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Pangle and Simmons to face off for school board seat

They've faced each other before on the ballot for a seat on the Sunnyside School Board. They've even served on some of the same school improvement committees during the past several years.

In November, Sunnyside School Board Director Larry Pangle and challenger Rocky Simmons will again face each other when their names appear on the General Election ballot.

Both are seeking election to the Sunnyside School Board as the director of district #1.

Pangle, who was appointed as director in August 2004, is now seeking his first election to the position to fill out the remaining two years of an unexpired term. He was appointed to fill the position when then board member Andie Bieber resigned the seat to move out of district. Bieber beat Pangle in 2002, after eliminating Simmons in the Primary Election.

But that hasn't deterred Simmons from putting himself up against Pangle again in 2005.

"I want to be in a position to make the decisions that impact our children," Simmons said.

"The only way to effect those decisions is to be on the board," Simmons said.

A long time school district committee member, Simmons served on the district's Vision Alive team, a committee which also included Pangle. Simmons said as a committee member he didn't always feel as though the committees' recommendations were taken seriously. "I don't think we should be setting up committees for the sake of having a committee," he said.

"Education of the children is our primary goal and we can always be doing things to improve that process," said Simmons, who served as school board member at the former St. Joseph's Catholic School before it closed.

"I have experience serving on school board and believe I can bring that experience to the Sunnyside School Board," he said.

Simmons, who said he and his wife Laura have always been involved parents, wants to see more parents involved in their children's education. We can see that parental involvement gets results, he said.

"But for those of us who can't get to the schools regularly we have to recognize that school is an extension of us. We have to reach for what is the best way to serve each kid," he said.

"I want to be in on making the policy decisions to make the district better for our kids," Simmons said.

"The committee work was a good experience," Simmons said. "But I want to do more."

As the incumbent, Pangle said he is excited about the new school construction. "I want to see all of our kids out of the portables and in real classrooms," Pangle said.

Portables are used throughout the district to serve as temporary classrooms, he explained.

"I'm excited about the new middle school and the planned renovations on the other district buildings," Pangle added.

"But we have to be concerned at all times about providing safe conditions for the students, which is why I think moving out of the portables is a good idea," Pangle said.

Pangle said he believes the district is making progress on the WASL achievements, but he is concerned about the reality of the 2008 deadline for this year's 10th graders, who will be required to earn a 10th grade certificate of mastery to receive their high school diploma.

"I think the kids are doing better each year on the WASL, but what concerns me is how the state is going to manage those students who don't past the test the first time around," Pangle said. "The state hasn't really said how school districts are to handle that," he said.

"I want to be around to help to be a voice in that discussion," Pangle said.

He said he is pleased with the district's steady improvements in the students' test results. "But I'm not a fan of the No Child Left Behind Act," he added.

"Everyone is working hard and are being asked to do a lot of different things," he said.

Pangle said he feels the federal government is asking for a lot of improvement without offering funds to cover the cost of training and materials needed to make those changes.

"They keep asking for changes, which in turn throws the school districts into a constant turmoil, especially those schools struggling to meet the federal standard," Pangle said.

"I just don't think that is right," he said.

Like Simmons, Pangle is a big believer in parental improvement in the schools.

"We have to make it less scary for parents to ask about their children's education," he said.

"I think we are beginning to make headway there," he said. "But I want to see more of that," he added.

"School isn't like it was when I was in school. Now more than ever, kids need the support of their parents. Parents have to be ready to get involved in school to help out their children," he said.

"I know that constantly being after your kids to do their homework is exhausting, but we have evidence that when parents are involved their children do well in school.

"But I think we have to give the parents support as well," Pangle added.

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