MOSES LAKE - Election ballots were mailed out this week and two Moses Lake school board director seats are up for grabs.

Two current position holders, Kevin Donovan and Oscar Ochoa, are battling for their positions against Elliot Goodrich and Vickey Melcher.

In efforts for voter efficacy, we asked the candidates to write up a biography and answer a few general questions.

Ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 7 to count in the election.

 OSCAR OCHOA - school board Director #2

"I am a long time resident of Moses Lake, WA.  I have grown up in this community have gone through the school system here through the beginning of my high school life.  We moved when I was a sophomore to Louisiana. After I finished high school and college, I came back to this community because of my love for this area and this community.  My three children have all grown up here and gone through the school system as well. I have a freshman, senior and a student at BBCC currently as he graduated almost 2 years ago from MLHS.  I work as a social worker in this community and enjoy working with and serving people.  My passion has always been serving individuals and know that we all face different challenges and obstacles.  One less obstacle overcome is one step closer to a finish line-whatever that may look like.   Also, I have worked in a local church as a youth leader, mentor and teacher now for adult groups.  I enjoy working with families and helping them walk through different challenges that they may be facing.  I am very involved in the school and community baseball program as my boys currently play on these teams.  I am the parent representative and voice on the High School Booster Club as well as sit on other community baseball boards.  My wife and I have been married for over 26 years and we have lived life together through all this.  She is very supportive and my rock as I am very involved in various activities, and her support and understanding is one that I value most.  As mentioned before, she and I have lived life together through all these different activities and community engagement.  I value this community and respect the work that our school district has done and continues to do with children as a primary focus."

Why would you like to be a part of the Moses Lake school board and why do you think you are a good fit?

"Since my children were very young, I have always wanted to be a part of the school board as I enjoy and value education and children/youth. When a position opened, I was able to come on board and have learned so much these past four years. Our current board is a strong, cohesive board. We have a common goal and purpose for our children’s education and success.  In this time when various school projects are critical and necessary, as we face challenges with staffing, funding and various other changes, our team is one that we can continue to not only face these, but overcome and help walk through these. I do feel that I can bring quite a bit of value to the team and help be a part of a solution.  My community involvement, connection and understanding with the various populations we have are vital for our group and the board."

What are a few of the major issues you see the district currently having and how do you plan to fix them?  

"We are faced with overcrowding as one of the major challenges right now. We have passed a bond to help remedy some of that.  In years past, we have been able to strategize ways to alleviate the pains of overcrowding in our HS with an extended day. That was a great plan; however, it is only a patch and we need a long term solution.  Our elementary schools too are growing and that is a good, challenging problem to have as well. When we put a portable in one of our newest schools this year, that is only an indication of how much of a need we have for another elementary school. Another issue we are facing are levy and what that means for schools and funding.  How will that impact our athletics, counselors, and other things we do as extra in our schools?  This too already as a board is something we are having meetings about with financial experts, our ESD and representatives to help be a part of a solution.  Teacher shortage is another challenge and we continue to embark ways to help or look at opportunities to “grow our own.”  Instead of going out, how can we grow our own here locally that will be invested in our students and our community.  These are only a few of the challenges and I can continue to speak of others that are just as critical and important to our board and district."

Where do you see the district in five years under your leadership?

"I see us moving forward with two new schools, a HS and an elementary as well as an upgraded HS.  With that comes the challenge of a community coming together and being a part and support of two HS.  Walking through that will be a process, but something that I do have confidence that we can handle.  I see us being able to continue with our relationship with our Associations as we both face the challenge of teacher shortage and compensation.  How can we continue to be one of the strongest districts in the state and continue to attract great, quality individuals to invest in this community."

Why do you think you can make a difference?

"I feel that my commitment to this community for the past 26years speaks for itself.  My commitment to schools and what public education has been able to do for my children and other is important to highlight.  As I continue to stay connected with youth in this community and my career, I continue to seek ways on how we can embrace culture, change, and growth."

What inspires you to serve others in an educational capacity?

"My children and how impacting these schools have been to them and to those I serve on a daily basis.  The fact that I can also take a family from my employment that is seeking help and how much easier and willing Moses Lake School District is willing to embrace these families is impactful.  When I walk down a hall or hear a presentation from a school person, they always talk about how important students are and how much they care. I not only hear that, I see that and that is inspiring."

VICKEY MELCHER - school board Director #2

"As a wife, mother, grandmother, and former educator I feel the need and desire to do what I can to help mold the ever-changing Moses Lake school system.
 I have been a resident of the area for most of my life, graduating from Odessa High School with honors and later receiving my BA in Special Education with K-8 regular Education endorsement and my MA in Counseling Psychology with school endorsement from Gonzaga University (Magna Cum Laude)."

"My passion has been in teaching, both public and private sectors. As a teacher for more than 16 years, I had the privilege to teach all grade levels and was the Department Head of Special Education for two years at Moses Lake High School.

"I have been the bookkeeper for our family farm since 1988, bookkeeper for our local business for the last eight years, and a Big Bend Community College Foundation member since 2010.
 I have served on multiple committees, volunteered at our local charities, and have served as a Church Deacon since 2013.

Why would you like to be a part of the Moses Lake school board and why do you think you are a good fit?

"I am running as a school board director because I truly believe that the best education for our children depends on the good decisions we make for them. As a school board director, I will not only bring my education experience and background but also my business knowledge.  My teaching experience brings to the board the understanding as to what happens in the school system and how to ensure an appropriate education for the students.  My business knowledge brings to the board the ability to make effective and efficient financial decisions.  My counseling background gives me the skills to be a good listener and honest communicator.  These are all valuable skills for a school board director."

What are a few of the major issues you see the district currently having and how do you plan to fix them?

"To fix the major issues of the school district requires a team effort from the 'whole' community, which includes the taxpayers, the school board, administration, staff and students.  There are good ideas all around and it is the responsibility of the school board to show leadership by listening to those ideas with open ears.  A shortage of physical space, absenteeism, high drop out rates, standardized testing are just a few of the major issues facing our school district.  None of these can be 'fixed' by just one person, however, one person can set the example for the rest of the team by making sure ideas are heard, validated, and analyzed to come to a conclusion that is a reflection of the values of the 'whole' community."

Where do you see the district in five years under your leadership?

"Five years from now I see the district/community as a collaborative group working to ensure that all students are educated appropriately and the business of the district is being managed in a responsible manner.  Students will want to attend school because parents and educators have helped them realize the value of an education in the area of their choice.  Absenteeism will be down and graduation rates will be up.  Taxpayers will see how and where their money is being spent and be pleased with the results.  There will a constant flow of open and honest communication."

Why do you think you can make a difference?

"As a board director when proposals are made I will ask for studies that support the proposal, is the decision being considered going to benefit the student and at what cost?  I will bring my ability to ask the “what if” questions to thoroughly understand the larger picture before coming to a decision.  I will bring my commitment to the students and community to ensure decisions made are a benefit to all."

What inspires you to serve others in an educational capacity?

"Throughout my life I have always been drawn to helping and encouraging others.  I genuinely want people to aspire to reach their goals and experience success as defined by them, not others.  Because I have been able to reach my goal of being content in my life, it is my desire to help others experience the feeling of contentment in their life.  As a School Board Director I will have the opportunity to show by example the youth of our community that they can reach their fullest potential and life goals."

KEVIN DONOVAN - school board Director #4

"I am a husband and a father to 5 children. All of our children attend school in the Moses Lake School District.  My wife grew up in the Boise, ID and the Orofino, ID areas.  Our oldest child will graduate Moses Lake High School in 2018, while our youngest is a member of the class of 2028.  We are invested in the community and the School District for many, many years to come."

"I grew up in East Tennessee, the 8th child in a family of 11 children.  My father was a Civil Engineer and worked most of his career as a plant controller in Knoxville. My mother stayed home to raise each of us.  As we grew, we were all taught to be lifelong learners.  Most of us attended private school through K-12 and set personal goals to attend college.  My siblings and I all graduated from the University of Tennessee – completely funding our own way and incurring no financial debt."

"After graduating from the University of Tennessee with my bachelor’s degree in Finance, I began working in the retail sector in East Tennessee.  In 1995, I seized the opportunity to open a new market and moved to Washington State. My retail career brought me to Moses Lake in 2000 and while I was asked to transfer to larger markets many times, my wife and I very intentionally chose to stay in Moses Lake to raise our family and spend our future."

"I have spent more than 28 years managing multi-million-dollar retail operations in Tennessee and Washington. 3 years ago, I moved into the agriculture industry as a financial and operations controller for a local company. Combined I have more than 30 years’ experience in the business world. Throughout my career I have hired, trained, and developed hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals and I am well versed in the areas of budgeting, financial management, personnel management, negotiations, and leadership."

"From 2005 to 2012 I served on the Moses Lake Chamber Board of Directors.  In 2006, I began my volunteer work with the Moses Lake School District serving on the long-range planning committee and the 2007 Bond Committee.  Once this work was completed I had a strong desire to continue to serve the children of our community and I ran for the position I hold today as a Director on the Moses Lake school board.  From my first involvement in the school district, my ‘why’ has always been the children of Moses Lake.  They are the future of our community and deserve the best we can offer them – as a community and as a school district."

Why would you like to be a part of the Moses Lake school board and why do you think you are a good fit?

"In my 8 years of service, I have been selected to fulfill the role of co-legislative representative for one year, board president for two years, vice president for two years, and finally board president (again) for the past two years. I have served on the WSSDA (Washington State School Directors Association) Resolutions committee for the past 18 months and will continue to serve in this role until November of this year."

"In the latter half of 2016 I was recruited to participate in the WSSDA Leadership program for 2017. This program is an advanced leadership training program for board members that have served more than 3 years and consists of only 24 participants each year."

"I have a keen understanding of the inner-workings of the district, the unions involved, the contracts, the complexities associated with state and federal governance of education, and most importantly - the challenges faced by our staff. I am extremely supportive of our staff at every level, however I am more than willing to challenge their decisions whenever necessary. I have a strong relationship with our local legislators and I am not afraid to fight for our district and our community."

"We have accomplished many great things in my time of the board.  We have added two elementary schools, a new gymnasium at CMMS, a permanent structure for our swimming pool, improvements to Lion’s field, a new transportation facility, and CBTech. The management of school funding is more efficient than ever and we have been able to withstand multi-million dollar reductions in revenue and have saved our taxpayers millions in property tax. I feel that my eight year history serving on the board best demonstrates why I am a good fit and not only dedicated to the students in our community but also the community itself.  I take great pride in my responsibility as a board member and continually work to improve upon my own skill set and in my collaboration within our local district and the education community across the state."

What are a few of the major issues you see the district currently having and how do you plan to fix them?

"Currently, in the Moses Lake School District, we are contending with overcrowding in elementary and the high school level. We have extended the instructional day at the high school to provide a ten hour schedule so that a child can fit their schedule into.  We have moved the fifth graders from garden heights and lakeview to portable at CMMS. We are utilizing emergency certifications and long term substitute teachers to ensure that we are meeting required staffing levels."

"As a school board member it is my responsibility to not only consider current challenges but to look ahead at next year, 2 years, 5 years, ten years in the future. It’s my responsibility to serve the children of our community now and in the future and to give them the best education possible.  I am a voice of the community in my advocacy for our kids. As I look to the immediate future, our greatest challenge will be the funding of education.  The legislators of Washington through House Bill 2242 have overhauled education funding, the likes of which we haven’t seen in over 30 years.  While an overhaul of funding is long overdue, the state has decreased locally controlled funds for our district alone by more than 10 million dollars a year. This impact will have a potential effect on each and every child, through athletic funding, music, the arts, it will impact support staff."

"Long range facility planning will continue to be a challenge into the future.  We are blessed to know that the majority of our community has supported additional school facilities for many years. We have a new elementary and a new high school on the horizon, however these will take 2-5 years to come to fruition. Today we have to plan for next year and the additional children entering our schools. The community of Moses Lake continues to attract new businesses, new industries, new opportunities.  As outside entities look to Moses Lake, they first look to the school district and to the medical facilities."

"I will continue to work with the legislators from across the state and fight for a better funding model.  I will fight for more appropriate measures of student success, I will collaborate with experts from across the field to creatively engineer new solutions. We will continue to partner with universities and enhance our programs to grow our own staff.  We will continue to partner with local businesses to capitalize on the expertise widely available in our area.  I will continue to tirelessly advocate and fight for each and every child of this great community."

Where do you see the district in five years under your leadership?

"In 5 years’ time, the district is in a better position than they have ever been in, regarding educational space, program offerings and learning opportunities. Preschool is more widely available throughout the district and our children are enjoying unprecedented success. Graduation rates and student retention continue to reach new heights."

"Through state funding, phase 2 of CB Tech is well under way and will be operational within the coming school year.  We continue to enjoy strong relationships with our local unions and Moses Lake is recognized as one of the top districts to work, learn and grow in across the Northwest."

"In October of 2022, the Moses Lake community will be gearing up for the second annual Pigskin Playoff between the MLHS and MLHS2 football teams.  Lions Field will be host to tailgaters and barbecues as the community comes together to stand behind and support all of our children. Our students are full of excitement for the big game and the coming year of successes."

Why do you think you can make a difference?

"I know firsthand through the feedback from students and staff that I have made a difference in the past 8 years.  I know that I am not alone in this work and would not have known the successes without the strong partnerships and relationships that have been developed with my fellow board members, the administration team, the staff of the Moses Lake school district, and the community members who volunteer selflessly their time, energy and talents as they serve on various committees."

"The difference that we make is not only in the boardroom or my meetings across the state, it’s in the classroom.  When I’m able to volunteer to read, to practice math problems, to serve lunch, to offer a smile and a high five, a job well done to the staff and to the kids, I make a difference in the life of an individual, a difference that ripples throughout the district and the community."

What inspires you to serve others in an educational capacity?

"I am inspired by a love for children and a passion and conviction to a brighter future.  I believe we build a brighter future through our dedication to the growth and development of that future. I believe every child has the potential to achieve greatness."

ELLIOT GOODRICH - school board Director #4

"I was raised in Moses Lake and graduated from MLHS and BBCC.  I received a BA from BYU and an MBA from UW.  I own and operate a vegetable seed farm as well as do some consulting in Africa on agricultural development projects.  Until six months ago I was part owner of a farm equipment dealership in Moses Lake. My wife and I have two beautiful little girls (ages 1 and 3) who will both go through K-12 in the MLSD system.  My wife has her teaching degree and is planning on teaching full time when the girls are old enough to attend school."

Why would you like to be a part of the Moses Lake school board and why do you think you are a good fit?

"I am in this election because I believe our school board can do much better for our children and community than they currently are.  At the moment our community is divided and angry because of the approach our school board has taken to solving our overcrowding issues.  A compounding factor is that our school board has not been honest about what our capacity needs really are and they have been wasteful in their oversight of operational spending.  In addition, they have failed our children as demonstrated by our poor showing against our peers in state rankings and reviews.  I am running because I can help our schools be more efficient and responsible, improve student outcomes, and restore trust between the school district/board and the taxpayers."

What are a few of the major issues you see the district currently having and how do you plan to fix them?

·         "Overcrowding:  Our school board has been dishonest with our community about our capacity needs in order to justify the passing of our recent construction bond.  I will tell our community the truth so that we can work together to come up with better solutions that won’t waste money and hinder our district in the future."

·         "Student Performance:  I will empower teachers and administrators to try new things and be creative to try and find ways to help every student be successful.  We have unacceptable completion, graduation, and truancy rates.  We can do better and the best way to do that is to work with the people on the front lines to figure out how.  Every class is not the same, and every student is not the same, and we can achieve better results by empowering our teachers to do what they feel is best to help every student be successful."

·         "Fiscal Performance/Responsibility:  I will insist and demand greater fiscal responsibility.  Our tax dollars are sacred and should be treated as such.  We need to change the district culture to honor fiscal responsibility.  One way I will do that is by restructuring our administrators’ contracts to greatly increase the portion of their pay that is variable and based on performance around student outcomes, teacher recruitment and retention, and fiscal performance."

Where do you see the district in five years under your leadership?

"In five years we will have:

  • Solved our overcrowding problem without needlessly wasting community funds.
  • Improved student performance.
  • Reduced wasteful spending.
  • Solved our teacher shortage through improved recruitment and retention."

Why do you think you can make a difference?

"I have the experience, education, skills, and determination to help bring about change.  Our school board needs a fresh voice that will help question the status quo.  I will demand that we focus on student success and fiscal responsibility and by doing so will help our school district move from the back of the pack to a position of leadership.  Moses Lake is a great community full of great people and there is no reason our school system should not be just as great."

What inspires you to serve others in an educational capacity?

"Admittedly, my motives are not all altruistic.  I have two small children that are going to get all of their K-12 education in the MLSD system.  I would like them to have the best education possible.  Our current school board is not providing that for our children and our community and that is not acceptable to me.  I also have to make a living in this community.  I am ready and willing to support our schools with bonds and levies, but I am not willing to support them wasting our money.  As an employer I rely on our district to produce employable graduates, and like most business owners in this town I will tell you our district is currently failing in that regard.  We can do better, we must do better, and I am willing to help."

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