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Linde, Werkhoven seeking soon to be vacated school board seat

One is a community volunteer and retired school administrator and the other has nearly three decades as a parent and volunteer in the Sunnyside School District.

Both Leroy Werkhoven and Sandra Linde are seeking the Sunnyside School Board seat currently held by Steve Carpenter, who is retiring from the board at the end of this year.

Linde, a special programs coordinator for Sunnyside Community Hospital, has served on school district committees ranging from policy development to ethics, as well as four principal selection committees.

She sees service on the school board as a logical next step, especially given the state's ongoing budget issues.

"Education and how it's funded will be a discussion and I want to be at the table making those decisions," says Linde, who has the two youngest of her six children attending Sierra Vista Middle School.

During a presentation this past Friday to the Sunnyside Republican Club, Linde said if elected she will value the involvement of community. "I want a board that wants to hear from the community," she says.

She says her goal would be to prioritize spending in the face of future budget cuts, with a focus on retaining staff who work directly with children.

Linde also said those who work directly with children, such as teachers and paraeducators, need to have high expectations for their students.

"We need to prepare them for the real world," she said.

Werkhoven, an administrator in three school districts before retiring from Wapato, told Republican Club members that when budget cuts are made schools should try to retain vocational programs.

Werkhoven, who serves on boards for Transformation Sunnyside and the Loving Sunnyside Initiative, noted his own experience as a youth, and how vocational programs were a key to helping him in school.

In turn, the Vietnam veteran says a big part of his focus if elected will be improving graduation rates in the school.

He praised the improvement SHS posted this past year, with a jump to a graduation rate of 65 percent. Even so, he says more improvement is needed.

"Dropping out is the greatest tragedy that can happen," Werkhoven said of those who drop out of high school.

He also says working with parents is important.

"We must find a way to engage the parents," said Werkhoven, who raised $80,000 for scholarships by bicycling across the country and co-founded a non-profit that brings funding for students in this area.

Both candidates realize more budget cuts loom ahead with the state facing a continued shortfall in revenues.

If elected, both said they would try to seek across-the-board budget cuts so that all staff share in the cutbacks, instead of some having to be laid off.

Werkhoven cautioned that school boards in the future might be facing budget cut decisions that go deeper, given the state's economic situation.

"I'm afraid we're looking at cuts more than across the board," he said.

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