Four applicants vie for an open school board seat

The district opened the application process following the resignation of a board member.

At its next meeting, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, the school board of Vashon Island School District (VISD) will interview four applicants for an open seat on the board, with the aim of selecting one of the applicants the same evening.

The meeting will take place in person, in Room 302 of Chautauqua Elementary School, and also be streamed live on the district’s YouTube channel.

The district opened the application process following the resignation of board member Kali Aguilera, whose term would have expired in November of 2023.

The applicants include the following islanders:

Lucia Armenta, a childhood educator born and raised in Mexico, moved to the United States in 2000. She has taught in schools in Illinois, Seattle and Vashon, and currently is the small business owner of Spanish4All, which is a play-based, Spanish immersion, outdoor preschool on Vashon.

“I am committed to learning and applying knowledge about how children learn and what are the best practices we can offer to meet their emotional and academic needs,” Armenta told The Beachcomber, in an email. “I’m interested in joining the school board because I want to create stronger ties between the school board and the community.”

Another applicant, Juniper Rogneby, has lived on Vashon since 2012 and has three children who have attended district schools as well as Student Link. Her professional experience has included working as a human resources and operations consultant for a variety of industries in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. She has volunteered for numerous island organizations including the Vashon Food Bank, VIGA’s Food Access Partnership, and the Vashon Green School.

In an email, Rogneby said she would bring “an unwavering commitment to centering a strong racial equity in all facets of VISD policy and budgeting decisions, and that she believes “applying a strong racial equity framework to the work of the school board benefits all students.”

Another applicant, Gavin Watson, described himself as a strong proponent of public education who has lived on Vashon for the past nine years and also has children who attend Vashon public schools.

He currently works as an executive for the Disney Corporation, leading technology initiatives.

In an email, Watson said he applied for the position on the board because he saw it as an opportunity to serve the community during “a time of unprecedented challenges to the school district, including recovering from the impacts of the pandemic on how children learn, attracting and retaining quality faculty and staff, and preparing our kids for the multiple crises they face as citizens of the world, including climate change, the struggle for fairness and equality, and even protecting democracy itself.”

A fourth applicant, Craig Klinkam, has lived on the island since 2017. His son is currently a senior at Vashon High School.

Klinkam has recently retired from a career of more than 30 years, as the owner of his own company, which provided clients with construction management and owner-representative services on commercial and institutional construction projects, including projects for school districts.

Klinkam also has an extensive history as a volunteer, serving as a tutor/mentor in four Seattle public elementary and middle schools on a weekly basis over a 10-year period, and serving two terms on the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity for South King County. He also volunteered to help Vashon establish a hospital district in 2019.

He is currently serving his second term on the board of the Vashon Schools Foundation and participated in VISD’s lengthy strategic planning process last year.

“This, for me, was a powerful experience, and I would like to be part of the VISD that sets out to implement the Vashon Promise,” Klinkam said.