EAST WENATCHEE — A physical therapist, a land surveyor and a public information officer are facing off in the Aug. 6 primary election for Eastmont School Board Position 5.
The at-large post, open to anyone living within Eastmont School District boundaries, has been held by Steve Piccirillo since 2011. He announced in February he would not seek re-election this fall, at the end of his current four-year term.
“It’s someone else’s turn,” he said at the time. “There’s an energetic, passionate person out there who will do a great job.”
Three candidates rose to the challenge.
Meaghan Vibbert, public information officer for Douglas County PUD, announced her intention to run April 22 with a Facebook post and was the first to file May 13, the opening day of the filing period. By the end of the week, two more candidates had thrown their hats into the ring — Peter Smith, a land surveyor for the state Department of Transportation, and Lyle McClune, a physical therapist who works for Biosports — prompting a primary election runoff.
The top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 5 general election, which also will include contested races for two other Eastmont positions, making three spots on the five-person board up for grabs. Voting starts July 19.
Below are the candidate responses to questions posed by The Wenatchee World:
Wenatchee World: Why are you interested in serving on the school board and what skills do you bring to the table?
Lyle McClune: When I was first married, I met a school board member who shared with me how, because of his position, he was able to positively influence his community and school district. He showed me a new high school stadium he helped to get funding for and built. He explained the benefit the stadium brought to his community and what it meant to him to be a part of it. Because of that experience, I decided I would someday run for school board in my own community.
I have also encouraged my children to be a part of their school communities. They have been heavily involved in student government, athletics and the arts, and each one served as ASB president at Eastmont High School.
Since arriving here in 2004, I have also regularly volunteered at Eastmont School District schools. As I contemplated my candidacy, I could hear my own voice telling my children to “get involved.” The time has come for me to do more than volunteer. I am ready to get involved and help lead Eastmont School District to a great future.
Peter Smith: I believe in public service and feel that I have a unique background that would be beneficial in tackling the challenges ahead of our district.
Meaghan Vibbert: When Board Member Chris Gibbs announced he was not running for office again to allow new members to learn under our excellent Superintendent Garn Christensen, it made me realize this was a perfect time for me to get involved with the school board. I have always enjoyed volunteering in the community. With two children attending Eastmont schools this was an opportunity to positively influence their educational pursuits and model service to them in an area directly impacting their lives.
I bring a positive, collaborative spirit to the table. As one of five board members, you need to bring your ideas and an open mind to others suggestions. I am not an education system expert. But I commit to listen, learn and make decisions based on what’s best for our youth and being accountable to our community.
WW: What do see as the district’s greatest educational challenge and how would you address it?
McClune: I believe the greatest educational challenge facing our school district and really every school district, is making sure the education our children receive is valid, relevant, and useful. We must set the conditions for our students to excel so they develop the knowledge, skills, experience, creativity and independence necessary to meet the challenges a rapidly changing future will bring.
Smith: Accountability, starting at the board level and all the way to the parents.
We have a duty to prepare and educate the next generation but that is not the sole responsibility of the school system. Things outside the classroom have a huge impact on success in school. Whether it is enough food, adequate clothing, a safe place to sleep or parental involvement, it is all plays a part.
Vibbert: Challenge seems like a negative obstacle. There are always areas for improvement, but I see Eastmont doing things right. I see teachers making real connections with their students. I see principals at recess and in the halls smiling and joking with kids. I see an open invitation to law enforcement for a free lunch as a way to get to know our buildings and have positive interactions with our youth. I see administration hand delivering paychecks and newsletters each month to touch base with bus drivers and paraprofessionals. I see parents engaging through celebrations of learning, orientations, music programs, STEM competitions, conferences, emails, apps and social media. With those relationships built, any “educational challenge” will be viewed as another opportunity to work together for the betterment of our schools and ultimately our children.
WW: If elected, what are your top objectives in the next four years?
McClune: First, I believe the Eastmont School District can improve, and some things may need to be changed, but I know I can learn a great deal by listening to the outstanding educators and administrators who have the daily responsibility to teach our children.
Second, I plan to advocate for a curriculum and the educational facilities necessary to ensure our children are qualified for the future and that the education they receive prepares them for success.
Third, I would like to help identify the facilities within our district that require updating or remodeling and develop a long-term plan to prioritize and fund those that are in greatest need.
Fourth, I want to provide better transportation for students involved in athletics and other extracurricular activities. Currently, students ride school buses to and from extracurricular activities that make it difficult for them to study or do homework because of poor lighting, cramped seating, etc. This is challenging for students who come home late at night and need to prepare for classes or tests the next day. Improving the transportation for our students will help them succeed in their academics, as well as their extracurricular activities.
Smith: Safety, for our students and staff. Continue with the district’s security/safety improvements. Renew the discussion on implementing on-site tactical response.
Capital Improvements. The district has a robust construction plan. I want to help ensure successful delivery on each component, on time and on budget. We taxpayers deserve that.
Superintendent. Our district will be filling Dr. Christensen’s position within this term.
Vibbert: Retain and recruit top quality staff.
Build upon the safety measures in place to protect our most valuable assets.
Play a small role in Eastmont’s mission of graduating all students and maximizing their skills for future opportunities.