I’m voting for Aras
The Bellevue School District has always proclaimed a mission of providing each and every student with the foundation for learning and life. To that end, over the decades, each administration, with the enthusiastic support of successive boards, has developed and resourced programs to meet the academic and developmental needs of all students. Those are lofty goals. They require constant attention to needs, evaluation of results and awareness of the demands which an ever-changing world will make on our students.
I believe Jane Aras is uniquely suited and especially skilled, personally and professionally, to join the Bellevue School Board in this work. As a child, she immigrated here from South Korea, navigating language, culture and race in her new country. As a parent she has had three children in the Bellevue schools. As a professional educator, her experience has included working with students from varied backgrounds and abilities. As a special education teacher in both the Renton and the Bellevue districts, she has acquired particular insight into what it takes to meet the needs of each and every student.
I served on the Bellevue School Board for 14 years and considered it a great privilege to work with extraordinary administrations and dedicated board members. I believe school board positions should be hotly contested and coveted. I would hope that many qualified candidates would appear at each election cycle, recognizing the significance of such a position for our community. In that spirit, I am choosing to vote for Jane Aras who I believe will bring enormous experience and passion to this job. I am confident the Bellevue School District staff, students and families will be well served by her election.
I support retaining Dr. Francine Wiest, who has brought extensive leadership, commitment to our public schools, relevant work/volunteer experience, and a deep personal perspective to her role as Bellevue School Board director.
The current school board is composed of a former teacher, lawyer, researcher, community advocate, and Francine’s additional perspectives as a physician and management consultant. Francine recognizes the important balance of academics with emotional well-being for a whole child approach, promoting goals and plans that foster success and produce results. Her 25 years of nonprofit board and education policy committee leadership is unmatched. And, just as importantly, in the call for a diverse board, her lived experience makes her the right choice.
As our district grows increasingly diverse, we need leaders like Francine who understand what students and families from all walks of life face. Her journey includes spending her formative years in a socio-economically and racially diverse prison town as the multiracial daughter of low-income immigrants, working her way through college and medical school, devoting her time to under-served communities, and making a positive impact. She consistently reaches out to listen to voices that are not usually at the table but for whom the system must work. Francine demonstrates her commitment through verifiable actions: she is the only candidate for Position 5 completely invested in public education, proudly sending all her children to Bellevue public schools for their education and voting for public education funding. Francine serves to ensure that we maintain and increase our district’s strengths while overcoming the challenges.
Francine is endorsed by current and former board directors because they recognize her contributions, work well together, and are propelling our district forward with a strong commitment to growth and learning for all students. We are fortunate to have an experienced leader in Francine serving our community.
Looking at process
In 2014 Bellevue announced plans permanently locating the emergency men’s shelter. Sound Transit had displaced the night shelter, and the day shelter location was sold.
In August 2016 surprise announcement, the shelter was to be built at King County Health by Congregations for the Homeless. The process that followed divided those wanting to understand the plan and those long aware of the planning — anger for lack of inclusion and depth vs. anger over urgency for a long-awaited plan.
At the same time, King County plans for shelters and safe-injection-sites blurred Bellevue’s role and heightened concerns of spreading broken policies from Seattle. Councilmember Lynne Robinson spurred the council’s agreement on a human- and health-centered facility. Councilmember Jennifer Robertson did the same to respond swiftly to the safe-injection-sites. By Summer 2017, as Councilmember Wallace and Deputy Mayor Chelminiak debated locations, it was clear: focusing on site was the wrong process.
In 2018, now Mayor Chelminiak focused the council on conditions which any site could be assessed. Unlike the previous discussion, the city feed citizen’s testimony into process and code. The council remains united on the need for permanently-located shelter and services.
The Sophia Way’s Kirkland location included several churches and organizations, including the organizational capacity and experience in creating new shelters. The process was more transparent, earlier and better handled. By contrast, CFH is in new territory: building a year-round location with services.
Councilmember Robertson led the funding of a year-round shelter. Wallace, business leaders, and CFH joined make the current and future site work. Citizens await work to start on the process. Bellevue will change course if the process is not working but will change course together with intentionality.