POST FALLS – Six candidates vying for the Post Falls school board spoke at a candidates’ forum on Thursday night.
Each explained why they are running, what they would bring to the board, the challenges the district faces, and whether an administrator should be non-partisan.
Zone 1 candidates Guy McAninch and Neil Uhrig spoke first.
McAninch came to the area from Pennsylvania in 2007. A chiropractor, McAninch said he thinks “outside the box” and the district needs an outside perspective.
As a mentor for the Department of Juvenile Corrections and as a foster and foster parent, McAninch said he wanted to “help children do their best.” His limited experience with the Post Falls School District did not leave his family “in awe,” he said. Her children do not attend Post Falls schools.
McAninch plans to make sure finances are handled responsibly and growth is accounted for. He is also concerned about the choice of programs.
“The world has taken over our society and I think it’s hurting the kids,” McAninch said.
Uhrig, a detective sergeant with the Post Falls Police Department, has lived in northern Idaho since 2011. His children, 10 and 13, attend schools in Post Falls. “I have skin in the game,” Uhrig said.
Working with the police department since 2006, Uhrig spent five years as a school resource manager in the district and is currently investigating crimes against children.
The biggest challenges facing the district are growth and operational issues, Uhrig said. He’s keen to retain quality teachers and staff and said he plans to close the pay gap between teachers in Post Falls and Washington. He is in favor of an increase in teachers’ salaries.
The Zone 4 candidates are Bridget Malek and Logan Creighton.
Creighton is originally from California but grew up in a small, conservative region, he said. Arriving in Post Falls two years ago, he said, “I feel right at home, these are my people. ”
Raised in home schooling systems, Creighton’s first experience in a public school was as a teaching assistant.
Creighton is a Customer Service Administrator for Pinkerton Retirement Specialists.
Every member of the district plays an important role, Creighton said. As an administrator, he believes his most important job would be to act as an “intermediary” between parents and educators.
Creighton said he “is researching and studying how this advice works, and more importantly how it should do it.”
Critical race theory is the biggest challenge facing schools in Post Falls, in Creighton’s opinion.
“It’s definitely something that should be addressed in how it affects our schools,” he said.
Malek has been a trustee for the past five years, has lived in Post Falls for 21 years, and has two children who attend schools in Post Falls.
His work with the Post Falls Police Department, his experience teaching the Anti-Violence in Schools program, and time spent coaching sports for Parks & Recreation motivated Malek to continue serving as a administrator, she said.
“I have been fortunate to work in this community on so many different levels,” she said.
“For a board member, students are the very first thing we consider – at all times,” Malek said.
Malek is passionate about providing alternative forms of learning such as KTEC or dual enrollment through North Idaho College.
“Not all children will learn in a standardized form,” Malek said.
Local growth is Malek’s biggest concern. Inevitably, more students will need to build more schools, Malek said.
“When you plan to build schools, you have to consider the financial resources and the financial responsibility for it,” Malek said.
Jake Dawson and David J. Reilly are competing for the Zone 5 position.
Reilly is a first year resident of Post Falls with an eight month old daughter. Currently in digital media, Reilly has seen public, private and home schooling formats. He is interested in serving as a trustee because education is where there is “the greatest possible impact on society as a whole,” he said.
Growth, transparency and inequality of wealth are the biggest issues facing the district, said Reilly. He believes that most of the people who come to the area choose to teach their children at home.
“I think it’s a failure, I think it shows that there is something missing in the current school system,” Reilly said.
Reilly plans to resolve communication issues between parents and school staff.
“I will be your voice on the board,” said Reilly. “People get angry because they don’t feel their voice is being heard.
Dawson is a third generation resident of Post Falls and works as a building maintenance engineer. He worked as a youth developer at the Boys & Girls Club for five years and believes his greatest asset is his familiarity with the community.
“I care about this community,” Dawson said. “Education is fundamental, this is where it all begins and my own children will enter the school system.”
With so many challenges today, Dawson said, “It’s time to think outside the box and be part of the solution.
Dawson said he had no political agenda. He said he would like to see the district “come together regardless of political affiliation” with the main goal of helping students become successful citizens.
Forums for mayoral, city council and school board candidates are available at postfallschamber.com.