Voter’s Guide: Hillsboro School Board Position 6
|Funding||Supports the bond; would like to see how the the school district can be run more efficiently.||Would have preferred a higher bond; sees a future operating levy as essential.||Supports the bond and a future levy; working with Janeen Sollman on additional funding from the state|
|Technology in Schools||Balance technology and teaching||Use technology to increase teacher capacity||Provide access to prepare students for college & career|
|Contraceptives at school-based health clinics||Undecided; wants more community input||Undecided; wants more community input||Supports providing contraceptives in school-based health clinics|
|Increasing the Graduation Rate||Student Mentors||Academic Coaching for student athletes; focus on attendance||Extracurricular activities; AVID; parental engagement|
A fourth candidate, Kevin Currin-Smith, did not respond to our request for an interview.
Flores spoke at length about funding. “Going to the state is going to be important, for us to advocate for the kids,” he said. He supports the proposed bond, but says he was, “very unimpressed” that it wasn’t on the May ballot. He believes it will be tougher to pass the bond in November. On the possibility of an operating levy, he said, “If we go for a levy, we’re going to have to work way smarter and harder to be able to accomplish that.” He suggests having students knock on doors and advocate for themselves. That “wouldn’t guarantee” that a levy would pass, though.
Flores also speaks of his work as the Board chair for Centro Cultural, discussing the difficulty in securing private funding. “It’s tough. Everyone wants money,” he said, but added that there are “definitely opportunities” for local companies to get more involved. “Either that, or start raising their [corporate] taxes,” he said. Flores also wants to look for ways to increase efficiency within the district. He says he would like to be on the budget committee. “People say it’s running efficiently, but at what level.”
Lyles wants to pursue additional funding at the state level. He supports the bond renewal, which will be on the November ballot, but says he would have preferred asking for additional money. Lyles would “absolutely” support a levy, as well. He knows that it can be difficult to raise taxes, but views the levy as essential. He notes that neighboring districts Beaverton and Forest Grove already have levies, and that most of the district’s budget is going toward teachers and retirement. He says the issue is that the district is not getting enough money from the district. To pass the operating levy, he says, “We have to do a good job of explaining the benefit of educating the future.”
Lyles also suggests looking into asking local businesses for in-kind donations, including building maintenance needs in excess of the current facilities department’s capacity, in exchange for a tax write-off. He summarized by saying
Spross also support the bond, proposing an operating levy, and pursuing additional funding from the state. She frequently works with state representative Janeen Sollman. “[Janeen] has been excellent at coming up with some great ideas,” she said.
Spross also supports partnering with the community, but knows that there are often limitations. This money can often be used only for purchases, not salaries, for example.
Technology in Schools
Spross says that, “Working for a high tech company, I know the value of technology in being career and college ready.” She says that many college classes, tests, and homework are online now, and that students need to have access to the technology to be successful. She adds that not every family has the economic ability to buy their students laptops. “We need to be able to provide them with that kind of access at school,” she said. She also believes that technology can help keep students invested in school.
Flores takes a nuanced position on technology. “I love technology and my kids do too… but with all of the technology we have, there’s a lot more trouble that comes through it,” he said. He shares an example of a child who was sexting. He says that technology is important to our society, however. “We need to keep up with other countries surrounding us,” he says, but we also need to find balance teaching without technology, as well.
Lyles has specific concerns about the technology the district is using currently. He finds ParentVUE, a system used to notify parents of their children’s grades and attendance, is lacking key features like push notifications. He thinks the district should ask, “How can we interact with parents in a way that they’re used to?” He also plans to meet with teachers to better understand their “pain points” He thinks the district might be able to find local volunteers to build this software.
On technology in the classroom, Lyles says, “Technology is a facilitator, to facilitate the learning of the students and to facilitate the teacher’s time to learn. An example could be entering grades.” He also says, however, that “sometimes technology is not the answer. There is a balance between process and technology.”
Contraceptives at School-Based Health Clinics
Lyles says that he is undecided on this issue and that it “would come back to community input.” He said that he would prefer that his daughter have a place to get information about contraceptives that isn’t from her friends if she was not comfortable talking to him or his wife, but knows that not all parents agree. “I can logically break it down, but also understand the other side,” he said.
Flores takes a similar position. “I’m still torn on that one,” he said. “I’m being neutral only because I haven’t heard enough from our community members.” He says that some Latino families oppose having contraceptives at the school-based health clinic because of their Catholic faith. “They’re more conservative,” he said. He adds that other Latino parents would like their children to have access to contraceptives. “I want to hear more from the community… after all, I’m only one person,” he said.
Spross supports reversing the decision made by the current school board and allowing the clinic, which is operated by Virginia Gracia, to provide contraceptives without parental notification. She mentions Oregon state law, which allows teens over 15 to make their own healthcare decisions without parental consent, and adds that students are already making their own “adult choice” to have sex. “We’re only the landlord. We don’t operate the health center,” she said. She adds that the doctors at the Virginia Garcia clinic do encourage students to talk to their parents.
Increasing the Graduation Rate
Flores would like to see successful students mentoring those who are struggling. “I want to come up with a buddy system where we can combine a person who is … who feels under-served or is failing with a person who is maybe taking AP classes.” He shares that his own daughter was so far ahead in her studies by her junior year that she did not need to attend school each day. “Why not get those kids involved in certain periods of their day with the students who are failing or the students who are struggling?” he asks.
Lyles wants to improve the systems for monitoring the grades of student athletes, supporting them along the way instead of “waiting until the end of the semester to see if they can play.” He plans to implement an academic coach for Hillsboro High School football players next year. He supports athletics and other extracurricular activities as “different pathways to the brain.” Lyles also referenced a conversation with the principal of Brown Middle School, who shared statistics about the importance of attendance. He would like to explore additional resources and tools for tracking and addressing student attendance. He says the district already has information about student attendance, but would like to investigate further. “Sometimes there’s data hidden in other data,” he said.
Spross is a proud “band mom” and believes that extracurricular activities are part of a “robust education.” For some students, she says, “that’s the only reason they go to school.” Communicating with parents is also important, she says. “A lot of it is going to be parental engagement,” she says. She adds that the district philosophy of at least one adult knowing every child by name, strength, and need, will support both family engagement and higher graduation rates. “If someone knows what the child needs,” she says, “we’ll find a mechanism to get them there.”
Spross is also a proponent of the Advancement by Individual Determination, or AVID program, designed to prepare students for college.