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Four run for two seats on Phoenix-Talent School Board

PHOENIX — Three retirees and a church pastor are running for two seats on the Phoenix-Talent School Board in the May 19 election.

Retired teacher and school administrator David Garcia is challenging incumbent Bob Kerlinger, a retired X-ray technician with eight years' experience on the board, for Position 1.

Incumbent Nathan Shinn, a pastor at Ashland Bible Church, will vie for another term in Position 6 against newcomer Steve Schulman, a former council member and retired retail manager.

Incumbents Laura Lotspeich in Position 3 and Craig Prewitt in Position 7 are running unopposed.

All are at-large, four-year terms.

Ballots are due by 8 p.m. May 19 to the Jackson County Elections Office, 1101 W. Main St., Medford. Drop boxes will open May 11 countywide.

Garcia, 62, said he chose to run to help address a funding crisis at the district, which recently announced the elimination of 45 positions next year to balance a $30.4 million budget.

"We're seeing some tough times right now but I think school funding is always an issue," Garcia said. "Some years are worse than others and this year is going to be particularly bad.

"I just want to be sure that there's plenty of integrity in the system and not just squeaky wheels getting greased and politics making the decisions, but that the decisions are the best for the kids and the community."

Kerlinger, 58, said he seeks re-election because he felt the board had done a good job and he wanted to continue to help.

"Given the situation we've got, I believe we've come up with the best solution we can deal with for right now," he said.

"Long term, I personally can't see any specific direction to go just yet with the downturn in the economy and decrease in revenues to the state."

Schulman, 69, said he wanted to ensure that all residents of the district are represented.

"I'm retired now and have the time to give," he said. "I live in a retirement community but we still pay property tax that goes to the school, so I'm trying to represent that group in addition to everybody else.

"I also feel like our kids are getting shortchanged on this whole deal and that nobody is looking out for their interests with all the slicing and dicing of teachers and programs."

Schulman admitted he did not "have all the answers" but said he would "bring some new ideas to the discussion."

"When you've been in any position for any length of time you begin to have almost tunnel vision and focus on the problem in only one direction," he said. "I'm not saying that's bad, but it limits you."

Shinn, 46, a volunteer for athletics programs at Phoenix High School, served two terms on the school board previously.

Shinn said he felt the current board had worked to "do the best they could with what they had" and said he wanted to help the district weather current financial struggles.

"The biggest issue is funding from the state and making do with what they send," Shinn said.

"We've had to make some really tough choices we didn't want to make and we've lost some great people, but we still have got a pretty good program."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.