Siuslaw News Voter Guide — Siuslaw School District #97J


May 18, 2021, Special Election

This Siuslaw News Voter Guide includes information on each of the races in the May 18 Special Election. This guide provides a description of the boards and the names of those running for positions on western Lane County’s boards and commissions.

While many of the candidates are running unopposed, three districts have contested races. The Siuslaw News invited the candidates from these three — Lane Community College Board of Education, Lane Education Service District Board of Directors and the Siuslaw School District Board of Directors — to answer questions and give more information. This is an opportunity for voters to read about the backgrounds and beliefs of people who will shape the community for the next four years.

Voters in Lane County will begin to receive their ballots this week. Completed ballots can then be mailed to Lane County Elections, 275 W 10th Ave., Eugene OR 97401, or dropped off at the Lane County Elections official ballot drop box at the Florence Municipal Court, 900 Greenwood St. in Florence, by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, May 18.

Information included in this guide came from lanecounty.org/elections and the candidates and their campaigns. Our thanks to the candidates who provided this information to readers in the Siuslaw region.

This guide will be available to view at TheSiuslawNews.com.

 

Disclaimer: Siuslaw News is not endorsing any candidate or measure included in its election coverage. Any views or opinions stated are exclusively those of the individuals themselves. Siuslaw News cannot be held responsible for the accuracy or reliability of information submitted by the individuals.

 

Siuslaw

 

Siuslaw School District has a seven-member board of directors, with each position serving a four-year term.

The Siuslaw School Board has three seats open for this election, positions 2, 4 and 6. Position 2 is held by incumbent John Barnett, who is running unopposed to remain in his seat. Position 4 has two candidates, Brian Lacouture and Maureen Miltenberger. Position 6 has three candidates, Jesse Chapman, Larry Martindale and Kady Sneddon. Learn more at www.siuslaw.k12.or.us.

 

Candidates were asked to provide brief bios and answer the following questions:

  1. What would you identify as the opportunities and limitations of this position? 
  2. If elected, what do you see as your most important objectives for the upcoming term?
  3. What do you anticipate being the biggest challenges? 
  4. What do you identify as unique concerns to your district and how would you address those issues?

 

— Lacouture —

Brian Lacouture and his wife arrived in Florence with a small pickup-load of belongings nearly 20 years ago, and it didn’t take long to call Florence “home.” They now have four wonderful kids.

After graduating high school in Las Vegas, Nev., in 1997, Lacouture chose to serve a two-year church mission to the Dominican Republic, where he was able to become fluent in Spanish and learned to love the people and culture.

I am a local general contractor. I enjoy taking advantage of service opportunities within the community. There is still a great deal of pride seeing the different projects around town that I was able to assist with. Working with the youth in our town through cub scouts ,Boy Scouts, youth groups, and coaching was a fantastic experience watching young men and women develop their talents and skills.

Florence is a fantastic place with fantastic people that my wife and I are grateful to have our family be a part of.

  1. The opportunities of course are to be able serve the youth in our town. Albeit behind the scenes, I hope to help in the steering of the future success of our youth.

The limitations as I see it now (not having previously been on a school board) are having to navigate the multiple outside agencies and regulations that “must” be adhered to while trying to make effective decisions on the local level for our particular kids.

  1. I would like to help curb the infiltration of dangerous curriculum into our schools

I believe the educational expectations of our youth are too low, and that raising them will better equip them for future success and achievement.

I am tired of our kids being used as pawns for political parties and corrupt agendas.

I want to assist in the process of having parents’ voices heard.

  1. Currently, from the outside looking in, what seems to be an insurmountable challenge is the effort to please everyone and everything. I do not envy those who are trying to make that happen nor do I really look forward to doing it, but I am more than willing to get my hands dirty to get the job done.
  2. Knowing that there are budgeting issues, hiring practices, facility concerns, state and federal guidelines and a multitude of other issues that will constantly arise, the largest concern that I see is that of and for the individual students. The loss of critical thinking skills is a travesty. I would like to steer back, even if it is a complete U-turn, to a more classical style of education. Showing our kids HOW to think not WHAT to think will lead them to greater future success and allow them to become leaders in our society to help balance and make right the world we live in. Math is hard — GOOD, let’s keep that bar high and help our kids clear it. History has really tragic errors and hard truths — GOOD, let’s learn from that not hide it. Science has become a political weapon — NOT GOOD, let’s get back to learning and seeing all the awesome wonders that this world has to offer.

Let’s show our kids the wealth of opportunities afforded them if they choose to participate.

 

— Miltenberger —

Maureen Miltenberger began her career as an educator teaching 6th grade in Yachats after graduating from OSU with a degree in elementary education. She has spent several years as a substitute teacher and tutor, as well as being the Homeless Children’s Liaison for the Molalla River School District.

She was the executive director of a community action agency in Idaho that oversaw several programs including Head Start, food banks and several other assistance programs. She also directed a self-sufficiency program in Oregon City that addressed issues such as physical and mental health, education and employment to help families move out of assisted government housing.

I feel that my career as an educator, administrator and advocate has prepared me to become a member of the Siuslaw School Board where I can work as a member of a team to provide a well-rounded education to all of our students, regardless of their background and learning ability.

  1. The opportunities provided to a member of a school board are endless. We become advocates for each of our students. We use our expertise to follow our district’s mission and to become aware of current policies and regulations. We also implement new policies to improve our schools.

Even though board members oversee the larger responsibility of the operation of the district, a member is also able to become involved with projects where their interests and expertise are best utilized.

I am excited about using the advanced technology that will soon be available to our entire district as a way expand distance learning as a valuable continuing asset in our district.

The limitations are working within existing guidelines and budgets but still have the ability to use our resources in the best possible way to provide for all of our students while always keeping an eye on long-term goals for our district’s future.

  1. One of the most important objectives is to increase graduation rates in our district. The Student Success Act is a great asset to implement achieving this objective. We need to continue to work with Lane ESD and LCC to assure that our students receive the best support possible so they can achieve their goals in the academic world or in technology, the arts and wherever they choose their futures to be.

Another objective is to make sure that all of the negative effects on education caused by the pandemic are addressed by the board and the district.

  1. One of the biggest challenges I see for the next few years is helping our students deal with the long-term effects of the pandemic. Students are currently being transitioned back into the classroom, getting vaccinated and seeing friends and family members they haven’t been able to see for months. What we may not be able to see immediately is the longer-term impact that the pandemic may have had on many of our students.

Students have been without the support systems they had before the pandemic, whether that is friends, athletics, art, music or just being able to leave the house for a period of time. Also many of our students may have lost loved ones or know of someone who has.

I see the job of board members, staff and parents as being aware that these issues may be having a profound effect on how well students advance in their remaining years in our district. We need to have additional counseling and a wide choice of subjects available to each of our students, so as they return to the classroom they are able to immerse themselves in the best course possible for them.

  1. One of the issues that I was made aware of when I was substitute teaching in our district several years ago was the condition of the buildings in which our students are spending a significant amount of time. A recent tour of the high school has shown me that the situation is worsening with each school year. I am aware that the Siuslaw Facilities Committee is currently working on a plan to address these issues in all of our schools. If elected, I would like to become a member of the committee so that I can directly assist in making all of our schools seismically safe, with monitored entrances and with the ability to produce nutritional, hot meals on-site at each school. I have had previous experience with the redesigning and renovation of a building for a public agency. I would like to repeat the joy I experienced is seeing that to fruition again in completing projects that provide all of our students with the best environment to learn in.

 

— Chapman —

As a Siuslaw High graduate and a native resident, it is Jesse Chapman’s deepest desire to return back to his community what they have invested into his life.

So, after becoming a Vietnam-era Veteran and majoring in theology at Eugene Bible College, much gratitude is in order for the education received at these institutions of learning.

However, since those days, our education system has been hijacked by a radical left-wing element that promotes an anti-Christ socialist agenda as orchestrated by the teachers’ unions. As a result, children have become their hostages, morals have become non-essential, and parents have become intimidated. Admittedly, not all educators agree with their union leaders, but have also found themselves entrapped by an oppressive, self-serving government bureaucracy.

As a board member, I plan on doing something about it.

I am endorsed by Oregon Right to Life.

  1. Re-open the debate over the need for the re-institution of the freedom to pray that was stripped away in the fall of 1962. We have the opportunity to assist in a new course correction for the schools starting with fundamental freedoms and values.
  2. Removing the current oppression of schools and curricula by considering creative alternatives. There are about 127 Charter Schools in Oregon, with about 37,000 students, and growing. Charter schools give parents and students choice.
  3. Getting people to think outside the box.
  4. Kids dropping out of school at increasingly higher rates. But who can blame them? Kids are smart and they know when something is wrong in the neighborhood.

Biological boys can now compete against girls in sports; math is now a racist subject; and according to Critical Race Theory, if you’re born white you are automatically considered racist! More local control is the answer.

 

— Martindale —

Larry Martindale is a lifetime Oregonian. For 38 years, he served in elementary middle and high school as a teacher, educational consultant and administrator, with the last 28 years at the administrative level. For 13 of those years, he served here in the Siuslaw School District.

Most recently, Martindale served on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club of Western Lane County, serving the last three years as board president.

Martindale and his wife, Randy, have three grown children and two grandchildren. Larry enjoys hunting and fishing and is active in his church.

  1. In my recent work with the Boys and Girls Club, I know that our kids are struggling and I have solid ideas for how we can do better. We have the opportunity to raise the bar with leadership, oversight and strong partnerships with faculty, families and our community. We are limited and guided of course by rigorous state and federal guidelines, but within that framework, we must start looking at what we CAN do instead of what we cannot and fully utilize any local control that still remains.

Keeping our kids the focus, we can be bold and innovative. Good enough isn’t good enough. Our kids deserve our best.

  1. My role as a board member will be to provide leadership and oversight to educate and prepare students for success. Family, Faculty and Facilities are vital components to achieve this objective.

Family: Parents and family units must have a place at the table for open conversations about educational goals and should be respected and listened to for their perspectives.

Faculty: Our faculty is the key ingredient for the magic that can happen in our schools. High quality academic programs are essential to prepare all students for a global society and our faculty is key to this outcome.

Facilities: Students, staff and the public need safe schools that also meet educational needs with cutting edge technology. Creative, common sense problem-solving is essential and we should explore immediate solutions to things like our high school heating and cooling issues and safe, friendly entry points at our schools, and also long-term facility needs.

  1. The district’s greatest challenge will be to create a school culture that focuses on academic excellence and preparing our kids for lifetime success, especially in this post-COVID environment. Too many of our students are falling behind and giving up on school.

With the exception of reading/writing at the high school, the Oregon test scores for elementary, middle and high school are in the bottom 50%. Students are passed from one grade to the next without academic skills to be successful at the next grade level. It is difficult to find placements for students who are one to three years behind. As a board member, I can provide leadership and oversight in solving this issue. The administration, staff and community can work together to find solutions. One of my objectives will be to ensure that all students be at grade level in reading, writing and mathematics before they exit 5th grade.

4.Emerging from COVID, we are embarking on a new era for Siuslaw schools. When you look at buying a home via Zillow, our Siuslaw school rankings are 3/10 for elementary and middle and 5/10 for high school. Educational and lifetime success of our students is all of our goal but too often we operate as if we are adversaries; we fear transparency and input is not welcome. Staff, administration, families and our community need to link arms to help our kids achieve.

We must be willing to dig deep and identify our strengths and weaknesses, then we can determine our priorities and ensure those priorities get priority resources. For example, we have a tremendously talented and generous community who we can engage for vocational, trades and professional experiences and for feedback on what we offer students, and how to ready them for their next tier of education or employment.

 

— Sneddon —

Kady Sneddon is a local business owner.

It is our responsibility to bring our kids through this pandemic year with strength, vision, accountability and a plan. 

When I graduated from Siuslaw High School, the times were different, but the dedication to our serving students and providing high quality education hasn’t changed. I will support policies that allow schools to respond to their challenges creatively and collaboratively across the district.

As a small business owner enduring the pandemic, I’m experienced in managing budgets and staff, making tough decisions, and problem-solving with other business leaders and stakeholders to find solutions under significant constraint. I am a collaborative, calm and collected person and I welcome the challenge of making sure that everyone’s voices are heard and that we all have a chance to work together for a better future.

Our priorities must include:

  • Providing sound fiscal oversight to ensure tax dollars are spent correctly and effectively.
  • Working with our community to establish access to quality childcare
  • Working with the superintendent and statewide leaders to understand the impacts and education gaps stemming from COVID-19.
  • Establishing high quality CTE opportunities and STEM curriculum.
  • Addressing technological inequalities for educators and students.
  • Giving students, families, teachers and staff a voice.

As a mother to a first grader, I see an unfortunate lack of representation on the Board of Directors from both women and parents of school-aged children. Equal representation is paramount for a bright future and the health of our school district.

I would love to have your support and your vote this May!

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