Other races

The following contested ballot races or measures also appear for some Redmond-area residents in the May 21 election.

Measures 9-126 and 9-127 — The measures will add 55 and 19 cents per $1,000 property tax valuation to build and maintain a $40 million Redmond Area Park and Recreation District aquatic center and gymnasium. Read more about it at bit.ly/2YpNMDs.

Two Crooked River Ranch fire board races — Bill Burt vs. Jeff Green for the open Position 3 seat and current board president Bob Bengston faces Mark Wilson, the district’s mechanic, in Position 5.

Ballots can be dropped off until 8 p.m. Tuesday at the drop box outside the Redmond Public Library, 827 SW Deschutes Ave. The county clerk’s office advises against mailing ballots this close to the election.

A recent school board candidate forum was light on questions about Redmond-specific issues. Instead, questions on timely state and nationwide issues like a $2 billion Oregon package to improve K-12 education, school bullying and immunizations came up often.

Incumbent Johnny Corbin, a retired automotive vocational instructor who was elected in 2015, is seeking a second term as Position 5 board member for the Redmond School District. He is being challenged by Liz Goodrich, adult programs coordinator for Deschutes Public Library.

Corbin said his priorities are looking out for the children, as well as taxpayer dollars. He touted that he is often the only “no” in a 4-1 vote. He is a longtime advocate of vocational education, which he said is now coming to fruition.

“I’ve raised some of the serious questions and made them think about the solutions to the different problems and situations that we have to make sure that every student gets the best decision made by our board members,” Corbin told the audience of about 30 people at the May 8 League of Women Voters of Deschutes County event at the Redmond Public Library.

Goodrich is a former English teacher who said she has long been passionate about education. She said she would work with residents and other entities, like the city and library, on improving the schools.

“I think that public entities need to be working together to craft this vision together,” she said. “We can achieve it in a much more efficient and effective way if we are partnering with other groups in town that are working to create Redmond’s future.”

State funding

Goodrich pointed out how she walked with teachers earlier in the day as part of statewide demonstrations for full funding of schools. She said the $2 billion Student Success Act, which would fund education grants through a business activities tax, would help offset some of the damage caused by property tax limitations in Measure 5, which was passed by voters in 1990.

About $6 million of the Student Success Act money would go toward grants in Redmond, according to The Bulletin.

The money would help with reducing class size and improving safety and mental health, as well as bringing back programs like art and music that have been cut, Goodrich said.

“If you haven’t seen the news about the Student Success Act, I encourage you to read up on it, I also encourage you to contact your senators and tell them to come back to the statehouse, do the people’s business and vote,” she said, referring to the recently ended shutdown by Republican senators over the issue. The legislation has since passed both chambers of the Legislature.

Corbin said the bill would put a burden on taxpayers.

“There are many of you, like myself, that are on limited incomes,” he said. “So when you start raising funds on us, we tend to look at it a little bit closer. So we’re basically at the mercy of the state.”

The Oregon Public Employees Retirement System is the “biggest elephant in the room,” Corbin said.

“It’s an unfunded liability that takes a lot of money out of our classroom,” he said. “Who’s responsible for PERS, is our statehouse. They put together a program that benefits the few and really takes it to the rest of the parents, students and taxpayers.”

While she said she is pleased to see fixes made to PERS, Goodrich, a public employee herself, asked how many current and former public workers were in the audience. After a good portion of the audience raised hands, she said public workers have been unfairly criticized. She again put blame on Measure 5 for taking property tax money from the revenue stream.

“What I would challenge people to do when we think about PERS, is to think about the fact that, in Deschutes County, there are over 5,000 retired PERS employees,” she said. “What that means for our economy is $185 million and 1,600 living-wage jobs. PERS employees are not just takers, they are spenders, they buy houses, they purchase things in our economy. That unfunded liability is going to need to be dealt with, but maligning PERS employees past and present is not helpful.”

Safety/health issues

One question where the candidates were in agreement was on a bill that recently passed the state House — but was recently tabled in the Senate — that would have done away with non-medical exemptions for child vaccinations. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend, while Rep. Jack Zika, R-Redmond, voted against it.

“In my opinion, the problem is some of these people who don’t have their children vaccinated are very uninformed on how effective these vaccinations are, and it can present a public health situation that we eradicated many years ago,” Corbin said. “They’re very inconsiderate of the rest of the community and put some of the children at risk by not having them vaccinated like they need to be.”

Goodrich said “agree” five times in a row after Corbin’s statement. In response to a follow-up question about a possible 1,000 students leaving the district if the law goes through, Goodrich said parents of unvaccinated children would still have opportunities through the school and education service districts.

“There’s online schooling and homeschooling, where they do get support from the district,” she said.

To deal with issues like bullying and teen suicide, Goodrich suggested that each school have a nurse, as well as a mental health professional, on staff. They should also have policies enforced that allow no tolerance for bullying, but also allow for bullies to correct their behavior.

“They need to have a chance to correct their behavior and make amends for their behavior,” she said. “Expelling those kids, getting those kids out of the classroom is not going to rehab that bully...restorative justice works, and I think it’s worth trying.”

School staffs need to be better trained on dealing with bullying, Corbin said.

“Currently, we have very few bullyings that come to the board because the staff has been taking care of it,” he said. “Unfortunately, I think one of the biggest causes of bullying is from what happens at home, so the staff has to be aware of that and be able to recognize some of that.”

On the issue of youth suicide, Corbin said the “biggest cause of a lot of this is the press.”

“They take and accentuate all the bad things that go on, and put ideas in some of our youths’ heads that shouldn’t be there,” he said. “However, with that said, we still need to have the information available to those students that are having a problem, to be able to counsel them and try to keep them on the best path possible.”

Along with helping staff, Goodrich said it’s important for students to be able to belong to organizations where they feel they matter.

“I think a hands up in the air and saying we can’t do anything is really a disservice to our young people,” she said.

Other issues

Barely mentioned was the $70 million November school bond that failed narrowly, partly because of strong opposition in Crooked River Ranch. None of the questions, submitted by attendees and League of Women Voters members, asked about it. Corbin brought it up in discussing how he thinks seniors and veterans have been overlooked.

“There’s two big reasons why it failed — the undervote and the ‘no’ vote,” he said. “The ‘no’ vote came from those that are on fixed incomes, and the district did not sell...to those that are on fixed incomes.”

Corbin previously told The Bulletin that he would like to see a slimmed-down bond that focuses on fixing M.A. Lynch Elementary and other capital improvements, while eliminating extras like $2 million for artificial turf fields, brought before voters.

Goodrich told The Bulletin that she would like to see better communication on a future bond. She said people were unaware that projects like artificial turf would only go through if money is left over after the key safety and security projects are taken care of.

Goodrich brought up the disparity in high school graduation rates. While the Redmond Proficiency Academy public charter school graduated 91 percent of students in 2018, Ridgeview graduated 88 percent and Redmond High graduated 75 percent of students, the lowest number in the area.

“I’m curious, why the discrepancy?” she said. “What can the board do to bring those three schools into better alignment?”

One thing the district must do is better meet the needs of students with adverse child experiences like food insecurity and parents in jail, Goodrich said.

“I believe that students deserve schools that prepare them and challenge them for their future,” she said in her closing remarks. “I believe that parents deserve schools that nurture their children. I believe that staff deserve respect and opportunity to develop professionally. And I believe the city if Redmond deserves and engaged school board that is aware of issues facing our town.”

Corbin concluded by saying he wanted to improve three things when he started on the board in 2015 — volunteers, particularly seniors, having the Start Making a Reader Today program district-wide and competitive athletics. He said the only one “the situation” has allowed to improve is athletics, crediting the hiring of Kevin Bryant as athletic director for the entire district, which formerly had separate directors for Redmond and Ridgeview.

“Kevin has really done a great job to help eliminate some of the favoritism, nepotism and the selfishness of some of the coaches,” Corbin said. “The No. 1 reason why competitive athletics fail is because of coaches, where they play kids a certain amount and the rest of ‘em get to sit on the bench, and they get discouraged and quit. We need those programs to be able to accommodate all of our children.”

Position 4 school board member Tim Carpenter is also on the ballot, running unopposed for reelection.

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmondspokesman.com