SANDPOINT — Unless someone files as write-in candidate today, there will only be one contested seat in the upcoming school board elections.
In that race, incumbent and Lake Pend Oreille School Board Chairman Steve Youngdahl is facing newcomer Peter Kriz for the Zone 5 seat, which covers downtown Sandpoint.
In Zone 2, which covers the area south of Highway 2, west of Highway 95 and south of Sagle, Vickie Pfeifer has chosen to not pursue another term on the school board. Barbara Oler is running uncontested to take her place.
Finally, Joan Fish is seeking another term for her Zone 3 seat, which covers the area west of Highway 95 and north of Sandpoint. She is also uncontested.
Youngdahl said he hopes to continue his seven years of experience on the board by pointing back to the governing body’s past achievements.
“(I) have been part of a well-functioning board that has demonstrated excellent fiscal responsibility and continued improvement in student achievement,” Youngdahl said. “As part of that board, I have proven a track record.”
For all the progress the board has accomplished in the past, Youngdahl said there’s plenty of work left ahead. That being the case, he said his commitment to being a responsive, active board member to all community members. He said he wants to continue efforts in providing a safe environment and comprehensive education for students and parents, an excellent value for tax payers and a school district that attracts new employees for business owners.
“We have made great strides on accomplishing these (goals) and meeting the community’s expectations,” Youngdahl said. “I would like to continue with the good work that we have done as we transition into the new Common Core State Standards.”
The Zone 5 seat is contested by Kriz, who said he has nothing against Youngdahl or his performance as a board member. Instead, he’s running on an issues-based platform because he believes he has skills and experience that will benefit the community. His primary goal is to establish an educational system that better prepares students for life after graduation.
“In general, the K-12 system prepares students for a kind of game that’s different from the one in the real world,” he said.
Kriz backs his candidacy with his academic and professional achievements, which include a doctorate from the University of California, Santa Cruz, experience as a research analyst and eight years of experience as an economics professor at Singapore Management University. He also has three children in the district. He and his family moved from Singapore in 2010 to renovate their home and get their kids into a more supportive education system, and his current focus is on raising his children. Kriz said he’s eager to contribute to education on a local level.
“I’ve seen education from both a systemic point of view and a nuts-and-bolts point of view,” he said.
Finally, Oler hopes to continue her work in the school district by securing the Zone 2 seat. She has extensive experience working with local schools by managing parent-teacher associations, organizing events and contributing with office work. When Pfeiffer elected not to run again, Oler decided to continue her friend’s work on the school board.
“I’ve got big shoes to fill in Vickie’s place, but she always warned me I’d be doing this eventually,” Oler said.
The trustee election will take place on May 21. Those wishing to vote must reside within a zone up for election this year.