Today was the first day for Eugene 4J School Board candidates to officially file. We caught up with some of those running to ask their stance on education.
Among them was Evangelina Sundgrenz, who’s currently on the budget committee. She and a group of supporters were ready when the Lane County Board of Elections opened its doors for the day.
After filing her paperwork for School District Position # 6, Sundgrenz shared her top campaign issue…education funding…which many districts hope will be preserved as the legislature mulls over the latest state budget.
“How do we prioritize and how do we get the resources that we need for the students already in our district, so that we can give them the opportunity to thrive, opportunity for choices and options, (and) graduate with all of that so they can become thriving members of our community, our state, and our nation?”
Sundgrenz says she wants to be an advocate for public schools and public school families, including those from multilingual households. She’d also like to find ways to work with the business community to help find ways to further support schools.
Sundgrenz works in marketing, and lives with her husband and daughter in the Eugene area.
Among those who also declared their bid was Mary Leighton, who’s running for Position # 3.
Leighton served as the Network Charter School’s Executive Director from 2006 to 2013. She says she has 45 years of professional experience with schools and research to share with the board.
“My particular interests are equity,” she tells KLCC.
“Making sure every kid has what the kid needs, to get through school successfully.
“Collaboration, making the best use of community resources that we all share.
“And career and technical education, helping kids see all the ways there are to participate in the community and its economic life.”
Leighton says she’s also an advocate for early childhood education, and will lobby hard for what schools need.
Another candidate seeking Position #3 is Jerry Rosiek. He's a University of Oregon education professor, a former high school math and science teacher, and founder of Eugene Parents Concerned about Standardized Testing.
Rosiek says he’s concerned for Eugene’s schools based on what he’s seeing in Washington…namely President Trump’s controversial pick for education secretary.
“Betsy DeVos is a harbinger I think, of a coming assault on public education," he tells KLCC. "And I think we need people in positions of educational leadership, and on the Eugene 4J school board, who are ready to push back against federal and state overreach into local control of schools. And that’s what I intend to do if I’m elected.”
Rosiek adds he’d push for more teacher training, increased enrichment activities for students, and revisit the role of standardized testing.
Rosiek is a Stanford graduate with a ten-year old daughter in the 4J system.
And then there’s the Eugene businesswoman who’s seeking a third term for Position #2.
Anne Marie Levis is President of Funk/Levis Associates, a marketing firm. She says she’d like to continue to serve schools and students as the nation continues its transition to the Trump administration.
Levis says she’s troubled by recent developments, including the president’s nomination of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary.
“I think that sends really scary things for all public education,” says Levis.
“I’m also looking at some of the immigrant bans, the Muslim ban, really bothers me. And so our school district is looking at what we can do to put forward a more positive front and protect people who are here and trying to get an education.”
Levis says in her time as a board member, she’s helped get bonds passed to build the new Howard Elementary and Roosevelt Middle schools. She's also proud of when she and other board members hired superintendent Dr. Gustavo Balderas in 2015. She has two sons enrolled in 4J.
4J board elections will be May 16th.