Creswell, News

Six file, two contested in school board election

Six people have filed for the four open seats on Creswell School Board (CSB), with some new and some old faces stepping up to the plate to the May 21 election.
Terms for Chair Tim Rogers, Vice-Chair Natalie Smathers and directors Kandice Lemhouse and Paul Randall will expire this May. Directors Smathers and Randall have not filed for their positions, while Chair Rogers and Director Lemhouse’s seats are contested.

POSITION ONE – KANDICE LEMHOUSE & WHYAT OCUMPAUGH
KANDICE LEMHOUSE-WORSHAM has filed for her position again. Lemhouse-Worsham has been serving on CSB since May 2018. A graduate of Siuslaw High School, she received her bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration from Oregon State University (OSU) and a master’s degree in business from Salve Regina University.
Director Lemhouse-Worsham is the senior application consultant at Bails & Associates LLC, and was previously a human resource partner and a human resource management system analyst at PeaceHealth.
She has been on the board of directors for WomanSpace, and was also a past president. She was on the Junior League of Eugene board of directors, and was also past president.
Lemhouse-Worsham said that after joining the board last year, she ”has seen first-hand the opportunities the district has in supporting our students and families in the community.”
One of her priorities include filling the superintendent role, noting that, ”creating stability in our district for the students and teachers is important to ensure we continue moving forward.” She wants to partner ”with the new superintendent to provide strong leadership to our district through transparency and communication to families, students and teachers,” she said.
Lemhouse-Worsham said her other priority is to support and increase the community partnerships.
”The value added to our district through partnerships are irreplaceable and provide support to our students that the district can’t provide alone,” Lemhouse-Worsham said.
WHYAT OCUMPAUGH previously served on CSB from March 2015 to April 2017. Ocumpaugh attended Creswell High School. He joined the United States Air Force his junior year, and graduated high school from Ellsworth Air Force Base. He is a graduate at Pioneer Pacific College, where he received a diploma in computer networking, and also attended Lane Community College for building construction and machining.
Ocumpaugh is an information systems technician at Jerry’s Home Improvement Center. He has a background in millwork and woodwork, and has experience working in the U.S. Army Reserve as an aircraft electrician, civil engineering electrician and as a microwave radio technician.
He said he decided to run for the board position because, ”of the escalation of lawsuits and teacher misconduct… causing parents to (not allow) their student in certain classrooms and parent complaints (that result) in students leaving the district,” Ocumpaugh said. ”I have also been asked by multiple community members to file as they thought I could help.”
Ocumpaugh said main areas of interest include, ”openness and responsiveness to the community – listen and really give them answers; overhaul the complaint system at all levels; ensure the safety of – not only the children – but the staff and all other employees; and to get the curriculum into public view and review.”

POSITION THREE – TIM ROGERS & DEBI WILKERSON
TIM ROGERS has been serving on CSB since 2013. A graduate of Creswell High School, Rogers received a bachelor’s degree from OSU in pulp and paper technology, and received a master’s degree in education from Northwest Christian University (NCU).
Rogers is employed as a science laboratory and operations manager at NCU, manages the NCU science lab complex and also assists with biology and chemistry lab instruction at the school. Previously, Rogers was a purchasing agent for OSU; a lab manager at Chemcraft Coatings; and a chemist for Akzo-Nobel Coatings.
Rogers said he chose to run for his seat again because he is experienced in the classroom, in developing and executing a budget and is experienced with working on a team to make difficult decisions.
”Educating the children within our school district with limited available funding has always been daunting, but never more so than now,” Rogers said. ”Once again, it appears likely school funding in Oregon will fall significantly short of the Quality Education Model level established by our legislature. Hard decisions will have to be made by our superintendent and board.”
Rogers said, ”as a former Mustang, Tiger and Bulldog, graduating from Creswell High in 1985, I am very concerned for the future. As an ongoing supporter of the district, having sponsored the May Anderson Scholarship for over 25 years with involvement in groups aiding the district, I am very invested in the success of our students and the school district as a whole.”
His main areas of interest include: ”Enhanced transparency. To get this going I have helped to facilitate the posting of board minutes online, and have begun meeting with Erin Tierney at The Chronicle on a regular basis,” he said.
He is also interested in an increased graduation rate.
”Obtaining a high school diploma in Creswell must be engaging and prove useful. Our graduation rate simply is not good enough and our new superintendent will need board support to put plans in place to raise it,” Rogers said.
He is also prioritizing advocacy, Rogers said.
”The Oregon legislature needs to systematically raise school funding to the level established by the Quality Education Model and to reduce unfunded mandates,” he said. ”I have met with our Oregon legislators in the past, and will continue to do so in order to communicate this message.”
DEBI WILKERSON is a graduate of Creswell High School, and attended Lane Community College for accounting and communication. Wilkerson is a registrar at Lincoln Middle School in Cottage Grove. She was previously a senior accounting clerk for Lane County Sheriff’s Office and an educational assistant at Creslane Elementary School.
”We have three children who have attended Creswell School District; our oldest graduated in 2017 and we will have a graduate this year as well as in 2020,” Wilkerson said. ”I feel a strong sense of loyalty to Creswell School District for all it has provided me and my family.”
Wilkerson said that, ”a vital principle for any school district is to strive for accountability and transparency at all levels. I want parents to feel informed and confident in the decisions that the district makes. I want students to have the best educational experience possible.”
Wilkerson said she feels strongly about providing both traditional and vocational education for children. ”It is also very important for our children to be afforded the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities,” she said. ”We should ensure students are prepared for life after graduation. I want our children to be ready for the real world, and feel our schools are an important part of this process. Lastly, I feel strongly about the safety and security of our schools and would like to make it a focus of mine if elected.”

POSITION TWO – MARK A. PARKER
MARK PARKER filed for Director Smathers’ position. He attended Community College of the Air Force and the US Army Advanced Leadership School, studying leadership in both institutions. Parker also received an associate applied science degree from Lane Community College in environmental control.
”I have spent 22 years serving my country in both the US Air Force and the Oregon Army National Guard,” Parker said. ”Now that I have retired from the military, I wish to continue to serve my community. I have a very diverse background and know that I can be a positive influence on our school system. My children are grown, but I still have a vested interest in our schools, as my granddaughters continue their education through elementary, middle and in the not too distant future, high school.”
Parker said his main areas of interest include: ”working with the school district staff and community members to establish a better working rapport with our school board,” he said. ”I want to focus on better transparency and communication within our school system.”
He said ”it is my belief that we all benefit from the solid education of our town’s children. Our community has a responsibility to put every effort into quality education for our kids, primarily (but not just) because they are entitled to it, but because we benefit from their success as well. Our town is worth all the work we can put into education. I want to work to help make that happen.”

POSITION SEVEN – ASHLEY MILLER
ASHLEY MILLER filed for Director Randall’s position. She is a graduate of Cottage Grove High School, and also attended Lane Community College. Miller’s educational background includes business management, budgeting, marketing, finance and also served as a stay-at-home-mom for five years. Miller is an executive assistant at Jones & Roth.
”I have decided to run for school board because I want to be more involved in my community,” Miller said. ”The school board plays a vital role in making sure our students and teachers are excelling and I look forward to being a positive part of that.”
Miller’s main interests in serving the board include: ”being involved with the incredible community of Creswell as well as the great folks that run our schools, (focusing) on the students and families of Creswell as well as district challenges.
Miller is also interested in ”being part of a cohesive board and spreading the importance of exceptional education in Creswell.”
Terms for directors Mike Anderson and Lacey Risdal will not expire until 2021.
Board elections occur in May of each odd numbered year. Board members are elected from the district at large to serve four-year terms. To be eligible for election to the board, a person must be a registered voter in the school district, and have been a resident of the district for one year immediately preceding the election.
The term of office for board members begins on July 1 immediately following the election.
CSB meetings are typically held the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at this District Office, 998 W. A St.