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Myerson challenges DeVleming for School Board seat

Mercer Island School Board Member John DeVleming  - File Photo
Mercer Island School Board Member John DeVleming
— image credit: File Photo

Board VP Dingle also files for re-election

Filing to run June 1 for a seat on the Mercer Island School Board, local resident Dave Myerson will challenge Position 2 member John DeVleming for re-election this November. Both men and Board Vice President Adair Dingle registered their intentions with King County Elections on the first day eligible in filing for public office.

Myerson, a pathologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Cancer Care Alliance has, has worked with the school district on its volunteer Math Review Committee, guiding the MISD on curriculum decisions.

"I think I can offer (the board) something they don't have now," he said.

"We need interaction between the curriculum, student and the teacher. We need to focus on the student a little more."

DeVleming welcomed the challenge and said the election contest will draw attention to education and get residents talking about the issues.

"There's an awful lot going on the district right now and we need some continuity on the Board," he said.

In his registration with King County Elections, Myerson's candidate filing listed a a Web site, "www.dave4MI.com", presumably for more information about his candidacy. The Web address, however, brought visitors to a generic SmartSpace social networking site with no further information. An e-mail address listed was also non-functional and did not accept messages.

Myerson said the Web site and e-mail should be working in a week or two.

DeVleming initially filed to run against Dingle by accident and withdrew once he realized what had happened.

"I screwed up," he said with a chuckle.

The positions are non-partisan positions elected to four-year terms in staggered elections every two years. Candidates for public office must register before 5 p.m. on June 5.

The incumbents say their desire to support Superintendent Plano in continuing reforms for grading and the curriculum are driving their decision to return for another four-year term. Those ambitious changes, key components of the 2020 Vision plan, were approved last year but state cuts in education funding may force a scaling back of plans.

School Board issues on the table

Support for Superintendent Gary Plano, an ambitious plan to reenvision education and an agreement to build the PEAK activities center using public land and money will be on the ballot this November as two of the five Board seats are up for election. The positions are non-partisan positions elected to four-year terms in staggered elections every two years.

"Incorporating it may be a challenge," said Dingle.

During its May 28 meeting, the School Board examined the Mercer Island School District's (MISD) estimated $2 million deficit and weighed its options, which includes eliminating or reducing the hours for a dozen para-educator and administrative positions.

Dingle focused on 2020 Vision goals

Working full-time as a Seattle University professor of computer science and engineering, Dingle said her background in post-secondary education gives her a unique perspective on where high school graduates are prepared, and where they are not. Her four children, three of whom are in the Island's public schools, also give her the perspective of a mother. She said she is prepared to push through the reforms – particularly for the math curriculum – despite a lack of funding.

"It's going to be a challenge," she said. "But the world is changing rapidly and expectations for our students are changing rapidly."

If re-elected, Dingle is in line to become president of the Board according to the Board's custom of rotating the position every two years.

DeVleming seeks to move forward with plans, keep the peace

Meanwhile, DeVleming has been more concerned with keeping the peace between the Mercer Island Teacher's Association (teacher's union) and the MISD remains intact during the budget crisis. He wanted to ensure that events like a teacher's strike in Bellevue last year doesn't happen here.

"We've got a great superintendent and a great union head [in Mike Radow]," he said. "They've given us a great opportunity to take some dramatic steps."

The local attorney, originally from Pullman and graduate of Yale University and the University of Idaho Law, has put his children through the Island's schools and says he's joined the ranks of an estimated 75 percent of residents who don't have kids using the schools.

He credited predecessors John Fry, Ken Glass and Carrie George – all elected in the 2001 School Board elections - with paving the way for the MISD's present initiatives that he's helped along.

Chief among them is PEAK, a public-private partnership between MISD and the Boys and Girls Club of Mercer Island to build a modern recreation and sports facility that is used both by MIHS and the club. Some residents have raised questions about the size, scope, location and ethics of the agreement, but DeVleming was emphatically not buying it.

Times, he said, have changed: Thanks to equal opportunity statute Title IX, girls and women are using athletic facilities. Older adults also seek to exercise in increasing numbers there.

"The amount of gym space has not changed in three decades," he said. "It's a darn shame that Mercer Island kids haven't had the opportunity to use these facilities in the past."

But DeVleming's proudest accomplishment as a board member has been the MISD initiative to support teacher development through certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching. About 20 teachers in the district are certified, and another 15 are on their way.

This year's General Election is scheduled for November 3.

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