A female trio vying for the seat of the Central Kitsap school board

The Central Kitsap school board will look different in 2022, with District 1 incumbent Bruce Richards not seeking re-election this fall.

Candidates Denise Tracy, Sherese Hegwood and Paige Jarquin face a primary election on August 3 as voters seek to replace Richards, who joined the Central Kitsap board in 2002 and is currently its chairman. Its district includes Olympic High School, Fairview Middle School, and Cottonwood and Woodlands Elementary Schools.

In District 5, incumbent Eric Greene ran unopposed for re-election. Other members of the CK Board of Directors include Rob MacDermid from District 2, Drayton Jackson from District 3 and Jeanie Schulze from District 4. MacDermid, Jackson and Schulze began their four-year terms in 2020.

The Kitsap Sun asked Tracy, Hegwood and Jarquin to complete a three-part questionnaire regarding the upcoming election. Here are their responses:

Denise Tracy

Age: 37

Current job: Stay at home mom

Q: What do you think you would bring to the school board if you were elected?

A: I would bring knowledge of how Central Kitsap School District works. Over the past seven years, I have developed positive working relationships with families and staff at most of the schools in the district. As a mother of four in the district, two in elementary school and two in middle school, and a long-time classroom volunteer, I am familiar with the classroom climate. As a parent representative on the Central Kitsap Elementary reopening team, I also gained experience working with union representatives from CKEA and CKESP. I am passionate about improving student achievement for all students and have experience advocating for their interests. As a member of the Washington State PTA Resolutions Committee, I had the opportunity to participate in a Zoom Call with Governor Inslee last December. I was able to discuss the academic challenges related to distance learning for our district and advocate for greater communication with families as changes in the parameters for reopening schools were considered. I am a problem solver and a strong believer in servant leadership. As a volunteer, I have enjoyed meeting students, staff and families one on one, and look forward to learning more individually. I understand that general political decisions affect individuals differently, and the best way to know how policies affect individuals is to relate to and listen to those individuals.

Q: How do you think the school board performed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which made the 2020-21 school year difficult?

A: The past year has been difficult for everyone, and the Central Kitsap School Board has done what it can with constantly changing information. The board has done a great job in keeping the health and safety of students and staff as a top priority. The board was also able to recognize and praise the efforts of students, staff and families. With schools being a big issue in the state legislature this year, Principal Jackson has done a great job advocating for legislation that would help the district. No school district had all the answers in the past year, but the board continued to move forward throughout the year.

Q: What do you think are the school board’s priorities over the next two years?

A: I believe the two main priorities for the school board over the next several years are to restore high student achievement and restore community trust. The main objective of school boards is to increase student achievement. In addition to providing academic support and academic rigor, schools should focus on the mental, social, and emotional health of students and staff. This is especially true when students and staff return to full-time in-person learning and recover from the previous year. Another priority to help increase student achievement is to improve equity within each school building and in all schools in the district. Providing opportunities and support tailored to the needs and strengths of each student is no easy task, but student growth and success will be worth it. In addition, the school board will need to continue to advocate for legislation that will help increase student achievement. As the school board strives to restore community confidence, it will be important to provide more opportunities for students and families, especially students and families who are not normally represented. Continuing to practice sustainable fiscal responsibility and improving communication will also help restore community confidence. As community trust is restored, student achievement will increase.

Sherese Hodzic Hegwood

Age: 41

Current job: Teacher, Bremerton School District

Sherese Hodzic Hegwood

Q: What do you think you would bring to the school board if you were elected?

A: As an English teacher for the Bremerton School District for 13 years, I am immersed in the educational environment daily, working with students, teachers, administrators, families and community members. My college students walk through the classroom door to a house away from home. We make decisions together, we support each other, and we all gain knowledge together. My ultimate goal is to bring a balanced voice to the Central Kitsap School Board. As an educator, I would like to represent my peers, my students and families in the community. I want to work together as a group to improve schools, design district goals, and improve student learning.

Q: How do you think the school board performed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which made the 2020-21 school year difficult?

A: Considering the circumstances in which schools, families and everyone in general have been put, I think the board trustees have done their best within the bounds of the situation. They were placed in a situation that no one was prepared for and did their best for the students and families of the Central Kitsap School District. Nothing about COVID-19 has been easy.

Q: What do you think are the school board’s priorities over the next two years?

A: The top three priorities to be addressed over the next two years are reintegration of COVID-19, social / racial equity and school safety. 1. Establish a reintegration plan for students that takes into account the learning time lost due to COVID-19. The teachers worked tirelessly to interact with the students. Parents had to take on a new role, adding “teaching assistant” to their relationship with their children. Students who have always completed their apprenticeship within the walls of a school building have been invited to turn their homes into classrooms. We have to move forward with a new goal and a new perspective. 2. Social / racial equity is a difficult problem to solve, but it is time to move forward and make the messy changes that are long overdue. Given the current climate of our society, schools must not only recognize that a change needs to be made, but do the hard work to be the change. This includes equity issues regarding race, sexual orientation, gender, socio-economic aspects, etc. 3. School safety and mental health. There are always ways to improve the safety of our schools for the benefit of our students and staff.

Paige Jarquin

Age: 53

Current job: Inspection company

(No photo provided)

Q: What do you think you would bring to the school board if you were elected?

A: I feel that I would provide an opportunity for parents to have a voice. I have the impression that there is a gap between the school board and the voice of parents. I think everyone needs to be heard and they are not. The school board makes decisions that do not have input from the end user: the child and the child’s parent. I want to be an advocate for the voice of parents.

Q: How do you think the school board performed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which made the 2020-21 school year difficult?

A: It was a difficult year. I think the school board, faced with monumental unknowns, did its best at the time.

Q: What do you think are the school board’s priorities over the next two years?

A: I would like to see our children go back to school full time and unmasked. I would like to see more accountability on behalf of the school board for all of these funds that have been handed over by the federal government. Pandemic funding has gone down and I’ve seen with my own eyes how some of it has been used for new computers and all that stuff, but I’d like to see more transparency and accountability from the school board when ‘he decides those funds go.

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