A packed house greets school board hopefuls

POULSBO — There wasn’t an empty seat in the house as school board candidates Dan Delaney, Reneé Arcement, Ed Strickland and Val Torrens answered questions from an intently listening audience Monday night in the North Kitsap School District office board room in Poulsbo.

Of the three seats, only the Position 2 race, between Arcement and incumbent Delaney, is contested. Torrens is running unopposed for Catherine Ahl’s soon-to-be vacated seat, and Strickland is running unopposed as well.

The non-partisan League of Women Voters of Kitsap County and the North Kitsap High School PTA co-sponsored the event, which brought about 50 interested residents.

Delaney shared his experiences as a board member with the audience during his opening statement.

“I’ve served on this board for the past four years and it’s been an educational experience,” he said. “In the past I was a high school English teacher, but nothing could have prepared me for being on this side of the chair. It’s opened my eyes to a new aspect of education.”

Delaney said he hopes to be on the school board for another four years.

“I decided last spring that I would run for re-election. I’m open minded and always do what is in the best interests for all students,” he said. “That’s at the top of my agenda.”

Arcement unveiled a little bit of her background to the audience during her opening statement. She moved to the North Kitsap area in 2000 and had a son graduate from North Kitsap High School in 2004. Her 15-year-old daughter is currently attending NKHS.

“I’m a strong advocate for students in this community,” she said. “I serve on the health advisory board. If I’m elected to the board I will increase the school district’s fiscal responsibility.”

The candidates were grilled by the audience during the hour and a half session, and asked what perspectives they would bring to the board.

“I’ve served on task forces in numerous counties and have worked with a diverse group of individuals with different backgrounds,” Arcement said. “We all want to do what’s best for all students and having students with different backgrounds is a benefit to the community.”

Delaney addressed the question as well.

“I have a sense of compassion and empathy for young people,” he said. “I come from a family of educators and have a broad background in that area.”

Conflict resolution and how each works through controversial issues was also asked of the candidates.

“My philosophy is to agree to disagree,” Arcement said. “You may not always agree with each other but everyone has the right to be heard.”

“The key to a successful board is working together as a team to try to find a common ground,” Delaney said. “Everyone has different perspectives but we must work together to find what’s best for all students.”

Candidates were then asked what exactly they hoped to achieve during their first year should they be elected.

“My goal would be to bring community members into the fold so they can be heard. I want that voice on the outside in the community to be heard,” Arcement said.

“The next 12 months I think it’s important that all of the transitions that took place this school year (opening of Kingston High School, reconfiguration of grade levels) smoothes out and the dust settles,” Delaney said. “We need to make sure students and staff are comfortable and are running on all cylinders.”

In closing arguments, Delaney and Arcement offered their final thoughts on the future of the NKSD.

“I know the decisions we make not only effect students now, but effect students in the future,” Arcement said. “With every decision that is made we all need to be aware of the impact of that in the forefront of our minds.”

“I would like to serve another four years on the school board,” Delaney said. “I think there are very important critical issues coming up in the future. I will devote my time and energy to students and promise to do the best I can.”

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