Letters to the Editor

May 2015 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

Elks’ scholarship winners

Silverton High School senior William Ward received the Most Valuable Student for the Boys and Valencia Vazquez-Trejo, also from Silverton High School, received the Most Valuable Student for the girls at the local Elks Scholarship contest. Each student received a $1,000 scholarship and the right to advance to the district contest. There also were eight scholarships of $700 awarded for a total of $7,600.

There were 50 applications entered from five local schools: Silverton, Kennedy, Stayton, Regis and Santiam High schools.

At the district level, William again won first place for the boys, receiving a $1,800 scholarship and Valencia won second place for the girls $1,600.

William advanced to the state competition and Valencia’s brochure also advanced.

William again won first place at the state level. Valencia’s brochure did not advance any further. William won $3,000 and the right to advance to the national level. William was awarded $1,000 per year for four years from nationals, giving him a total of $9,800 in scholarship monies.

William reached the highest level we have had in 53 years of the local competition by being the first to be number one in the state from Silverton Lodge 2210. There were more than 1,000 students who applied in the state competition and 17,925 applied at the national level. The Elks National level will proudly award more than $2 million in scholarships this year. As we know, every student applies is a winner.

Darrel Brown
Silverton Elks Scholarship Chairman

Time for a change 

There is a new level of zeal for local school board politics.

Why is that? Is it a simple up tic in the interest of quality education? Is it because of the recent success in sports in our district? Or maybe it’s facilities? No unfortunately it is mostly politics. So what is driving this latest fervor to join sides against the other side? I believe the answer lies at the top.

When you have a large (business) aka Silver Falls School District, and the perception is that there have been poor choices made, ie two failed bonds, some staff issues, a facility change idea that is not popular with many people.  These things cause a renewed interest by patrons to see that money is being spent wisely and that the vision of the future of our district has a strong path to providing an excellent education for students. No, it isn’t as simple as that either. There have been many forces that have got us where we are. State funding changes, unfunded mandates, shifting enrollment, and aging facilities to name a few. That being said, it is time for change, fresh perspective, new ideas. The recent string of management decisions indicate the current administration has run out of ideas. So I am voting for a change. I am voting for candidates that show me they have the experience and vision to take our district to a future that finds new solutions to all the old problems. I will vote for candidates that have shown they, yes, care for kids. Candidates that in their personal life have worked to goals and understood failure and success. A candidate that has taught school for decades. A single dad that wants the best for his child going forward. Candidates that have lived their lives in this community and that have connections that run through out the whole district.

For those reasons I am voting for, Tom Buchholz, Phil Wiesner, Dan Johnson, Todd White, and Steve Kaser.

Fred Vandecoevering

Vote yes on fire district bond
Keeping our community safe is not free.

In 1995, Silverton Fire District voters approved a vital 20 year bond measure to help keep our fire department up-to-date and ready for any action that may threaten our homes and land. Over those last twenty years, the SFD has done an exemplary job in do what they do best: Keeping the community safe. The funds from that old bond went towards helping our Fire Department become one of the best in the State.

But that bond will mature in December. This would ordinarily mean a small reduction of our property taxes, (28 cents per $1,000 of the assessed value). As successful as the SFD has been, our community has grown considerably in those 20 years, putting a greater load on the District’s ability to serve.

Approving this new bond would assure another twenty years of service and allow for many needed upgrades for equipment and training facilities. It would keep the existing bond active, so that our taxes would in effect remain the same in regards to Fire Protection, and our Fire Department would be able to continue its excellent service knowing that they are equipped with the latest gear and techniques needed in our changing world.

As a Training & Development Specialist for the Fire & Life Safety Education Branch of the Office of State Fire Marshal, I am fully aware of the needs for on-going training and up-to-date equipment and apparatus. I urge everyone to vote YES on the upcoming fire bond this May 19. The home that gets save may well be your own!

Gus Frederick

Our community needs to Re-elect Tim Roth 

As a Silverton resident for the past five years, I have come to very much respect the hard work and dedication of the Silver Falls School Board.  I have attended many board meetings, workshops, and hearings and watched our school board work tirelessly to tackle many of the issues facing our school district today.   While elected by our community, our board members are unpaid volunteers. They put themselves into a public arena in which they are asked to make difficult decisions- decisions which will undoubtedly elicit criticism from some segment of our community.  While they do not always agree, school board members have approached issues in a thoughtful, thorough, and transparent manner.

As the current president and a 10-year member of the Silver Falls School Board, Tim Roth has done a remarkable job of leading our school district through a number of challenges in recent years.  From budget shortfalls due to trying economic times to challenging issues related to facilities, our district has continued to provide the students of our community with an education we can all be proud of.  I believe that Tim’s sincere problem-solving nature and his willingness to be a good listener have proven invaluable during his time on the school board.  He is a constant presence in all of schools.  Whether it be at sporting events, theater productions, school fundraisers, or visiting classrooms on a regular basis, Tim is a familiar face to teachers and students throughout our school district.  He doesn’t do this for fortune or fame but because he truly cares about the education of all the K-12 student in the school district.

This school board election is critical to the future of the students in the Silver Falls School District.  While some candidates may run because of a single issue, our district will face a number diverse and challenging issues, including standardized testing, integration of technology, budgetary issues, ever-changing high school graduation requirements, and inadequate facilities.   It is crucial that we have someone on the board who has experience and expertise with these types of issues. Tim Roth has demonstrated passion and the willingness to invest the time needed to lead our district on all of these fronts.

I urge you to join me in re-electing Tim Roth for School Board. Tim is a true leader-by-example who has done a great job for our school district for the past ten years. Tim deserves another term!

John Mannion
Teacher / Head Football Coach
Silverton High School  

Elect Roth, Valoff, Koch and Wernette

Newspaper editors generally make voting recommendations for primary and general elections. This helps the undecided voter who has little knowledge about  candidates. Editors ignore local elections like the one we currently face for the Silver Falls School Board, and this election is of high interest because all races are contested. I am not an editor, and my opinion is based upon my presence in the community and people with whom I have contact. I also served on the Silverton Elementary board prior to unification and appreciate how difficult and rewarding that task can be.

Every candidate will, with fervor, indicate their support for education and its necessity for future generations.  In the present case, it seems that some individuals have opted for candidacy because of their unhappiness with recent board decisions and distrust of the administration. An individual with a personal agenda or one who does not listen nor faithfully consider another’s point of view will not be a productive board member.

Silver Falls will be best served by those listed below, and they have my vote.

Zone 1.  TIM ROTH.   His experience and passion for schools deserves another term.

Zone 3.  RON VALOFF has financial experience as a mortgage advisor.

Zone 5.  AARON KOCH majored in psychology and has business experience in marketing and sales.

Zone 6.  DANETTE WERNETTE – please WRITE IN her name on the ballot.  Danette has valuable experience working with special needs students in schools and in the legal system.

Zone 7.  CHRISTOPHER BAILEY versus TOM BUCHHOLZ.   Tom is an engineer and owns a manufacturing business. His current board experience is valuable for the future.  Chris holds degrees in public policy and administration and a master of arts in Teaching. Either one will serve Silver Falls well.

Raymond Kaser

Elect Wiesner, Kaser, White, Johnson and Buchholz

As the Silver Falls School Board election nears, one important issue has been overshadowed by the futures of Eugene Field and the Schlador St. Campus. We are a broken community, split in half by bond measures, both passed and failed ones. Those of us that voted down the bonds were shamed by those who voted in favor. I wholeheartedly support the schools and believe that our children deserve the best education that we can afford them. However, there are limits to what many of us can provide financially. Bonds for another poorly managed construction and an overly extravagant new building isn’t what the majority of voters want, and frankly none of us need. Unfortunately, our school board has made the decision to close Eugene Field regardless of community sentiment. Pushing us into a corner, isn’t how any board should operate. We’re being turned against one another by our own school board. I have no doubt that change will be made in this upcoming election, but it is up to the voters to decide just how big of a change is made. To mend what has been torn, we need a school board comprised of community members dedicated to finding a compromise between what is wanted and what is needed (two completely different things). Phil Wiesner, Steve Kaser, Todd White, Dan Johnson, and Tom Buchholz are the only candidates that I believe can make this happen and they have my full support.

Leonard Huber

Elect DaNette Wernette

In the best interest of the future for our children in the upcoming school board elections, I would like to show my support for one candidate, DaNette Wernette. She is a write in candidate and this is why I want to get the word out to the Silverton community!

Over the past three years it has been my pleasure getting to know DaNette Wernette, both as a friend and member of our community. She has a calming presence at Eugene Field as a special needs teacher. DaNette always wears a smile. She would bring forward new ideas that incorporate the future of our children. She is full of positive energy, which I believe is just what the board needs after these past several difficult years! DaNette has two boys ages 3 and 9 and she wants nothing more than the very best for them and all children in the Silver Falls School District. Please write in DaNette Wernette for Silver Falls School Board Zone 6th when you vote by May 19.

Stefani Scamahorn

Elect Roth and Wernette

If you have not attended or watched a SFSD Board meeting in the last several months, you would be amazed how badly civility and decorum have deteriorated. A small group of candidates for election to the Board and a few of their followers have resorted to toxic personal attacks on a few of the current Board members and the Superintendent. While political discourse is encouraged, the behavior exhibited by this group is abhorrent, and unacceptable.

Two of their primary targets are Superintendent Andy Belando and Board Chair Tim Roth, whom I have quite well and worked with on joint City/School District issues and projects.  Their character and integrity is beyond reproach. Tim has served on the Board since 2005, devoting hundreds, if not thousands, of hours to ensure that our children and grandchildren are provided the opportunity for the quality education they deserve. Whether serving as board bhair or member, he listens, treats people with respect, and works collaboratively toward achieving results. Unlike the single issue candidates who are attacking Board members over the Eugene Field issue, Tim and his fellow Board members deal with multiple critical issues, from changing curriculum standards, state and federal mandates, and fiscal and infrastructure issues. Given the vitriolic behavior exhibited by those mentioned above, one can only imagine what governance might look like should this group take over the Board.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Mr. SHS event, along with a sold out crowd, at which Tim Roth was one of the three judges. When they were each introduced, they were warmly received by the crowd. However, the applause for Tim was incredibly loud, with many, parents and students, making it a standing ovation. Clearly, there are many who do recognize and appreciate his service to SFSD.

I encourage all of us to carefully consider our choices in this election, as in addition to Tim’s Zone 1 position, there are several good choices, including a write-in candidate in Zone 6, DaNettte Wernette.

I hope that you too appreciate Tim’s outstanding service on the Board, and that you will join me and the many others who do, and re-elect Tim.

Ken Hector

An educated voter is an effective voter

Taxpayers and especially parents in the Silver Falls School District have invested interest in the results of the SFSD Board elections this month. Regardless of your stance on how the past school bond measures results were, one thing we all need to be cognitive of is how the next one will affect us and what we can do.

Currently there are five, of the seven, Board of Directors seats open this election cycle.  This means that we have the opportunity, as a District, to select the majority that will be responsible for, of many things, deciding the fate of Eugene Field School and our aging rural schools.  Even if you do not have children in these schools, you will be paying for the bond that is coming.

We need a School Board that is made up of diverse individuals that can and will represent the diversity of the School District.  We need to make sure they are not tied to any Good ol’ Boys Club, are not running as a group with an agenda, and most importantly, are individuals who can and will work with the communities.  Five of the eleven candidates do not meet these requirements – not even close.

This is your chance to start with a school board that you can work with.  All it requires is that you educate yourself and your neighbors on the candidates.
The educated voter will be the effective voter this election.  For the educated voter, there is an easy choice for one of these seats: WRITE-IN DaNette Wernette for Zone 6.

John Wernette

Study the facts before voting

I’m really upset that some candidates for school board are running on a platform of lie and would like to debunk some of the myths being circulated.

• Myth 1: The district will be funding  the middle school at Schlador Street with reserve money.

Fact: A majority of the board agreed to secure a loan to fund the project and it is estimated to cost $2.5 million dollars. The approximately $1.5 million dollars of reserve funds are not being used on this project and are reserved for other maintenance projects in the district.  These funds have been accumulating over time from state grants, Construction Excise Tax revenue and sale of district property.  The loan will be re-paid by future Construction Excise Tax revenue, revenue from lease agreements and revenue yet to be collected from sale of district property.  Our estimates show that these revenues will allow payment of the annual loan amount with minimal or no use of general fund dollars.  In fact, Silver Falls School District is very fortunate to have these revenue sources available for use.  Many school district do not and are required to rely upon the general fund for a purpose as this.  Since we have these revenue sources we are not relying upon the general fund for payments.  Thinking otherwise is just untrue.  As such, it is not reasonable to think that a general fund impact will occur or affect any other school in the district.  There are uncertainties each year with state funding of schools.

• Myth 2: The board is not being fiscally responsible and is making a hasty decision that will potentially cripple the district.

Fact: The plan allows the district to discontinue use of Eugene Field School identified as the  most pressing facility need in the district.  This is a decision that has been made by the board on  multiple occasions – placing two bond elections on the ballot, approving the recommendations  by the Eugene Field Facility Task Force in 2014 which included closure of the school and approving board goals for 2014-15 which included development of a plan to close Eugene Field  School.  Since the bonds have failed, the board is following through on its agreement to close Eugene Field School.  This plan allows that to occur and was also approved by a majority of the  board in January.

• Myth 3: The plan to vacate Eugene Field is causing the special education students to be moved from in town to Scott’s Mills School and causes a negative impact for everyone.

Fact: Moving the Basic Skills/Functional Skills students from Eugene Field School to Scotts Mills School is being considered to allow sufficient room at Eugene Field to house full-day KG students.  This move is not the result of the Schlador campus conversion or the movement of students at Robert Frost or Mark Twain Schools. . The Basic Skills/Function Skills program is a district program.  As a district School, it is reasonable to consider Scotts Mills School or any other school in the district to house these programs.

• Myth 4:  The total cost to vacate Eugene Field and use Schlador Street has not been calculated properly so the total cost remains unknown.

Fact: This cost is estimated at $2.5 million.  The architect is  defining plans specific to the Schlador campus.  Those plans and more specific figures will be known by mid-May

• Myth 5: The lifespan of the project is questionable making it a bad idea.

Fact: This has been identified as a temporary solution until a bond can be passed in the future to better address the needs of the school district.  Based upon the last two bond elections, the public is not wanting to pay more in taxes at this point.  Board members have commented on the value of waiting to ask the voters again.  The plan to take out a loan allows this to occur.  It also allows for additional time to reconvene a long-range facility planning effort while addressing our most pressing facility issue – Eugene Field School.

• Myth 6: The following candidates for the SFSD Board positions have a better idea and their plan is more  fiscally responsible:  Phil Wiesner, Steve Kaser, Todd White, Dan Johnson, Tom Buchholz

Fact: Some of these candidates have referred to the option of a third bond attempt to address Eugene Field School.  Their suggested plans include rebuilding of Eugene Field school at a cost of $10 million or more and additional dollars placed into each of the other schools in the district.   Some have estimated another bond to be $20 million or more.  Again, the majority of board has made it clear that they are not interested in another bond attempt, that the public has made it clear that they do not want their taxes raised.  Also, there are many problems with rebuilding Eugene Field School –most are related to its location, concern for safety, very small site, no parking for staff, parents or buses and its limited scope as a school into the future.  The board has spent the past 2 ½ years discussing this need and evaluating the feasibility of continued use of the school.

Many former boards have discuss the same in the past, dating by the early 70’s.  Current board members have commented how thorough this topic has been discussed/investigated and how much input has been received from the public to make this decision.

Please carefully research the candidates before voting.

Jessica Veith

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