For the first time in nearly four years, the Port Townsend School District has three positions up for election this fall as Washington comes to grips with a teacher shortage, lingering controversy over the state’s response to a funding lawsuit and the endless quest for reform.
While Nathanael O’Hara, the incumbent for the at-large Director District 5 position, plans to run for re-election, Laura Tucker and Keith White, the incumbents for the Director District 2 and 3 positions, respectively, do not intend to file for re-election.
Tucker expressed her enjoyment of the experiences she’s had on the board, and her belief that she’s been part of a great leadership team.
“We have a very strong board, who have the needs of the students and staff paramount in all their decisions and plans,” Tucker said.
But as her work demands have increased, Tucker has decided to step aside, so a new person can offer more time than she believes she’ll be able to commit in the future, given her extremely busy professional life.
“I am still working full time, I just published a book on how to teach climate change, and I was brought in on a grant from Gov. Inslee to create climate change curriculum, leaving me overwhelmed,” Tucker said. “As much as I would love to continue on the board, unless we create 36-hour days or I quit sleeping, I simply don’t have the time.”
During the board’s April 4 meeting, Connie Welch, the chairwoman currently seated in the Director District 1 position, spoke on behalf of White, passing on his gratitude to the district and his fellow board members. According to Welch, White feels the district has strong leadership in the board, whom he credited with accomplishments over the past few years.
However, in spite of White himself telling The Leader that his nearly five years on the board have been “profoundly fulfilling and enjoyable,” he nonetheless confirmed Welsh’s report that his plans for international travel played heavily in his decision to step down.
“He feels he will be out of the area for significant parts of the school year, and would like to step aside for someone who is able to be present more frequently that he will be,” Welch said at the April 4 meeting.
White added later, “I hope others will consider service on the school board, and that one will be elected in the fall to experience the joy I have felt, in helping to provide the highest quality education possible for students in the Port Townsend School District.”
“We are very fortunate to have committed and thoughtful school board members who work collaboratively to make decisions in the best interests of all students,” Polm said.
“Directors White and Tucker have been a big part of providing a strong and focused vision for our district. I am thankful for their service and dedication to our students during their terms.”
Polm confirmed that the last time there were three seats in a Port Townsend School Board election would have been November of 2015.
“Since the school board director positions are all four-year terms, the five positions are offset, to have elections every two years,” Polm said.
Welch and Jennifer James-Wilson, the vice-chairwoman currently seated in the at-large Director Position 4 position, were both re-elected in November 2017, so their terms are set to expire in November 2021.
The Director District positions were recently redistricted, to allow for three geographic districts and two at-large districts.
District 2 includes the North Beach neighborhood, down to the northern section of Cape George Road, while District 3 includes the Cape George, Kala Point and Discovery Bay neighborhoods.
Any eligible voter in the Port Townsend School District may file for an open at-large position.
A complete map and descriptions of these Director Districts can be found on the school district’s website.
The filing period is May 13-17 for anyone interested in running for election this fall.