Sheila Lawrence, who’s volunteered in Roseburg Schools for the past 11 years, is challenging incumbent Roseburg School Board member Daniel Endicott for Position 2.
Lawrence, 71, a retired magazine editor and published fiction author, said the time she’s spent helping out in elementary school classrooms with the Foster Grandparent program inspired her to run for school board.
“I think we need new voices in the school system. I want to make it better than it is,” she said. “I’m there every day so I see how it is. I think curriculum needs to be revamped. I think there’s a lot that needs to be changed.”
Endicott, 42, has served on the school board for the past three years. He founded and owned the Roseburg electronics store Good Vibrations with a partner for 15 years, but recently earned a teaching credential and hopes to find work as a teacher in one of the school districts surrounding Roseburg so he can continue to serve on the Roseburg School Board.
Board members cannot be employed by the district.
When he joined the school board, Endicott said he wanted to improve education for his two children, who attend school in the district, but his priorities have shifted.
“Now I have over 6,000 students that I care for deeply and individually, wanting them to have the best education possible,” he said.
In recent months, the board has struggled with the decision to close one of the district’s nine elementary schools and wavered on whether to run a tax levy to make up for declining enrollment and a budget shortfall.
Board members agreed this month to close Rose Elementary School in the fall if a $6 million bond levy fails May 21. The bond would pay for major maintenance projects to school buildings and updates to technology and curriculum. It would cost taxpayers an estimated 37 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $55.50 a year on a $150,000 house.
Although it hasn’t been easy recently to be a board member, Endicott said he remains committed to the post.
“This last year has been brutal, with no great solutions, only decisions that would greatly affect kids,” he said. “Being able to make tough choices is vital to the continued success of the Roseburg School District. With differing views we all truly want what is best for the students to succeed. I humbly ask to be part of the dialogue.”
If the bond levy fails, the district needs to be ready to close Rose Elementary School this fall, said Endicott, who was among the board members who voted in January to close a school. He said he will work to minimize the impact this will make on students, families and staff.
Lawrence said she opposes closing Rose Elementary School.
“I feel it would be a terrible thing to close a school,” she said. “We’re doing our young people a terrible injustice if you close a school. I don’t care if there are empty classrooms.”
Both she and Endicott said they support the bond.
“Financially, I don’t think I can do anything without the levy passing,” she said.
Bond funds will solve many of the district’s current problems, including being behind on updating curriculum, Endicott said. Roseburg students can’t bring home math textbooks because there aren’t enough that are up-to-date to go around, he said.
Lawrence said it concerns her that she hasn’t seen any change in curriculum the entire time she’s served as a Foster Grandparent at Winchester, Fir Grove and Fullerton IV elementary schools.
“I really think that the children ... need some instruction that’s a little better than it is now,” she said.
Endicott coaches football, basketball and volleyball for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Umpqua Valley and soccer for the Roseburg Soccer Association. He’s also volunteered for the Roseburg and Sutherlin school districts and helps out with the Central Douglas County YMCA swim team.
“I have been interested in the youth of Douglas County for more than a decade,” he said.
• You can reach reporter Inka Bajandas at 541-957-4202 or email at email@example.com.