Wednesday, March 05, 2008

who is Paul Parker?

This is the second in a four-part series, introducing you to the four applicants for the District 2 seat on the Olympia School Board, which was vacated when Rich Nafziger resigned.

The series will go in reverse alphabetical order, and will wrap up before March 12, when the candidates will face questions in a "community forum environment."

I've made care to accurately quote or represent the candidates, and any potential errors are my own.

Paul Parker lives down the street from Jill Johnson, one of my colleagues at Capital. "Paul's hard-working, thoughtful, and smart," she told me over lunch on Tuesday. "Thorough, too." The only applicant with a law degree, Parker has worked in higher education and state government, and currently serves as a senior policy analyst for Washington State's Transportation Commission.

More to the point, Parker is an active PTA and Site Council member, and chaired the district's Budget Advisory Group in 2007. Last June, after examining the district's finances, the group advocated some cuts that, to paraphrase Parker, "washed out" with paired with recommended expenses.
Parker and other advisory group members who attended an Olympia School Board study session Monday said they think the group would need more information about the district’s entire budget to make decisions about how to make additional cuts. Traditionally, the group has strictly focused on potential cuts and additions proposed by district staff.
Parker's role, as the committee title should make clear, was strictly advisory. Should he join the Board, he'll have the unenviable chance to make cuts firsthand, since we still face at least a $1.5 million shortfall in the coming year.

When it comes to policy recommendations, Parker has three specific goals for the district:
  • Encourage more students to study world languages such as Spanish and Chinese and be proficient in them by the time of graduation;
  • Prepare more students for careers in science and technology, either in college or in the workforce; and
  • Provide students more exposure and hands‐on experience with fine arts.
You can read Parker's resume and a brief purpose statement here [pdf].

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