Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Cashmere School District School Board Member

Q&A with Sara Pipkin



Q Please briefly introduce yourself and tell our readers why you are running for a seat on the Cashmere School District school board.

My name is Sara Pipkin. I grew up in Omak, WA and moved to Cashmere 17 years ago after meeting my husband, Nick. Nick graduated from Cashmere and we have 3 children in the School District. I am running for School Board because our family is committed to Cashmere and we want to support the continued success of both our schools and community.

Q What professional or personal experiences and qualifications make you a suitable candidate for this role, and how do they relate to education and the school district's needs?

Professionally, I maintain my CPA and CMA designations and have worked in both private and public accounting since 2006. I believe this experience has prepared me to ask difficult questions when needed, research, and consider all perspectives, to ensure informed decisions are made. This experience also lends itself well to the financial and budgetary responsibility of the School Board Members. I am hands on in our community and schools as a volunteer which makes me accessible, approachable, and ready to listen.

Q What do you see as the top three educational priorities for the Cashmere School District, and how do you plan to address them if elected?

The Cashmere School District education systems are strong now and we must maintain our focus on excellence and developing our children into young adults who can establish meaningful connections in their communities and make positive contributions to society. We cannot yield to pressure to lower our high standards or expectations for our students or staff. That should be our educational priority. I am committed to ensuring that Cashmere continues to evaluate and implement educational best practices and I will push for continuous improvement and quality throughout the education systems.

Q School budgets are a critical aspect of a school board's responsibility. How do you propose ensuring responsible financial management while maintaining educational excellence?

As a School Board Member our priority is education, but we are also responsible for ensuring that the school district’s budget is properly utilized, and that spending is meaningful and necessary. As an Accountant by trade, I recognize the importance of a budget as a planning tool and believe that it must be continually evaluated as circumstances change throughout the year. I will take the time to review this information, ask questions, offer suggestions, and ensure accountability. Budget dollars are limited and must be used to make the most impact for all stakeholders.

Q How do you plan to actively engage with the Cashmere community and solicit input from parents, teachers, and other stakeholders to make informed decisions?

As previously mentioned, I am present in the community and feel that this makes me accessible to listen to the needs of all stakeholders. Communication amongst all parties will be the key to continued success and improvement of the school district. As a school board member, I hope to facilitate better communication and be a catalyst for information sharing. By listening to others and hearing multiple perspectives I recognize that this is an invaluable component of making informed and well-rounded decisions.

Q In an increasingly digital world, how do you propose integrating technology into the classroom to enhance learning while addressing potential challenges?

I believe that technology should be used as a tool for enhancing the education of our students and should not be used as a replacement for teachers. I would push to see technology skills taught that will be used by students once they graduate. I am not in favor of technology being used as a time-filler in the classroom or as a reward for performance in the classroom. As a school board member, this is an area I would like to become more familiar with before encouraging improvements.

Q What steps will you take to promote equity and inclusivity in the Cashmere School District, ensuring all students have equal access to a quality education?

As a school district we should work to identify and address gaps in our system that would prevent students from having equal access to education. Our administrators are committed to quality education for all students, and I would be there to support their needs and hold them accountable to their commitments.

Q How do you plan to support and retain high-quality teachers and staff within the district?

One of the primary ways that we can all help support and retain high quality teachers in the Cashmere School district is by encouraging and insisting on parental engagement. We, as parents, need to recognize that we play a vital role in our children’s success both inside and outside of school. Our teachers and administrators primary role are to educate our kids, not raise our kids. If parents take ownership for raising responsible and respectful kids, this will take a lot of burden off teachers and administrators and allow them to focus on teaching our kids core academics and enrichment.

I also feel that I could be a channel for teachers to express the challenges they face as teachers and help them direct improvement. We can retain great teachers and staff by listening to their needs and facilitating an environment where they can do their best work!

Q Reflecting on the recent pandemic, what lessons have been learned, and how will you apply them to improve the district's response to future challenges?

Cashmere School District did a remarkable job of being flexible and adapting to change, all while keeping kids as their top priority. As a community, we saw our administration demonstrate their commitment to our kids and this should give us comfort that when the next challenge arises – they will step up to the plate and fight for solutions that are aligned with the traditions and values of the community of Cashmere.

Q What is your long-term vision for the Cashmere School District, and how do you intend to work with other school board members and administration to achieve it?

My vision is that the Cashmere School Districts would continue working hard to maintain a reputation of excellence. I am passionate about the values and traditions that make Cashmere special and will work alongside administration to uphold those for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Q School board members often must collaborate with other board members and district staff. How do you plan to foster a spirit of cooperation and teamwork?

I believe that board members and district staff must work as a team. This does not mean that we will always be aligned in our beliefs, but that we trust and respect each other’s knowledge and perspective enough to work cooperatively together for the benefit of our kids and community.

Q How will you ensure accountability and transparency in decision-making processes within the school board?

Transparency and accountability are the cornerstones to effective decision making. As a school board team, we must communicate clearly and openly amongst ourselves, but more importantly with all stakeholders. Accountability is the factor that holds us all true to our words and actions. Accountability is crucial as a board member to ensure we are both taking and following through with actions committed to for the betterment of the student population. We need to make informed decisions and be confident that the actions committed will be completed as agreed. I have always strived to make informed decisions, and if that means that I need to ask difficult or direct questions, I will. I am a firm believer in accountability, and I will expect to be held accountable, as well as to hold my peers and others accountable to their words and actions.

Q In a few sentences, please summarize why voters should choose you as their representative on the Cashmere School District school board.

I want Cashmere voters to know that I am passionate about continuing Cashmere’s reputation for excellence. I truly believe in the Cashmere School District and its commitment to all kids. I feel strongly that public schools are foundational to society and like any other aspect of our lives we will get out of it what we put in. I am ready to dedicate the time and hard work needed to elevate the high standards and traditions that make Cashmere special. I would be honored to serve our community and feel my motivation, desire to uphold values, and work experience make me qualified to support Cashmere School District as a Board Member.

These questions should provide a comprehensive view of your platform and vision for the Cashmere School District, allowing our readers to make informed decisions in the upcoming election.


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