Following is a Q-and-A conducted with Erin Gudge, candidate for the Philomath School Board’s Position 4 seat. Gudge is running unopposed. Another candidate, Joey McGlinchy, appears on the ballot but is withdrawing his name from consideration because of a pending move out of the state.
Q: What is your primary motivation for running for a school board position?
GUDGE: The school district has served my family for the past 15 years. While I have given my time through volunteering since my first child entered kindergarten in 2006, I can be of greater service to the district as a member of the board. I pursued an advanced degree for the specific purpose of honing my abilities to lead and make positive change in the world. I look forward to serving this district for the next four years.
Q: As a board member, where would you look to make budget cuts and are there any areas you would not consider cutting?
GUDGE: I have reviewed the current budget and attended online school board budget discussions. However, fully understanding the budgetary requirements for our district will require an immersive experience. I have a flexible mindset about budgetary needs. Staff support and continuing professional development regarding emerging technology will be a focus, as well facility needs for HVAC quality measures responding to COVID-19. I strive to be a good financial steward and will look to affect sustainable change while maintaining the highest of standards. I have a successful professional record of finding creative solutions to cut spending while retaining quality.
Q: What do you see as our district’s current strengths and weaknesses?
GUDGE: The community of people — staff, volunteers, students, community members at large — are our district’s greatest strength. Every time I have walked into a packed auditorium or a stadium of people cheering, I have felt that sense of community. The weaknesses are the same as any organization — a large ship is slow to turn. I have been impressed by the ability our district has shown to pivot from the classroom to online learning and back again, but this pandemic has continuing challenges. I look forward to seeing improvement in expanded access to technology for all students in our district.
Q: What do you believe are the main opportunities that the Philomath School District has in order to better serve its students and their families?
GUDGE: The district can model resilience in action. Having a growth mindset positively modeled in real life is the best example our students can have. Our district employees have proven they can adapt to the needs of the student population and their families. The past 16-plus months have been devastating to the entire world. One of the things I often mention about our district is the counseling staff and support for students’ health and well-being that are in place in Philomath. Having this strong foundation in place is a big opportunity to help give our students relief and healing.
Q: What do you see as the major issues facing the school district in the next four years?
GUDGE: We know it will take time to get students caught up post-pandemic. We need to ensure that the students and employees feel safe and supported. We need to make sure that access to mental health supports are available. We need to ensure our students have equitable access to education and resources. The community is going through a population growth, with potential growth in enrollment. Classroom sizes and staffing are foreseeable issues. Keeping class sizes low is important to the sense of safety and security a student has, as well as the equity of the education.
Q-AND-A WITH THE CANDIDATES The Philomath News sent each candidate five questions as part of a Q-and-A feature. Each candidate was limited to 100-word answers on each question.
Click on the links below to read the Q-and-A features for each School Board seat up for election:
POSITION 1: RICK WELLS POSITION 3: JOE DEALY, BRITTANY KENNEDY, ABIGAIL KURFMAN POSITION 4: ERIN GUDGE, JOEY McGLINCHY Note: McGlinchy’s name appears on the ballot but he has withdrawn from consideration.