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Challenger endorses incumbent in race

The challenger is endorsing the incumbent in the May 16 election for Position 3 on the Phoenix-Talent School Board.

Newcomer Sarah Wright filed to run against Marina Piacentini on the last day filings were accepted for the four-year seat. After talking subsequently with Piacentini, Wright decided she would not actively campaign for the seat. She wanted to withdraw, but the last day to do so is also the last day to file.

“We have a lot of the same ideas,” said Wright. “She sounds like she has a really good idea of where she would like to go. She seems really passionate about the position and the School Board. I agree with a lot of things she said.”

Piacentini has served on the board since 2011. The district faces a projected $1.6 million to $2 million revenue shortfall in the coming year. Increasing class sizes, staff layoffs, not filling vacancies and possible cuts in teaching days are being considered to address the shortfall.

“I absolutely support Superintendent Teresa Sayre and (incoming Superintendent) Brent Barry in their thoughts and process,” said Piacentini. “Every choice they have to make is incredibly hard. We have big expenses with PERS and insurance. We have to cut our beginning and ending school budgets as far as we can go with them.”

Piacentini works in special education programs for the Jackson County ESD. In June she will begin a one-year master’s in teaching program at Southern Oregon University. She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from SOU.

A general obligation bond vote to fund capital improvements has been discussed by the School Board. Piacentini said she is withholding judgment on how to proceed until a committee completes its work on a possible measure.

“We have capital improvements that we need to be investing in, whether it’s this year or next year or in the next three years. We have to look at those,” said Piacentini.

Wright said she had been on the fence about filing but was encouraged by friends and family. She has a background in both public and private arts education and is an assistant with the Rogue Valley Manor Foundation. She is in her last term of studies at Southern Oregon University, where she will receive a bachelor’s in theater arts.

Three other incumbents are unopposed for election to four-year terms. Sara Crawford has filed for Position 1; Shana Vos for Position 6, and Craig Prewitt for Position 7.

— Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.