By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Trio vying for open seat on Mac school board

The Position 2 seat is now held by Kathy Cabe, a longtime board member not seeking re-election.

Ballots will be arriving in the mail in early May. Voters will have until 8 p.m. May 21 to return them to the Yamhill County Clerk’s office.

New board members will take office July 1.

Carter retired from the McMinnville School District in 2012 after 19 years as an educational assistant in the special education program. She is currently serving on the district budget committee.

Becoming a school board member would give her a greater opportunity to serve the districts, its students and the community, she said.

Carter said McMinnville has a great school district, with excellent staff members and many exciting things happening for students. She noted the district’s success on state tests, its three model schools and three nationally recognized educators, career pathways at the high school and partnerships with businesses, such as the Engineering and Aerospace Science Academy and SOAR programs at the Evergreen museums. “But more work needs to be done,” she said.

She noted Oregon ranks 46th in the nation in terms of graduation rates, with only 68 percent of students graduating on time. While McMinnville’s rate is higher at 77 percent, “it still means nearly a quarter of our students are not finishing on time,” she said.

As a board member, Carter said, she would like to work with the district on improving the process of identifying students at risk for dropping out and keeping them in school. The district needs to develop intervention programs for at-risk students and raise standards for all students to make them more successful during and after their school years, she said.

Public education is important not only for students, but for the whole community, Carter said. “Helping students attain higher education levels attracts businesses and jobs and leads to a higher standard of living for everyone,” she said.

Scyoc is a 1999 McMinnville High School graduate. He graduated a year early to join the Marines.

He served in Baghdad and other areas of Iraq as part of an expeditionary group searching for the enemy. After finishing his tours of duty, he returned to McMinnville.

He has two sons. One is a fourth-grader in McMinnville schools and the other is 10 months old.

“They mean the world to me,” he said, and they’re a driving force in his decision to run for a seat on the school board.

In December 2012, Scyoc graduated from Western Oregon University with a degree in public policy administration and a minor in business. He said he took a number of administrative and budgeting classes, as well as courses that focuses on state and federal government.

Scyoc said he believes in accountability in all things.

As a parent, he is in almost daily contact with his son’s teachers, he said. He would like to see more of this kind of communication between parents and schools.

“I think most people can agree, when there’s more of a relationship, everyone sees better results,” he said.

He also wants to see accountability in terms of spending, making sure “the dollars we’re asking for are going toward the classroom.” He said he wants the school district to use proven methods, rather than trying out programs that might work. And he wants to see stability in terms of staff and programs, saying that would help students reach their highest potential.

“I want to see teachers be more in charge of their classroom – to be able to teach their classes and not be afraid of Monday morning quarterbacking,” he said. “They’re professionals. They’re intelligent. They’re the ones who know how to best instruct people.”

Scyoc said he is concerned by the state of education in Oregon. He was shocked, he said, when he learned only about two-thirds of students graduate in four years, with many dropping out entirely.

“We need to do something about that,” he said. “I’m sure there are ways to influence kids and keep them there.”

For instance, he said, he wants to make sure programs are offered for high schoolers who will be entering trades rather than college. “The president wants most kids to go to college, and that’s great, but we still need electricians, welders, plumbers,” he said.

Scyoc is also active in local Republican politics. He ran for a seat on the McMinnville City Council last fall, but was not successful.

Swenson is the mother of two sons, a 25-year-old who graduated from McMinnville High School and a 15-year-old freshman there. She has been active in her sons’ schools and sports teams in a variety of positions.

She served on the site council at Columbus Elementary and the school board for Bethel Christian School. She also was on the search committee for the private school’s new administrator.

She said her experiences on the site council and Bethel board “have given me experience in critical thinking and problem solving,” as well as a perspective on the challenges faced by both public and private education.

“As a school board member, I will bring my dedication, work ethic and ability to make difficult decisions to the table,” she said.

Swenson graduated from Western Beauty College with a degree in cosmetology and has worked as a hairdresser. She now is a stay-at-home mom and consultant for Arbonne International.

She is the facilitator for Sunday Supper, a soup kitchen operated out of the McMinnville Covenant Church. She coordinates 120 volunteers and, every other month, acts as head cook.

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