Election 2019: Lisa Hunnewell, candidate for Edmonds School Board Director District 5

Lisa Hunnewell

The Aug. 6 primary election includes multiple people running for Edmonds School District Board of Directors positions. To help voters learn more about the candidates, the My Neighborhood News Network sent a questionnaire to each candidate appearing on the primary ballot.

We will post these as we receive them.

Note that while each school board position represents a specific area, all voters living in the district get to vote for all positions.

Lisa Hunnewell is campaigning for Director District 5, which is currently held by Diana White, who is not seeking re-election. Other candidates vying for the position include Casey Auve, Nancy Katims and Rina Redrup.

Q: Why are you running to be an Edmonds School Board Director? What do you hope to accomplish during your time as a board director?

Hunnewell: My children have been a part of the Edmonds School District since 2001 and as my youngest becomes a senior at Meadowdale High School this fall, I want to offer my time and talents to give back to the community. I offer a new perspective based on my recent service on the 2020 Facilities and Bond Committee and I believe I can make a difference. Important issues I hope to address if elected include:

  • Overcrowding in our elementary schools and support for the 2020 school bond to renew our tired schools;
  • Looking creatively for new ways to serve our homeless students and their families to ensure they get to school and are prepared for success; and, 
  • Reviewing dollars spent by Edmonds School District that do not go directly towards our student’s education to resolve our budget shortfall.

Q: What experience would you bring as a board director and how is it relevant to the position?

Hunnewell: I was elected and served as the president of Trinity Lutheran Church. I served for two years — first as president-elect and then as president. This experience taught me the importance of collaborative leadership, community engagement and effective communication. I will do my best to bring this experience to the ESD position. In addition, for the past 12 years I have worked at Snohomish County PUD. As an employee of a public agency, I have experience working with elected officials. I understand the rules associated with the Public Meetings Act and the importance of engaging the public with key issues that impact them early and often. While at the PUD I have also learned the importance of a strong partnership with union leadership. I will look for ways to strengthen those relationships to ensure a common vision.

Q: In light of the decision to sign a contract with Right at School, which many parents felt they didn’t have time to comment on, how do you think the school district could improve its public engagement process?

Hunnewell: Public engagement is a two-way street. It is important that both parties are actively engaged to be successful. A public board such as the ESD board should be forthcoming about agenda items in advance to allow for citizens to share their opinions. At the same time, it is incumbent on the parents, teachers and community members to stay engaged, review agendas, attend meetings and voice their opinions when provided the opportunity. Decisions do need to be made in a timely fashion. It is vital that a public board provides the transparency to the upcoming decisions, shares supporting materials where possible and provides opportunities for input prior to those decisions being made so that the best possible solution/decision can be made.

Q: What plans do you have to ensure financial stability given the $17.7 million budget shortfall the district is facing?

Hunnewell: If elected, I will do my best to review all key areas of the budget — focusing first and foremost on areas that do not directly impact student learning. I would like to review other successful school districts that are effectively managing their budgets and see how we can learn from and model their success.

Q: What ideas do you have for addressing the more than 500 homeless students in the Edmonds School District?

Hunnewell: My initial thought on helping homeless ESD students is to look for and establish partnerships with strong social service organizations in our surrounding community. We have amazing organizations that are successfully helping our lower income and homeless families right now — Pathways for Women, the Family Support Center, Clothes for Kids, the Lynnwood Food Bank, Work Source, numerous churches, etc. to name just a few. I would reach out to these organizations to see how we can partner to understand and provide for the needs of these students and their families.

Q: How would you work with district staff to encourage and promote fairness and equity for all of the district’s students?

Hunnewell: If elected, I would look for training to provide to ESD staff that promotes inclusion and equity for all students. This could take place during in-service days during the school year. I would also look for model schools that have existing programs that are proven to be successful and set up field trips and/or initiate conversations between staff so that we can learn from their work. In addition, I would look to share successes within the district and recognize those individuals who have creatively taken steps to improve their schools in this area.

Q: A 2017 Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families study showed that the Edmonds School District is serving only 28 percent of students eligible for early childhood education assistance. What ideas do you have for expanding the District’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program to accommodate more students?

Hunnewell: As a part of the 2020 Facilities and Bond Committee, we discussed this exact issue. I was a part of a small subset team that envisioned a multi-aged type of educational experience (we called it a “Village”) on the College Place Elementary/Middle School property where we integrate a host of programs to include early-childhood education all the way through high school. It would provide a larger facility for our preschool-aged children. This is the type of creative thinking that I would bring to the board if elected.

Q: The district has received feedback from the community that it should have handled the staffing reductions due to budget cuts differently. What ideas do you have for helping to assure teachers’ job security in times of financial stress?

Hunnewell: Budget cuts aren’t easy and will likely never appease everyone. For me, cutting a teacher’s job would be the last resort. My focus for budget cuts would be on areas that do not directly impact a student’s education.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

Hunnewell: I believe that attending public school is a fundamental right and privilege of every child in the U.S. The education that we provide our children is foundational to who they become as adults. Vote for me if you believe in the issues that I have outlined and you want a servant leader and parent in the position. I will take the responsibility seriously and do everything I can to support and educate our children to assist them in becoming responsible and successful adults.

Q: Where can readers go to learn more about your campaign? (website and other contact information if applicable)

Hunnewell: I do not have a website so if there are specific questions, please contact me at lisahunnewell@outlook.com.  

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