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home : education : schools December 17, 2014

5/7/2013 12:46:00 PM
Seats up for election on Camp Sherman school board
By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

Black Butte School is tiny - its 24 students about the size of a single class in the Sisters School District. But over decades, with high standards and a strong curriculum with lots of one-on-one engagement between teacher and student, the school has built a fine reputation across the state.

Parents and community members are passionate about the two-room school - a passion that is reflected in the interest in this May's school board election. Four of five seats are up for election, and seven candidates have filed.

Daniel Petke is running for Position 1. Petke, who runs Suttle Lake Camp with his wife, has two children in the school, a kindergartner and a fourth-grader. He has been a regular fixture at school board meetings and he feels he is ready to take on the job.

"I'll have a great connection with both the upper-grade class and the lower-grade class for quite some time to come," he said.

Petke supports continuing the policy of allowing out-of-district families to enroll their children in Black Butte School (several Sisters families are enrolled there, and there is currently a waiting list). He is concerned about the viability of the school if it were to restrict itself solely to serving families in Camp Sherman.

"Right now, there's only seven district students - and I have two of them," he said.

Mark Dean, also a parent, was filed for Position 1 by default, but he does not wish to run against Petke. Instead, he is asking voters to write him in for Position 4.

He shares Petke's concerns about the future of BBS.

"It's really important to me to have that school still be there," he said. "If they try to shrink the school, I think the school will just disappear. And that would be a crying shame."

Dean says it is important that he and Petke be elected to make sure there is a strong parent perspective on the board.

Priscilla Wilt is also seeking Position 4. A retired teacher who has a wide range of experience teaching gifted students in Washington, Oregon and California, she said she wants to bring her background to bear to serve her community.

"I'm a retired teacher, and Camp Sherman is run by volunteers for the most part," she said.

Wilt said she has no particular position or agenda coming into the board.

"My position is almost having no position," she said. "I don't believe in coming in and having an agenda before I have the facts."

A deliberative approach and empathy for both students and teachers are the assets Wilt cites in her run.

Incumbent Shane Lundgren is seeking another term in Position 2, running against Magda Shay, the wife of the former board chair, who resigned abruptly recently. Shay could not be contacted for this story.

Lundgren, who has served on the board for about seven years, said he is interested in maintaining the vitality of the school. He, too, supports continued enrollment by families from Sisters and elsewhere.

Lundgren also acknowledged that the district has accumulated reserves approaching $2 million. Some feel that that money should be saved, while Lundgren notes that it is public money designated to be used to educate students. It has served as a "rainy day fund" during what was certainly a rainy day during several hard years of recession, he notes.

He believes the school must work on comprehensive financial planning to address ongoing revenue.

Bear Brown, an early student at the school, is running unopposed for Postition 6. Ballots are due May 21.

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