The three candidates running unopposed for the school board elections in May all said they hope to preserve the quality of education in Ashland in the face of continued budget cuts. Few Ashlanders seemed willing to take on that challenge, as all positions remained empty until the last week before the filing deadline.
Carol Davis, Eva Skuratowicz, and returning board member Ruth Alexander, who had previously announced she would not run for re-election, all bring experience in education they believe would be a valuable contribution to the district.
Davis, running for position one, served on numerous district committees, including two terms on the budget committee, the school closure committee, and site councils at Helman Elementary and Ashland Middle School. She also chaired the school bond committee that helped obtain funding for the $46.8 million construction projects now nearing completion and is currently recruiting child development speakers for middle school parents.
Her eighth-grade son attended Briscoe Elementary before it closed, experienced the middle school downsizing and will be part of the high school redesign next year, she said.
"It's pretty clear the downsizing of the school district is going to continue, and I just want to make sure the kids get the best education they can, and that's all the kids, not just my son," she said.
Davis and her husband John moved to Ashland 12 years ago because of the school district, always intending to stay involved in their son's education.
"Public education requires involvement of the parents," she said. "You don't just turn your kid over; you stay involved and do everything you possibly can to support the people who have the responsibility for educating your children."
Davis co-owns Davis & Cline Gallery with her husband and she works primarily as a retail store design consultant through her architectural corporation, Carol Horn Davis AIA.
Skuratowicz filed for position three after determining that it was a good opportunity to join the board she had wanted to be on for several years. She was part of a recent parent group working to reduce class sizes, and although she now believes it will be years before those issues can be addressed, she wants to use her skills in organizational sociology to help the district deal with its current issues.
Skuratowicz is the parent of a preschooler and a third grader at Willow Wind Community Learning Center and an adjunct professor of sociology at Southern Oregon University. Her work in organizational research has enabled her to understand the perspective of all members of an organization, a skill that should be valuable when the district makes tough decisions in the next few years, she said.
"In the long run, I would like to start looking at issues on class size, but at this point, it seems like the most important thing is to deal with the budget and maintaining our academic excellence," she said.
She would also like to see more community involvement in the board, encouraging ongoing public input.
Alexander changed her mind about running for position five after watching all slots remain empty until close to the filing deadline.
"Up until really the last week nobody had signed up, so we were getting worried that no one was going to run," she said. "That helped me to examine my own position, and I decided that it was important to put my name in."
Joining the school board as a new member presents a steep learning curve, and having a third experienced board member in the midst of a budget crisis seemed like a good idea, she said.
"You become familiar with the ways schools are run, the people who are running the school," she said. "I've gotten to know a lot of teachers, all the administrators, and there's a familiarly that actually helps. It really does help to know people as people and not just symbols."
During her tenure on the board, Alexander has been involved in the high school redesign, second language committee and farm to school program, all ideas she would like to see carried through to fruition, she said.
Elections will be held May 19. Voters may also write in additional candidates.
Reach Julie French at 482-3456 ext. 227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.