The Oct. 18 edition of the Fife Free Press contained an error concerning the race for Fife School Board. John C. West is running against Bruce Burnside for District 5 on the Fife School Board, not Enid Duncan as was reported. Election day is Nov. 5.
Here West discusses the issues facing Fife Schools:
Fife Free Press: What neighborhood school issues do you see as your top concerns for your district and what plans do you have to champion them?John C. West: Meeting the growing needs of our diverse district. The communities served in our district are all growing some faster than others and we have to be dynamic and proactive in what opportunities we provide, how we engage with our diverse population. It requires that we do more to include the Voice of our Customers. In this case substitute all stakeholders with customer. By stakeholder I do mean students, parents of students, citizens without students enrolled, teachers, staff and local businesses. I would like to bring in a new model of gathering VOC and utilizing it to gage effectiveness or performance as a district.
FFP: What do you see as district-wide issues?JCW: The gap that exists today between traditional education and preparing our youth for life after High School. We must come together as a community to craft a model that builds on our solid foundation of excellence and opens more doors for our youth after high school. Our economic environment today is vastly different than 10 or 20 years ago. We see young people straddled with huge student loans from college degrees that don’t translate to careers, we must do a better job grounding our youth and connecting theory to reality. Also we are seeing an increasing gap in skilled labor field where we just don’t have enough talent to meet demand. We must provide our youth with opportunities to pursue skilled labor and trades work as it’s vital to rebuilding our local economy and seeding our once thriving middle class. I believe we should do more to promote the fact that you can enter college from the workforce. It’s a fact that most companies today have tuition programs offered to employees, allowing young people a head start in an industry, building their retirements while earning a degree. It also prevents huge student loans.
FFP: What are your thoughts on the 54th Avenue rail road crossing debate?
JCW: Careful thought and consideration must be given well in advance of taking action either way. There is a lot of pressure and emotion on all fronts, ultimately student safety is the major concern that must be kept in the forefront of the argument. I passionately believe that all stakeholders must be given a chance to voice their concerns and feel they’ve had a stake in the outcome whatever it may be. If 54th is ultimately opened I do believe that conditions must be agreed to well in advance with accountable and responsible parties identified to ensure that: 1) student safety is not degraded; 2) traffic flow zones, times and controls (both installation and operation costs) are provided for; and that a reasonable timeline is adopted to ensure a controlled implementation is the result. That said I’m not taking any sides at this point.
FFP: What do you see as your role as a district council member in regards to district-wide issues, particularly if they are at odds with your neighborhood school?
JCW: As board member my responsibility is to see to that needs of district stakeholders as voiced to me are included in the discussion process well before policy changes are outlined. Where district issues may need remedies that are at odds with my neighborhood school (s) I do believe it’ll be my job along with superintendent to demonstrate why out of the options available we would chose a particular course. Bottom line we need to cultivate a more active call and response with our community and that is what I intend to bring.
FFP: What experience and perspectives do you bring to the board and how do they match (or clash) with other members of the board?
JCW: I bring to the board more than 15 years Operational Excellence and Program Management. An expert in Lean and Six Sigma, Operations Management and Voice of Customer. I hold certifications in Quality Management and Organizational Excellence. I am an expert in problem solving and data analysis. I also currently serve on the Edgewood Planning commission (6 years) and have lots of practice working with citizens in public hearings, and voicing their concerns in recommendations to city council. Also as Treasurer for ASQ Seattle I can fully appreciate operation to budget and understanding how to manage cash flow, allocations.
FFP: What lessons do you think Fife Schools have learned from the recent budget struggles and how are those lessons going to benefit the district in the future?
JCW: Regarding Fife School Districts budget struggles, I know the board and staff have gained knowledge of risks and reward ranking of priorities. Through financial hard times what’s important surfaces very quickly and you learn how to better manager operations for efficiency. I would also like to believe they've learned what it means to provide accountability for those priorities. I would like to help show them how they can provide objective evidence of that accountability to their stakeholders. I also know that at least according to departing Superintendent McCammon that funding is finally coming back this year and we will have over a million more dollars coming back to the district this fall from the legislature.
FFP: What else should voters know about you?
JCW: My motto is if you’re going to have an opinion and want to share it you should be willing to get involved. It’s always better and more fun to be part of the solution and not the problem. Besides also serving on the Edgewood Planning Commission and as Treasurer for American Society for Quality, I am active in youth sports and over the years have coached FME Soccer, FME Little League and currently serve as assistant coach for Fife Junior Trojans Football.
FFP: How can voters learn more about you and your political platform?
JCW: In addition to the Voters Guide and King County Elections Voter website I have also set up an email account and Facebook page and Youtube Video. a. My email address: firstname.lastname@example.org b. My Facebook Profile: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006357991732