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Gabelein seeks Scoles School Board seat

"RAY E. GABELEINAge: 43Family: Wife Laurie, sons Brian 16, Tim 15, daughter Becky 12Years on South Whidbey: 43Career: Owns construction companyExperience: South Whidbey Little League Board eight years, served on Port of South Whidbey Marina/Moorage and South Whidbey Watershed committees, coached boys and girls Little LeagueRay E. Gabelein is challenging incumbent Steve Scoles for Position 2 on the South Whidbey School Board. Gabelein has been a resident on South Whidbey for 43 years (all his life) and is a 1974 graduate of Langley High School. He worked as a commercial crab fisher for seven years in Alaska.Gabelein would like to see South Whidbey become an above average school district.“I believe the Washington Assessment Student Learning (WASL) test scores are a wake up call for the district. The scores are good but there is definitely room for improvement,” Gabelein said.Gabelein has served on several boards and believes his years on the Little League board have helped prepare him for serving on the school board. “I would have a tendency to do same thing on school board as I do on Little League board. We would go round and round on specific problems, listen to all sides and then finally do what’s best for the students.”How do your views differ from your opponent’s (Steve Scoles)Gabelein is not sure how his positions differ from those of his opponent. But his philosophy, if elected, is to strive for excellence in education, support administrators, teachers and other staff, use a common sense approach to solving board issues and always be an advocate for students.There have been budget problems in the district the last few year. Where can money be saved?Gabelein believes he has the experience as a construction business owner to help solve the budget problem in the district but it cannot be solved in one year.“It took us over three years to get into this position and its going to take us several to build up the five percent reserve suggested to all school districts by the state of Washington,” Gabelein said. As a Little League board member he said he helped to solve a deficit in that program.“When I came on as a Little League board member. we had a $9,000 deficit. A group of us worked together and brought the Little League back into the black with enough money to improve our field with bleachers,” Gabelein said. What is the school board’s role?Gabelein’s believes the role of the school board is to provide leadership for the district, represent the community and develop a vision for the district’s future.To accomplish the vision, Gabelein explained the board must work hand in hand with the superintendent and other administrators and listen to all segments of the community.“We need to make sure our kids are prepared for the next step of their life whether it’s college or vocational/trade school training.” Do you think Dr. Bjork is the right person to lead the district?Gabelein’s experience with Dr. Lisa Bjork, superintendent of the district, has been as a parent and community member.“My contact with Dr. Bjork has been positive and good. In my dealings with her as a parent of three children attending South Whidbey schools, I have found her very accessible and willing to talk.” He added that he doesn’t know what the content of Bjork’s previous evaluations are but he would support her. “I will go forward with Dr. Bjork instead of looking back.”What do you think is the district’s priority?Solving budget issues by increasing the district’s reserve and keeping students in the district by providing excellent education are Gabelein’s priorities for the future.“My priority is to help solve the budget issue and to work toward keeping students in our our district by providing excellent programs,” he said. He expresses concern that there are a number of new homes being built but enrollment figures have not increased by much.“I know the community supports the district. And we’re able to attract good teachers and hard working students, so we have all the elements for becoming an above average district.” "

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