St. Ignatius School Board: Six candidates on ballot

Apr. 25—In School District 28, six candidates are competing for two three-year terms. The ballot includes incumbent Jeff Evans, Rochelle Groom, Tim Marchant, Peter Matt, Darren Orr and Rhianna Rhukala.

The St. Ignatius Federation of Teachers sent out candidate questionnaires, and some of the information in these profiles was gleaned from those responses. To read the complete surveys, submitted by five of the six candidates, visit

Rochelle Groom had not responded to either information request prior to press time.

Jeff Evans

Current board chair Jeff Evans has served four terms on the St. Ignatius School Board, which he says has given him "a full understanding of our curriculum, finances, policies and programs."

He's running for a fifth term "to help continue our outstanding service to the students, faculty, administration and community at St. Ignatius."

Evans and his family have lived in St. Ignatius for 30 years, their third child graduates this year, and three grandchildren currently are enrolled in the district.

If reelected, his priorities include continuing "to align our schools to better serve kids. In doing so we need to ensure financial stability and foster an environment of continuous improvement."

He believes it's important to address continuing drops in math test scores, align the curriculum to help students achieve success, and better prepare students for life after graduation.

"I also would like to help provide the best teachers and classified staff available, along with the excellent facilities our students deserve."

Tim Marchant

Marchant retired last June after 35 years as a certified teacher, with 32 of those spent teaching language arts and English to grades 9-12 at St. Ignatius High School. His children are graduates of Mission schools and his grandchildren are beginning their education there.

During the past year, he's worked as a substitute teacher in the elementary school.

His priorities include increasing enrollment in St. Ignatius schools by focusing on technical and career-based learning, work-based

educational experiences, early literacy intervention, and Native language immersion programs.

He also advocates protecting and increasing teacher starting salaries as "an integral part of enrollment growth."

"Teachers are responsible for information and experiences delivered to students," he writes. "They are the first line in exposing students to a sophisticated and diverse education."

He also mentions the importance of maintaining a safe school environment.

If elected, he hopes "to help continue our outstanding service to the students, faculty, administration, and the community" and to provide "the best teachers and classified staff available, along with the excellent facilities our students deserve."

Rhianna Ruhkala

As a parent of St. Ignatius students, Rhukala believes school boards are an integral part of the communities they serve. She writes that she's running for the board "so that I may be a positive, practical, and effective liaison between our community and our school system."

Her career experience has focused on finance and general business, and she's worked at a management level in both arenas. She lists a skill set that includes leadership, communication and technical/digital expertise.

Rhukala writes that her professional and personal experience support "team-oriented committees" such as the school board, and promises to contribute "a sound, focused, and respectful energy to the board and associated committees."

Challenges facing the district include hiring and retaining high caliber staff and sustaining student enrollment, and looks forward to working with the board to address both issues, as well as the overall goal of providing a quality education with limited resources.

"It takes a cohesive, dynamic and genuine team to provide solutions geared toward our philosophy of education, and ultimately in the best interest of our students."

Darren Orr (profile from teachers' survey)

Orr grew up in Mission and graduated from St. Ignatius schools, as did his three children, including his youngest, who is still in school there. He's a member of the Booster Club and Chamber of Commerce, has been a scout leader, and coached soccer and t-ball.

He writes that key issues facing the district include "keeping up with all the new technology coming out, making sure we can pay staff what they need to make it in today's economy, as well as having the materials and tools to be successful teachers."

If faced with budget cuts, Orr writes that his priority is education. "But finding creative ways to educate, or finding more grants to help with the budget are important and should be stressed.

"Staff have to have what they need to do their jobs, and students need to have the materials available to get the best education they can."

Peter Matt (from teachers' survey)

Matt and his wife are St. Ignatius alums, his wife is currently student teaching at St.Ignatius Elementary, and two of their children attend school in the district. Matt previously served on the District 28 school board for 15 years.

If elected, his priorities for the district include "employing and retaining the best available

teachers and staff. I feel it is also important to offer a fair competitive wage to accomplish this."

He advocates "success at all levels, creating and maintaining a district that offers the best education, facilities, extra curricular, and employment experiences possible," and building and maintaining "something our community is proud of and cares for."