They speak to their values, priorities
LYNDEN — Position 1 on the Lynden School Board is up for election this fall, with Jason Swendt seeking the spot held by CJ Costanti since December 2017. The position is a four-year term.
Costanti said the board covers a lot of ground every month, but that he gravitates toward its growth and communication concerns, specifically.
“I’m excited by our efforts to continue to reach out beyond our parents and families and let the greater community know what is going on in their public schools,” Costanti said. “Our schools are integral to our city and I want to help us be even more open and accessible in order to achieve our goal of producing true college, career and citizenship-ready graduates for everyone in Lynden and beyond.”
He said the current population of the school system including teachers, students and staff is about the same as Lynden’s entire population when Lynden High School was built in 1980.
“We’ve seen the strain this puts on other city services and we’re seeing it in schools, and not just classrooms — space is critical in cafeterias, music rooms, gyms, hallways and bathrooms,” Costanti said. “We are going to make some big decisions and big asks in the next few years and I’m very excited about the opportunities we have ahead.”
Costanti had these comments by email:
“I am a current school board member and look forward to continuing [to help] our schools in this role. I’ve really enjoyed the last two years since being chosen to fill an open board position and I’ve learned a great deal about the work that goes into our schools every day. Prior to the board position, I volunteered on two district facilities committees and was co-chair for our most recent bond campaign for the new Fisher Elementary and Lynden Middle School.”
Interest in running
“Honestly, the people and schools of Lynden gave me a lot while growing up here. It’s my turn to give back. I see lots of familiar faces every time we drop our kids at school and I’ve also met lots of great families new to Lynden. I want all of our kids to have the same opportunities we had and more. While the classroom is our ultimate focus, I’ve learned a ton about the other critical parts that help make us successful, everything from our facilities, educational programs and curriculum to personnel, funding and services. We have an effective and open and motivated board that I’ve really enjoyed working with to date. I’d love to build on what I've learned and help make us even better.”
Other things to touch on
“I’d like to thank our entire district staff for the work they do day in and day out. Also, thanks to my fellow board members for putting their trust in me and allowing me to contribute to our schools. Special thanks to our amazing Lynden community and the support they continually give us. Great graduates benefit everyone. We’d love your continued support and trust and I, for one, will do my utmost best to earn it every day.”
Swendt, a 1991 Sehome High School graduate, has lived in Lynden for 16 years and said he wants the schools to provide physically and emotionally safe places for all students.
He said something he would like to focus on if elected to the board is dealing with bullying in schools and that student and teacher safety should be the highest priority.
“Anybody that watches the evening news knows that this is an epidemic,” Swendt said. “The effects directly impacted our community in 2017 when a student took their own life, partly because of bullying. The school district needs a comprehensive approach to this issue that includes proactive and reactive measures.”
In addition, drug and alcohol abuse is another other topic he said he is passionate about within the district.
“There are many successful programs available for people of all ages that greatly reduce the abuse of drugs and alcohol in individuals,” Swendt said. “The focus should be in elementary schools where children are more likely to be receptive to the facts and less likely to be pressured by their peers.”
Student homelessness is also something Swendt would look into if elected.
“There are a surprising amount of children in our schools that have less than ideal living situations,” he said. “In the last 10 years, student homelessness has increased by almost 80 percent. This is occurring in our community and we need to address it.”
Swendt had these comments by email:
“[I have] 10 years as a safety leader with Alcoa aluminum corporation and seven years on the Whatcom-Skagit-Island football officials board.”
Other things to touch on
“As a society, we are doing a disservice to our children and teachers by providing them with less than adequate resources and educational environments. We need a change, we need to shift directions and constantly remind ourselves what this process is all about: preparing our children for their futures.”