Evergreen State College, has a master’s in teaching degree and teaches STEM subjects. He was unable to attend an editorial board meeting, which are held mornings. But Tebow’s voter pamphlet statement says he would be “a progressive advocate.” He expressed concern about using standardized tests scores to judge either student or school success.
The TEA endorsed both Determan Beard and Tebow.
Overall, we favor Determan Beard who was appointed from 11 applicants in December. She is promising, accessible and deserves time to make a difference.