By Polly Keary, Editor
The makeup of the Monroe School Board will take a significant change when two of its most senior members are replaced by freshman next year.
Of three longtime school board members Greg Accetturo, Jim Scott and Tom McIntyre, only Jim Scott decided to run for reelection this year.
As no one stepped up to run against him, and as only one candidate stepped for each of the two seats being vacated by McIntyre and Accetturo, the three candidates face no opposition for their seats and will take office next year.
The three incoming school board members are Jim Scott, Darcy Cheesman and Jason Hutchinson.
Jason Hutchinson, 41, has lived in Monroe for 10 years. His wife teaches first grade at Salem Woods Elementary and has been with the district for 16 years. Hutchinson will take the seat representing much of the area north of Monroe.
“I’ve been on the Monroe Public Schools Foundation board for six years and I’m the sitting president,” he said. “I’ve been very involved with the schools because of that.”
Tom McIntyre, who had been the senior member of the board with 18 years of service, is a neighbor to Hutchinson, who promised the board member that he would never run against him. When McIntyre stepped away, Hutchinson took the opportunity to step forward.
Hutchinson said he hopes to help improve the public perception of the school district.
“I think there’s a perception our school district is not what Snohomish or Northshore is,” he said. “Test scores are widely used for a measurement, but I’ve seen the other side of it. I’ve seen students get scholarships to Yale and Dartmouth and Brown…I feel like, in the last eight to 10 years, we’ve gotten a bad rap and sometimes I think it’s probably fair and I think most of the time it’s not and I’m hoping to change the culture.”
Darcy Cheesman, 44, who is taking the seat being vacated by Greg Accetturo representing the Ben Howard Road area, has not held office before but is familiar with civic life. She works part-time at the city of Monroe as a records officer. She also has experience as an office manager and holds a degree in public relations, with minors in political science and women’s studies.
Her oldest child, 22, graduated from Monroe and her youngest is a junior.
She became interested in the school board after educating her own daughter, she said.
“I’ve always had an interest in education,” she said. “We homeschooled through middle school through Sky Valley Education Center, and it was fascinating to learn how my daughter takes in information. That got me very interested.”
Her main goal is to increase community involvement in the schools, she said.
She, too, is happy with the direction the district has taken.
“I think right now the school board is doing a great job,” she said. “My daughter is having a wonderful time in the school and she’s getting a fantastic education.”
Jim Scott, 63, is returning for his third four-year term.
He initially ran to help the district choose a replacement for outgoing superintendent Bill Prenevost.
Scott, too, would like to get the community more involved and invested in the district.
“We haven’t had a bond issue in 10 years,” he said “We have schools that are decrepit. By the time kids are traveling to other schools, the kids see what the community thinks of them. You can’t hide it from the kids. They know.”
Currently the district staff has started a citizens’ committee to help identify the most pressing needs of the district. More volunteers are need, Scott noted.
He said losing Accetturo and McIntyre is a blow.
“Tom’s impossible to replace,” he said. “He’s been doing this almost 18 years. And Greg has been one of the guys that focused on the numbers, and he asks detailed questions about things. He’s really consistent.”
Accetturo brought political balance to the board, too, he said.
“He’s a conservative Republican and you need that kind of balance,” he said. “We need to be centrist. I fully recognize that, even I thought I do tend to be a progressive.”
He said he is pleased by the mix the new board members will bring, noting that Cheesman is also conservative.
With the departure of the more senior members, Scott will now be the most senior member of the school board.
“Hopefully I will be able to fill that role well,” he said. “I think I will be able to.”
Scott said that he is very optimistic about the district’s future.
“I think in 10 years we could be one of the best schools in the state, instead of one of the middle ones,” he said. “We are good, heading for great.”
The other two school board members are Nancy Truitt Pierce and Katy Woods.