Three seeking seat on Bellevue School Board

The Bellevue School District continued the process of choosing a candidate to fill the vacant position on its board of directors Tuesday when the three finalists made their public pitches.

The school board interviewed Christine Chew, Sharon Taubel and Alexa Tigre on Wednesday and will decide who should fill the District 2 position in the coming weeks.

The winning applicant will replace former Board President Peter Bentley, who retired in June after 13 years on the board.

The candidates declared their interest in the job through applications that are available on the district's website,

Each candidate brings a diverse background to contribute to the Bellevue education system.

Chew is a former Microsoft employee and high school science teacher. She serves as the executive director of Seattle-based College Access Now, a non-profit organization that works with underprivileged students to help them prepare for entrance exams, gain admission to college and locate sources of financial aid.

Chew told the board she wants to advocate for education on all levels.

"Education is my deepest passion," she said. "Education is also at the heart of my deepest experiences. I also believe that education is one of the most critical services our community provides."

Taubel has seen the issues of the Bellevue School District first hand. She decided to apply for the position because she wants to see the board focus on the equity gap, to acknowledge that factors outside the classroom like socio-economic status can influence students and need to receive more district consideration.

Taubel, who serves as the local Parent Teacher Association legislative chair, said she can give a voice to those in a difficult socio-economic situation trying to keep up with their classmates.

"I don't see my demographic represented on the school board, and I want to change this," she said. "Who knows how many of our kids will actually be able to afford to go to college? Unless we change that mindset, that glass ceiling, anything else we do isn't going to make the difference it needs to."

Tigre, who received a masters in education at the University of Washington, said she always has been interested in the policy side of education. She has worked on many school funding initiatives and would like to transition into making policy. Tigre believes her mixed background, which includes both teaching and fundraising, will bring the board a unique element.

"I would love to be a part of the Bellevue School Board because I feel I have so many pieces that tie together; the school piece, the policy piece and the advocacy piece."

The person appointed will stand for election in the November 2011 election when the position comes up for vote. Each of the three candidates said in their applications they would run again once the term expired.

Bentley was the second school board director to resign this year. Judy Bushnell left her post and was replaced by Betsy Johnson, former president of the Bellevue Schools Foundation.

Nat Levy can be reached at 425-453-4290.

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