Tracey Malone joined the Camas School Board in 2017, and is seeking re-election this November in District 5. Lacamas Magazine asked her, along with the other incumbent school board members, several questions. Here are her answers.
Why are you running for school board?
I was born and raised in Camas and graduated from Camas High School along with my two sisters. My parents chose Camas for the schools, and I have chosen the same for my family. My daughter graduated from CHS in 2022 and my son is currently a Junior at CHS. I purposely chose to live here and have my own children attend Camas Schools to receive the same outstanding education that I did. I deeply care about Camas, the Camas School District and the education provided to all of our students. I am a champion for programs that prepare our graduates for whatever path they chose after high school.
What are your priorities, should voters elect you, over the next four years?
- Financial stability
- State and local advocacy
- Student well-being and mental health
The School Board is ultimately responsible for approving budgets. Why do we keep running deficits, and how would you approach the budget should you be re-elected?
With my background as a business owner, and positions on other boards including a local credit union, I am deep into the work of budgets and understanding complex funding models. Our current funding model is not sustainable, and we know we can’t keep running a deficit. We have been losing a portion of our regionalization funding from the State each year, while expenses and cost of living keep going up. We have a plan to bring our expenditures and revenues in line and are committed to doing so. One of the many things that affect our funding is enrollment. Although our enrollment has been increasing almost back to pre-pandemic numbers, birth rates in our area are projected to remain low. Top that off with the high cost of housing in our area making it not ideal for young families to move to our district. We must maintain a balanced budget, without compromising student experiences, while being fiscally responsible with taxpayer money.
Many voters blame the school board for the tone of the recent labor negotiations. They say you set a negative tone and drove a wedge between teachers and parents. How do you respond to that?
The district administration, teachers, and board share the same values and are committed to the same goal: putting students first. Neither side lost sight of that. We learned many things from the recent negotiations, including the need to set some agreed upon guidelines as far as what and how we all are communicating with the community about what is being negotiated. The district and the bargaining groups have already planned meetings to help repair and build better relationships so that moving forward, we can work together on common ground. Our next labor negotiations are only two years away, but the work to get there starts now.
Regarding school safety, would you support more School Resource Officers in our schools? If not, what other things should we do to protect students?
School Safety is a top priority for the district, including our two SRO’s. When we were talking budget cuts last year, I heard loud and clear from many community members the importance of our SRO’s and the need to keep them in our schools. Camas is unique in our relationship we have with the City of Camas. They have stepped up to help ensure we were able to keep both of our SRO’s, understanding the value they bring to our students, staff, and community. SRO’s are certainly an important piece to school safety alongside the many other programs and efforts we currently have in place. One of those is a program called Zero Eyes, which is gun detection software. We are the first district in our area to implement this software. Recently Dr Anzalone shared this with other superintendents and districts in our area and we now have the attention of ESD, who is working on funding and grants to help all schools in our region have access to this type of security measure.
How do you address the growing mental health issues affecting students?
Students across the state are experiencing increased social-emotional and mental health challenges. We know that when students have their mental health and basic needs met, they are better equipped to grow and learn. We must budget our resources and have adequate school counselors and psychologists to provide the mental health supports our students needs.
The school board pushes for equity across the school district. How does equity differ from equality?
Equality means providing the same to all.
Equity means recognizing that we all do not start from the same place and must acknowledge and make adjustments so that all students have what they need to succeed.
What three things do you want to fix in the Camas School District?
Because it is so important to all aspects of our district and affects all areas of our students education experience – State funding needs advocacy and fixing. Camas was a winner in the pre-McCleary funding model. The new prototypical school funding model has created many challenges for us and the supports and academic programs our community is used to having. In addition, the state caps the amount school districts can levy. One of the things we have done recently is create a Legislative Advocacy Committee made up of community members, staff and board members that will work alongside us as we continue to advocate for a funding model that works for Camas students.
What three things is CSD doing correctly?
Our students continue to test well above average compared to the Washington State average and are among the highest in our region.
Attracting and retaining teachers and staff. We are a destination district for employment, and our staff often stay with us for most of their career, which is a benefit to our students.
We work hard to provide ample opportunities and varying committees for our citizens and community members to actively engage in and participate in student experiences.
What are CSD’s strengths?
Camas students, families and community are our biggest strengths. We are a destination not only for our schools but for our community. We have robust education programs, athletics, music, arts, robotics, multiple clubs and three choice high schools for our students. Our state test scores continue to be well ahead of the State averages as well as above our other local districts. I attribute that directly to our teachers, staff, and systems we have in place.
To learn more, visit https://www.camas.wednet.edu/about-csd/school-board/board-members/