Two running unopposed for open spots on board

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: April 22. 2007 5:00AM PST

As the parents of current and former students in the Crook County School District, the unopposed candidates for two different school board positions say they want to focus on strengthening the curriculum and engaging students.

Steve Caraway, of Prineville, is running unopposed for a third four-year term on the board. Caraway, 54, represents Zone 1 on the board, which mainly covers the northwest corner of Prineville and Crook County.

In Zone 3, the southeast part of the city and county, Jeff Landaker is also running unopposed to fill out the last two years of Runinda McCormack’s term. McCormack, who was appointed to the board in 2005, decided to step down this year.

Landaker, 40, is currently the chairman of the school district’s facilities committee that is reviewing options for the district’s overcrowded school buildings.

Crook County, which currently has about 3,100 enrolled students, is facing challenges in the future as the area continues to grow in population.

The school board positions are unpaid. There are four zoned positions and one at-large.

Steve Caraway

Caraway described himself as a “Prineville boy.” He graduated from Crook County High School.

He now he works for Les Schwab Tire Centers. And he has two children who have gone through the Crook County school system and a daughter who is a senior at the high school.

He attended Ochoco Elementary School then moved to other areas of Oregon because of his father’s work, before returning to Prineville for his junior year of high school.

Although his youngest child is almost finished with secondary education, Caraway said his main priority in his next term on the school board would be making sure that students at the elementary level don’t “slip through the cracks.”

“I still think that the Number One goal for me is children, basically kindergarten through (grade) five,” he said. “It’s important that those kids, you start them early (and) build a solid foundation for them to be successful in middle school and high school.”

Caraway said that, after his first term on the school board, he decided not to run again in 2003. But he received enough write-in votes that he served another term.

He characterized his role on the school board as “a listener.”

“If I think that we’re headed in a wrong direction, I’ll discuss it with our superintendent and also with our board members, but I’m not really an outspoken type of individual,” he said. “I like to listen, take it in and then see what direction we need to go with it.”

Jeff Landaker

Landaker has lived in Crook County for about five years, but he has quickly become involved in many different aspects of the school system.

In addition to having a son and daughter who attend Cecil Sly Elementary School, he is the chairman of the school district’s facilities committee and an active member of the Cecil Sly Parent Teacher Organization. He is also involved with the Crook County Schools Foundation, which does fundraising for educational programs in the schools.

“I started getting involved five years ago, wanting to understand the school system (and) how it works when we moved to the community,” Landaker said. “With that, I started understanding how everything is connected in the community, the school system, the city government, the county government and in particular the businesses.”

Landaker, who lives in Post, a small town southeast of Prineville, said the two main challenges for the school district right now are putting more emphasis on curriculum standards and post-secondary education, as well as dealing with growth and development in the county.

“With the changes coming to our community, the lack of facilities as far as the 21st century, being able to provide an education to our kids that is at the level of the 21st century (is a challenge),” he said. “Our schools, a lot of them are outdated and they’re overcrowded.”

He added that the thinks the goal for the county should be to make its curriculum and graduation benchmarks more rigorous than the state’s requirements.

“I would like to see … at the minimum, all kids exceed the standards for what the state sets down,” he said. “I want to set a higher standard for our kids in Crook County, not just to meet but to exceed.”

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