Assembled by Stuart Jenner

There are two seats in the Highline School District board of directors with three candidates for each position running in the Aug. 6, 2019 primary.

All residents of Highline can vote for any school board seat in any election, there ís no district or zone restriction for voters. The King County Elections website has official voter guide statements and contact information for each of the candidates.

The original questions:

  1. Overall, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 as top, how transparent do you think the Highline School District is? If you’re elected, what would you do to improve this transparency?
  2. Screen time for students seems to be increasing, with many books and assignments done on a computer or Chromebook. What would your sources be to check how much screen time is appropriate for children and whether learning on screens is effective? Do you have a limit of time per day, per week, or per subject you would prefer?
  3. As a part of moving sixth grade to middle school, all sixth grade students will only be able to take a semester of art or music during the school day. They will not be able to take a full year. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea? Why?Do you think this type of decision is something that only the superintendent and staff should determine, or should the school board also discuss this and provide advice during an open school board meeting?
  4. Highline school board meetings are not broadcast on TV, on the internet and are also not recorded in audio that is placed on the district web site. Do you agree or disagree with these decisions? If you disagree, what would you like to have happen?

Here are the responses for position 1 with candidates listed in the same order as on the King County Elections Voter Guide:

Position 5:

Faizah Bradford

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bradford submitted her responses to this questionnaire late, on Aug. 2, 2019:

Overall, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 as top, how transparent do you think the Highline School District is? If you’re elected, what would you do to improve this transparency?

Transparency is a high priority for the school board. We conduct all our business in public meetings, and we place a high value on keeping families and our community informed. In quarterly retreats with senior staff, we dig into student data and have the opportunity to ask tough questions. We hold these on Saturday mornings, when community members may be better able to attend. The public is always welcome.

Screen time for students seems to be increasing, with many books and assignments done on a computer or Chromebook. What would your sources be to check how much screen time is appropriate for children and whether learning on screens is effective? Do you have a limit of time per day, per week, or per subject you would prefer?

The careers that students are being prepared for will all involve some type of technology, so it is the responsibility of the district/schools to teach students how to learn and interact with screens. That said,my knowledge as both, a parent and a board member, is that the vast majority of our students’ learningtime is not on screens—it is direct instruction from the teacher, using books, hand-on learning and collaborating with classmates. It is important to note that although students are in school a significant chunk of their day, the other 18 hours they are with their families, and the amount of screen time theyhave during those hours is their families’ decision.

It is crucial that we teach students to use technology responsibly, and that is why one of our big strategic goals is digital and media literacy. Students need to learn how to be safe online and how to discriminate between well-founded information and propaganda. This has never been more important than today.

As a part of moving sixth grade to middle school, all sixth grade students will only be able to take a semester of art or music during the school day. They will not be able to take a full year. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea? Why? Do you think this type of decision is something that only the superintendent and staff should determine, or should the school board also discuss this and provide advice during an open school board meeting?

Given state subject-area requirements and our community’s goals for our students – including the goal for all students to graduate bilingual and biliterate – it is very difficult to fit everything into a six-period day. That is one reason we are going to a trimester system in our high schools—to give students more opportunities to take arts and other courses that explore their interests as well as advanced academic coursework.

The school board places a high value on music and arts education. We have had the awesome opportunity to learn from public board testimony; and with the district, have engaged community partners to advise us on arts programming to ensure that every student who wants to participate in band has access to a free instrument.

In sixth grade, students will have to take one semester of their music instruction at zero or 7th period (before or after school). This is one semester out of their three years in middle school. This is a compromise to ensure students get all the other instruction they need in middle school.

Highline school board meetings are not broadcast on TV, on the internet and are also not recorded in audio that is placed on the district web site. Do you agree or disagree with these decisions? If you disagree, what would you like to have happen?

Any member of the public can get audio recordings of board meetings by requesting them. Posting audio and video recordings to our website is problematic because they do not comply with federal law on accessibility for people with visual disabilities. Electronic transcription is not very reliable, and human transcription is expensive.

If there is a demand from the community for transcription or live streaming of board meetings, the technology certainly exists. Both come with expenses, and as always, the board has the responsibility to prioritize spending based on what the community wants and our students need.

For more information about what I stand for, please check out my campaign statement in the voter guide and my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/votefaizahbradford

Vince Koester

Campaign website with contact info: www.VinceKoester.com

Q: Overall, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 as top, how transparent do you think the Highline School District is? If you’re elected, what would you do to improve this transparency?

A: By and large, the Highline School District has put into place rules and protocols to ensure transparency and gives the public the expectation that each person will be heard and treated with respect and civility. The public has access to board minutes and can submit their questions online on the Highline School website to ensure that each board member receives their emails accordingly. Having meetings aired on television however would assist in enhancing transparency even further. Therefore, I’d give the Highline District a 7 rating as it relates to transparency, leaving room for improvement in televising meetings. See question 4 for more details.

Q: Screen time for students seems to be increasing, with many books and assignments done on a computer or Chromebook. What would your sources be to check how much screen time is appropriate for children and whether learning on screens is effective? Do you have a limit of time per day, per week, or per subject you would prefer?

A: In the article, “Is Screen Time Altering the Brains of Children?” written by Shawn Radcliffe, Healthline reported: Early results from a large study suggest that screen time may impact children’s brains and learning. Studies like this one has parents and teachers alike worrying about how much screen time is too much. Once kids graduate from high school many children will go on to have careers that require eight or more hours of screen time a day. So how much is too much screen time required for learning? At this point, the study cited by Radcliffe reflects that as little as two hours can lead to lower scores on thinking and language tests. As I see things, it is imperative that schools and boards be ever vigilant to valid studies that help guide recommendations as it relates to educational opportunities that require screen time and seek to balance curriculum that is based in science.

Q: As a part of moving sixth grade to middle school, all sixth grade students will only be able to take a semester of art or music during the school day. They will not be able to take a full year. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea? Why?

A: In my view, music and art are necessities in a child’s life. I’ve spent years and years ensuring that children have access to musical instruments. Why? Because playing an instrument has such a powerful impact on a child’s life. I believe art does the same thing. I have a passion for music. I have helped raise thousands of dollars through the Rotary Club for the Music for Life program, helping procure instruments. I know that music is a very important part of kidsí lives. If theyíre involved with music (or art), their energies are spent on something good. A sense of accomplishment is fairly easily attained: just a quick lesson or two can have them producing sounds. That immediate ability can excite them to keep going. In the Wenatchee School District, 70% of students are involved in some kind of music program whether itís a mariachi band or the orchestra. Arts programs are often cut as nonessential; I feel they are essential.

Q: Do you think this type of decision is something that only the superintendent and staff should determine, or should the school board also discuss this and provide advice during an open school board meeting?

A: Including, involving and empowering parents on the topic of music and art is essential. The board would be wise to include them in this very important decision.

Q: Highline school board meetings are not broadcast on TV, on the internet and are also not recorded in audio that is placed on the district web site. Do you agree or disagree with these decisions?

A: It is essential that the board help to empower parents by making board meetings available via broadcast, either TV or Facebook Live or audio files. Parents often work or are home cooking dinner and helping children with their homework during board meeting hours, so giving parents m an on demand option to view the boardís discussion would not only help a busy family immensely, it should be compulsory in this day and age.

Jeanette Burrage

Campaign website with contact info: www.Burrageforschoolboard.info

Q: Overall, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 as top, how transparent do you think the Highline School District is?

A: 4.

Q: If you’re elected, what would you do to improve this transparency?

A: Video of School Board Meetings. YouTube has a nominal cost and could easily provide a way for every parent to watch the meetings. The Board could even provide an option for real-time feedback as well as questions from parents should we choose.

Also, Des Moines Elementary seems to be doing well interacting with parents. I would like to see them teach their methods to other principals and staff.

Check into cost of broadcasting on TV.

Q: Screen time for students seems to be increasing, with many books and assignments done on a computer or Chromebook. What would your sources be to check how much screen time is appropriate for children and whether learning on screens is effective? Do you have a limit of time per day, per week, or per subject you would prefer?

A: Teachers would be the best to evaluate screen time for each individual student, unless there are reasons I am not aware to limit screen time use. I am not aware of any studies on this, but would be happy to review them if available. I do not yet have a limit of time preferred for computer assignments, but if there are limits they would likely be different for different age groups.

Q: As a part of moving sixth grade to middle school, all sixth grade students will only be able to take a semester of art or music during the school day. They will not be able to take a full year. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea? Why?

A: I think this is a bad idea. Especially for music, an all year program is preferable so students do not lose the progress they have made and so they are held accountable for practicing their instruments.

Q: Do you think this type of decision is something that only the superintendent and staff should determine, or should the school board also discuss this and provide advice during an open school board meeting?

A: The School Board should discuss this policy in an open meeting. Parents and others should be allowed to comment.

Q: Highline school board meetings are not broadcast on TV, on the internet and are also not recorded in audio that is placed on the district web site. Do you agree or disagree with these decisions?

A: I disagree with these decisions.

Q: If you disagree, what would you like to have happen?

A: I think the School Board meetings should at least be videotaped. I would like to see them broadcast on TV or YouTube.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Highline Public Schools asked us to include the following clarification:

“Audio recordings of school board meetings are available to the public. Please visit this webpage for more information. Audio recordings are not posted on the district website because they are not compliant with federal accessibility requirements. Highline Public Schools is in the process of updating its website to ensure it is fully accessible to users with disabilities.”