School board members from around Washington state will vote in November on a replacement for Yakima’s Phyllis Bunker Frank, who is leaving the State Board of Education because of term limits. Frank served two four-year terms on the state board, which develops policy and provides oversight for the state’s K-12 schools.
What does the board do? As an example, it is working with the new Washington State Charter School Commission to implement a framework for charter schools under the provisions of voter-approved Initiative 1240. The 16-member board also determines accountability standards that gauge the performance of schools. This is a hands-on group that serves an important function in this state’s education system.
Frank, a speech and language pathologist, served 12 years as a member of the Yakima school board. She touts her work on involving families and community members in children’s education and has been involved in a range of reform efforts. She has served as a board member overseeing policy for the National Association for Year Round Education.
To the state and national boards, Frank brought years of practical experience and observation at a district that was — and is — grappling with issues of poverty and language among its students and their families. While certainly not unique to Washington, those issues affect Yakima and other Valley districts more acutely than they do most other districts in the state.
By statute, Frank’s replacement must reside east of the Cascades. While geography is certainly key, we hope her replacement also comes with a background of knowledge and experience with districts like those in Central Washington, someone who can help those at the state level understand what school districts here face.
The state board now is accepting applications for Frank’s seat. Her replacement, once elected, cannot work for any public or private school or institution of higher education, any educational service district or the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The replacement also cannot be a school board member of any public school district or private school. Applications are due at the state superintendent’s office in Olympia on or before 5 p.m. Aug. 31.
We hope that come November, the voting members can choose from strong candidates with backgrounds in the particular challenges facing Yakima Valley school districts.
• Members of the Yakima Herald-Republic editorial board are Sharon J. Prill, Bob Crider, Frank Purdy and Karen Troianello.