Douglas School District candidates give ideas, discuss opinions, offer views |

Douglas School District candidates give ideas, discuss opinions, offer views

Reporter’s note: George Echan and Bill Laughlin are running for the Area 3 seat on the Douglas County School District Board of Trustees. The candidate who wins the election will be the only lake representative on the board. Lake schools include Zephyr Cove Elementary School, Kingsbury Middle School and George Whittell High School.

1. How do you feel about the suggested lack of communication between the board and lake school teachers?

I think we can always do better in communications, but I personally visited with teachers at all of the lake schools. This year the board implemented a policy of meeting with all teachers at the sites and I met again, two weeks ago, with teachers from all the schools and it’s this kind of effort I think we need to continue.

2. What is your view on occupational education courses?

I think occupational education must continue to be an alternative in Douglas County schools. At Douglas High School, there are over 60 vocational offerings. At Whittell there are three. However, a much greater percentage of students from Whittell go on to higher education. Whether you’re going on to college or pursuing a vocation, you must be competent in the basic academic skill areas.

3. What is the most important quality a school board member should possess?

I think the most important quality is the courage and determination to keep focused on student achievement no matter how difficult the implementation of high standards may be for parents, teachers and students.

4. How would you use your position as the Area 3 school board representative to benefit students attending lake schools?

I have monitored very closely capital improvement needs at all the lake schools. I have met with parents and students regarding the resolution of the administrative problems that have plagued the lake during my tenure. I think importantly, I have ensured and will continue to ensure parents that those students who need help will have opportunities for remediation and those students who are higher achievers will be exposed to more rigorous instruction.

5. What do you feel should be the top priority, or main focus where education is concerned?

The most important thing is the implementation of the higher standards program in Douglas County schools. More globally, we need to make efforts to ensure that the state legislature releases sufficient funds for competitive teachers salaries and for the operational needs for broad-based education reform.

6. What would you most like to see changed in the Douglas County School District?

I would like to see all the stakeholders leave their individual agendas and work in concert for the only issue of real merit in this county, and that’s student achievement and success.

7. How do you propose to safeguard DCSD schools from campus violence?

The Douglas County School District has been extremely active in preventative programs for student violence. It has a student safety committee consisting of board members, administration and police personnel. It has Student Peer Court in which the students participating recognize issues of student bullying and intimidation. The district has been very proactive in educating administrators and teachers in identifying those who have potential violence profiles and the district has implemented school intervention teams when a student may need more individualized treatment.

8. There have been some very vocal complaints about teacher salary. What is your view on the pay raise issue?

I think there is no question that teachers in Douglas County deserve more pay. The misimpression that has been communicated by many is that the local school districts and taxpayers have the ability to meet those requests. They do not. Over 70 percent of the funding, and virtually all teacher compensation funding, comes from the state. The teachers association and the board need to work in concert at the legislature to free up reasonable increases and teacher compensation.

name: George Echan

age: 55

occupation: business and real estate attorney at the law offices of George Echan.

education: bachelor’s degree in government from Pomona College and a judicial degree from University of California, Los Angeles.

South Shore resident for 21 years.

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