A choice of superlatives for Puyallup School Board

The News TribuneJuly 11, 2013 

Only one seat on the Puyallup School Board is up for election this year. It’s a shame there aren’t three — one for each of the hyper-qualified candidates competing for Position 4.

That’s how good Karen Edwards, Margie Silver and Kathy Yang are. For the Aug. 6 primary, we favor Edwards in a very tough call, but the district’s students would come out ahead with any of them.

Puyallup’s schools have a single overriding problem: space. The district already crams more of its students into portables than any other district in the state.

For the most part, these “temporary” classrooms offer poor security and no convenient restrooms. They are expensive to heat. They don’t come with lunchrooms, libraries, gyms or stages; when a school is saddled with too many of them, these common areas are overwhelmed.

The district’s overcrowded schools face an even greater crush, with more than 1,400 additional students expected to enroll by the 2017-2018 school year.

Yet its voters haven’t been persuaded to spend a nickel on school construction since 2004. The failure of this year’s $279.6 million bond measure, which promised to replace 90 portables while building new schools, was especially disappointing. Voters’ refusal to buy more classrooms is threatening the district’s reputation as one of the best in the region.

The school board — including whoever wins Position 4 — faces the challenging task of selling a new bond measure to the taxpayers.

Edwards, Silver and Yang are each more than up to the job.

They all know their way around education, starting with their own credentials: Yang has a law degree, Silver a doctorate in neuroscience and Edwards a master’s degree in public health. All have served in the system as volunteers.

Silver — who works as a scientist — has an especially impressive record of involvement with the district. Those who consider that the decisive qualification will want to vote for her.

Yang, who was born in South Korea, is a former attorney with the state Attorney General’s Office. She’d also be a formidable advocate for educational improvements.

Edwards, a former Army officer and now a grant coordinator for UW Medicine, is exceptionally engaging and focused on the fine details of the district’s growing pains. She’d be a superb ambassador to the district’s voters.

But this is a tough choice among three candidates of rare ability and qualifications. Any school board would be fortunate to have any of them.

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