School board incumbent sole candidate for Zone 2
William Johnston is running unopposed for the Zone 2 position on the Estacada School Board in the May 21 election. Johnston has held the position since December 2018, when he was appointed by his fellow board members after the seat became vacant.
Johnston has lived in Estacada since 2013 and has three children at River Mill Elementary School. He is the vice president of K12 Inc., which manages public charter schools throughout the country.
The Estacada News spoke to Johnston about his background, goals for the school district and several other topics. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Estacada News: Why are you running for school board?
William Johnston: In my current role, I help school boards throughout the country. I have the ability to help other members. I can put it in jargon other board members can understand. I want to integrate my family into the community and help out any way we can. We enjoy living here and love the school system.
EN: If elected, what do you hope the board accomplishes during your tenure?
Johnston: We have priorities through the strategic plan. In my own view, we need some major improvements for the district as we're a growing community. We need structural and infrastructure improvements. If that means going to the point of needing a bond, I want to work with the school board and community to determine the appropriate bond amount and goal, if the board wants to move forward with it as a group.
There's subsets of our populations and areas that are not as engaged. Another one of my goals is to engage these communities, and make sure they understand the direction of the school district.
I'd also like to see more integration with youth and high school sports. Our athletic director does a great job now, and I want to be sure we keep that up.
EN: Describe an area in which the school district does well, and describe an area where you would like to see improvement.
Johnston: All school leaders are really there for the right reasons, and they're strong in what they do. It's really an asset for our community.
(In terms of improvements,) the facilities. There are a lot of upgrades that could be made.
EN: Estacada High School had a graduation rate of 80.9 percent last year. How can the school district continue to improve graduation rates?
Johnston: That's a wonderful number, but I don't want to stop there. That's great we've done it because we'll need to utilize those strategies to get to the next step. (School staff are) tracking data, making changes and (helping) students with social, emotional, academic, whatever the hierarchy of needs
EN: How should the school board encourage students to remain engaged with their education?
Johnston: We need to be sure to engage families, and provide the superintendent with opportunities to be creative in how he interacts with the community. Facebook Live is one step. We need to let leaders be creative and support that creativity, even if it's something completely unfamiliar to us.
EN: What's something else you want voters to know about you?
Johnston: I'm new to this community, so I think that provides a great perspective to be open to creativity from school leaders and community members.
During the next several weeks, the Estacada News will feature interviews with all candidates running for school board in the May 21 election. William Johnston is running for Zone 2; Jamie Smith is running for Zone 3; Ben Wheeler, Joseph Wilson, and Keith Rex are running for Zone 6, and Ken Riedel is running for Zone 7.