Shoreline School Board, Director District 5 Candidate statements

Friday, November 1, 2019

The seat for Shoreline School Board, Director District 5 is open. Sara Betnel and Joe Cunningham are vying for the position. Their statements follow:

Sara Betnel
Sara Betnel

I love this community and care deeply about creating a place where all our children thrive.

A long-time resident of Shoreline (and now Lake Forest Park), I’m the parent of 2nd and 5th graders who’ve attended the Children’s Center (now Edwin Pratt ELC), Cascade K-8, and Brookside. A proud graduate of public schools (Woodinville HS and UW) with an MFA in Theatre Education, I have worked for over 20 years to advance the mission of nonprofits, community foundations, and businesses doing good in the world; most recently as the sole proprietor of Reveal Communications.

I’ve been an active education advocate for many years across the District and State (with Washington’s Paramount Duty and as PTA Legislative Chair for the District) working to achieve full funding for public schools, supporting staff, and forwarding efforts to help our most vulnerable students and families.

As a parent, I’ve seen how challenging it is for students and families to be informed of and included in Board decisions. As an educator, I understand the challenges our educators face serving each child’s unique needs in an ever-changing, underfunded educational landscape. As a business owner, I know the importance of clear goals for effective budget and operational management.

I am running to make the Board more transparent, proactive, responsive, and accountable; one that builds relationships throughout the District to enable community-informed decision-making that will help us move forward on addressing gaps in equity, lowering class sizes, supporting staff, creating inclusive learning environments, establishing mental and behavioral health supports, and being ready for our area’s coming growth.

I am honored to have received the endorsement of the SEA and SESPA (our educators’ unions), Equal Rights Washington, as well as many local leaders and families in the District.

I invite you to contact me and would be grateful for your vote.

Joe Cunningham
Joe Cunningham

Education’s always been an important part of my life. My Dad was a School Superintendent and my Mom was a music teacher. I was raised on Native American reservations (Standing Rock, Pine Ridge, Fort Peck) and in Central America. I grew up around the need to improve equal access to education, working together to create equitable outcomes for all children. I raised my kids in the Shoreline schools. My daughter attends Shorecrest. My son who has autism, graduated from Shorecrest on the Dean’s List, and currently attends college. I am a member of Shoreline Special Needs PTSA, and other PTAs.

From my eight years at Kindering, a local nonprofit dedicated to early interventions for students with developmental delays, I helped decrease the need for costly special education services by 41%, resulting in better educational results for these students.

As a former policy analyst for King County, I have the practical experience it takes to look at the whole picture and run a school district for everybody’s benefit. I can set a budget, improve curriculum and make sure the schools implement policy the right way.

My priority is to ensure every kid has access to the academic and supportive programs kids need to succeed. I will invest in inclusion, social emotional learning and restorative justice integration, ensure equitable and accessible Highly Capable programs, and implement the “Since Time Memorial” curriculum to meet the needs of our diversifying student population.

As board members, we must communicate and be transparent. I will listen, and do more to include educators, staff, parents, and community members in decisions that will impact them.

My endorsements: Senator Jesse Salomon, Representatives Cindy Ryu, Lauren Davis, Javier Valdez and Gerry Pollet, County Councilmember Rod Dembowski, former Representative Ruth Kagi and former Shoreline Mayor Shari Winstead and many other leaders.


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