#schoolsafety | Nine Mile Falls School Board race pits police major versus retired teacher

The candidates for the Nine Mile Falls School District board both have student welfare in mind for their campaigns, but they differ on the particular issues they see as most important.

Eric Olsen, 50, a major for the Spokane Police Department, is running on a school safety platform.

Olsen said he would form a school safety committee and contract a safety analysis of the Lakeside High School building. With his background in law enforcement, he said he would be able to perform a rudimentary study of the high school himself if necessary.

School bus safety is another concern for Olsen, who said he wants to look at a new reporting system for vehicles that violate traffic laws related to buses. He also said he wants to look into mounting cameras on buses.

Mary McAdam, 64, who taught in the district for nearly 40 years before retiring two years ago, said her focus as a board member would be on “making sure every kid has a meal, making sure every kid is taken care of.”

Primarily, she said, that means a free and reduced breakfast program for students, as well as encouraging parents to self-report the need for reduced-price meals.

To address school safety, McAdam said the high school needs a stricter check-in and check-out procedure. She said the district is meeting other requirements.

In the August primary election, Olsen won about 45% of votes. McAdam captured almost 27%, edging out Kirsten Foose by 9 votes.

Foose said she is endorsing Olsen in the general election.

“He cares very, very much, even though he and I disagree on a couple particulars,” she said. “I think he is much more able to meet the needs of kids in the district and represent voters in the district.”

Olsen said he has met with all the current Nine Mile Falls School Board members except one and talked to other larger districts too to learn about how they are addressing school security and funding.

He also said he reached out to Northeast Washington Educational Service District 101 officials to better understand how the Legislature’s new funding model affected the district.

“I want to voice that to the Legislators and the state school superintendent’s office,” he said.

McAdam said she would also advocate for school funding changes in the Legislature. At the district level, she said officials need to look at reorganizing their own budget to reduce costs.

“We need to see what programs can best be served in another way,” she said.

In light of the fact that personal property taxes are going up for some residents of the district, McAdam said she wants to wait on running a bond for a new high school.

“You don’t want people to be burdened too much,” she said.

Olsen said he wants to keep studying what it would like to build a new high school versus enhancing the existing building.

“In due diligence we need to step back and look at what improvements can be made to our facilities,” he said. “We need to do a cost analysis on if it us going to be worth us investing money in old schools.”


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