97j Candidates Pimlott and Wood speak

Incumbent Dianna Pimlott (left) will face Jason Wood for Position 7 on the Siuslaw School District 97j Board of Directors.

May 5, 2023 — There are four open positions on the Siuslaw School Board of Directors being contested on May 16. Each position has two candidates, an incumbent and a challenger.

Dianna Pimlott is the current director for Position 7. Her challenger is Jason Wood.

Dianna Pimlott

Occupation: Clinical Pharmacist, Pharmacy and Infusion Services Director, Patient Safety Officer, PeaceHealth Peace Harbor (1997-Present)

Occupational Background: Clinical Pharmacist, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Spokane, WA. Relief Pharmacist, Rite Aid, Florence, OR.

Educational Background: Simmons College of Boston, Masters, Healthcare Administration; Oregon State University, Bachelors, Pharmaceutical Science; Modesto Junior College, Associates, Biological Science

Prior Governmental Experience: Appointed by Governor: Two 4-year terms-Oregon Board of Pharmacy (June 2006 –June 2014) Siuslaw School District School Board (June 2019-Present)

Jason Wood

Occupation: Wood Vocal & Piano Studio, music teacher. Entertainer.

Occupational Background: The Imagination Machine, managing director. C.R.O.W., music director/ camp director, guest music teacher with Mapleton Schools. Atkins Research Group, office operations director

Educational Background: Norco High School, Diploma, Communications

Prior Governmental Experience: None

The Siuslaw News reached out to all eight candidates for Siuslaw School Board of Directors to ask about their views on some of the issues the community is asking us about. These questions cover just a few of the many important topics to consider before voting. More information on these and all candidates for the May 16 Special Election can be found at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/elections.  

The opinions of each of the candidates is their own. In the case of current Siuslaw School District Board Directors Armendariz, Lacouture, Pimlott and Sneddon, these opinions do not necessarily represent those of other Siuslaw School Board directors or the Siuslaw School Board as a governing body.

Do you agree with your fellow candidates who have stated that “these are troubling times for our educational system" and that there has been a recent "steady decline in our Siuslaw School District"? 

if yes - What are your reasons for believing so? How can the district improve? What are some positive things about the Siuslaw School District?

if no - Why do you disagree? Why do you believe there is a portion of the district community who sincerely believes these things?

Pimlott: These are troubling times for our educational system. The pandemic brought with it fear, anxiety, chronic stress, isolation, and it upended our kids’ education, schedules, and social lives. School staff are dealing with the impact of grief, disruptive behavior, and other emotional and behavioral health issues in the classroom, while simultaneously working to catch our students up to their academic grade levels. Staff shortages and other resource constraints are contributing to our school’s exhausted teams. We can better support our students, teachers, and staff by decreasing the size of our classrooms, providing transitional classroom instruction to catch kids up to their grade level, and developing our teachers and staff to better manage disruptive behavior. Repairing academic learning loss provides us with an opportunity to refocus on the basics- reading, writing, math, science, history, and the arts. We need to find excellence in the core curriculum needed by our kids to enter the job market and contribute to our growing community. Did you know that our community can now find and review our Siuslaw school’s curriculum on the district website? Transparency and the willingness by school administration and the board to partner with parents to create a cohesive learning environment is key to long lasting district improvements. We have work to do in this area. We are fortunate to have parents in our community who are interested in partnering with our schools to find solutions that benefit all children.

Wood: Yes, these are troubling times for our educational system as a whole. Everyone  seems to have different ideas on what is best for student success. Respectful communication is important if we want to see all of our students achieve scholastic success.

“Get politics out of school” is a familiar refrain. What does that mean to you?

Wood: I'm not exactly sure what that phrase specifically refers to. If that means voicing concerns, then they should be taken seriously and with equal weight of all issues brought before the board. Respectful and empathetic communication is key.

Pimlott: The intrusion of political issues and opinions impacts what our children are learning in the classroom, it influences policies and budgets, it creates disruption and noise that interferes with quality education, it creates stress and negative reactions, it incites fear that the other party will use our schools to push their ideology if given the opportunity. Parents feel that they no longer have a voice in the education provided to their children. Politics interferes with and disrupts the focus of our educational system. We need to remove partisan rhetoric and politics from our schools and return our focus to the students and their education.

How can the district get the least engaged student through the doors in the morning and at the same time help the most engaged student reach their highest potential?

Pimlott: Engaged students start with educators who are motivated to teach, encourage, and reward positive behavior and participation. We need smaller classrooms and more resources for our educational teams. We need support staff who are well trained and prepared to focus on those students who may need additional or focused help, and those who are the least engaged or disruptive. We need a variety of technical, artistic, and mechanical resources that stimulate and maintain student interest. Our teachers and staff are asking for resources including professional development, improved audio and video equipment, computers for all students, printers that are accessible without the requirement of teachers leaving the classroom for extended periods of time, assistant librarians and library resources, and an improved music program that offers strings instruction. As a district, we need to ensure our educational teams have what they need to help our kids be successful. In addition, district administration must employ open communication to learn from those who have recently left or will be leaving our district. We need to understand why outstanding educators, like Shannon Graham, have chosen to leave if we are to improve the experience of our existing educational teams and attract other energetic and motivated educators to our district.

Wood: There's no reason why we can't see success on all accounts. Not all students are dealing with the same things. Every student should be given equitable support. Again, listening and observing with the intent to problem solve and provide support will be one of many ways we provide all students with success.

Charter school in Florence… yes or no?

Wood: I will not get to vote on this. I trust the current board to make well informed decisions. 

Pimlott: I cannot comment directly about the current proposed charter school in Florence as it has not yet been presented to the school board.

However, because kids are truly my focus, I believe that families benefit by as many options as possible to educate their children. These are challenging times and our kids have varying needs. Education cannot be one size fits all.