Considering filing for the Highline Public Schools? It’s time to get on board

Two seats open

By Lindsay Peyton
Two positions on the board of Highline Public Schools are up for election in November.
Candidates may begin filing on Monday, May 15. The filing period closes at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 19. The deadline for candidates to withdraw is Monday, May 22 and the deadline to file as a write-in candidate is Friday, July 14.
The election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
The positions, each with four-year terms, will fill the seats currently held by board members Angelica Alvarez for district 2 and Joe Van for district 3.
Tyrone Curry Sr, district 1, Bernie Dorsey, district 4, and Michael Spear, district 5, will retain their positions.
Current board members Van and Alvarez have decided to run for reelection.
“I want to continue with what we’re working on,” Van said. “I have three kids in the system, so I have something invested. It’s not only my kids, but also their friends and my community.”

Alvarez, a Burien resident, had four children graduate from the district and currently has one grandchild enrolled.

She was originally elected in November 2009. Born and raised in San Luis, Arizona, to migrant field workers, Alvarez has a background in social services and education and believes having diverse voices on the board is important.

Van, a resident of SeaTac, is a 1995 graduate of Tyee High School and holds an AA in Administration of Justice from Highline Community College. He is currently employed as a supervisor at Owens & Minor medical supply distribution center and once served on the City of SeaTac Human Services Advisory Committee.

Both candidates say that state funding is a top issue for consideration.

“Fully funding education is one of the hottest topics,” Alvarez said. “And it especially affects our students of color. It’s one of the challenges not only for our district but one that our whole community is facing.”

Alvarez said another concern for the district is the lack of space in the schools for all of the families moving to the area.

Van said funding issues have a far-reaching ripple affect in the district. Another concern for him is the new “Core24” graduation requirements issued by the state of Washington.

The state mandated an increase in the minimum number of credits – from 20 to 24 – for seniors to receive their diplomas starting in 2021.

“We have to look at our schedules,” he said. “Right now, if a student fails one class, he can’t graduate. We’re looking at options to help them.”

Van wants to continue to build the programs he believes in – like the “P-3” system which provides early education opportunities for children in pre-kindergarten through third grade.

He and Alvarez are also strident supporters of the dual language program, since they are both bilingual themselves.

“It’s important to maintain our languages, so we’re able to speak to all of our families,” Alvarez said.

Both candidates also believe in the need to build community partnerships.

“I want to bring more people in,” Van said.

“We can’t do it alone,” Alvarez said. “We continue to look for not just partnerships but also apprenticeships.”

She also wants to work more on bringing up the graduation rates. “ ‘When you go to college’ should be the expectation,” she said. “It’s not ‘if’ you’re going to go, it’s ‘when.’ I want to teach that vocabulary in the district.”

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