Mark Stuart to join Lake Washington School Board

June 2, 2013

By Ari Cetron

New: June 2, 3:16 p.m.

As the only candidate to file for the seat being vacated by retiring Lake Washington School Board Member Doug Eglington, Mark Stuart seems a shoo-in to join the board after the November election.

Stuart, 56, lives in Redmond. He has a child at Redmond High school and another at Redmond Middle School.

The family moved to Redmond from Oklahoma in 2006. His youngest is autistic and has a service animal that attends class along with him. His experience with bringing the animal into class was one of the factors motivating Stuart to run for office, he said.

Either he or his wife spend time in class with their son each day, and helping to care for the dog, Curley.

“We get to see, day-in, day-out, of the struggle teachers have,” Stuart said. “We’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly.”

While he said he’s had some great experiences with the district, other times, he thought there were communication problems.

“Some folks want to talk at each other instead of talking with each other,” he said.

Stuart was unclear on the implications of the McCleary decision, the state Supreme Court ruling that the Legislature was not providing sufficient funding to education. But he did say the lack of adequate state funding was probably the top issue facing the district. He was unsure what could be done from the school board level.

“I don’t think I, or anyone else, knows,” he said.

He also said he’d like to shake up the way the district operates sometimes. He said he often finds school officials unwilling to experiment with new techniques, simply because they haven’t done them before.

“You’ve got to be open to ideas,” he said. “Let’s not look in the rear view.”

Stuart said the district operates under a policy governance model, and the School Board sets broad policy goals, and generally leaves it to the administration to find ways to implement those goals. Stuart suggested he may want to take a more hands-on approach, including things like naming specific programs he’d like to see implemented, such as one where children read to dogs to build their confidence.

He also said he’d like to hear from not just parents, but possibly teachers directly.

“You set policy, but you’ve got to have an open door,” Stuart said.

Stuart works as a public relations consultant. He’s never held elected office. However, he was appointed to the Transportation Commission in Buffalo Grove, Ill. In 2008, he was elected as a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Convention.

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