Peninsula School District board member Deborah Krishnadasan is seeking re-election in November.
Krishnadasan was elected to the school board following the midterm departure of another board member, and served the remaining two years of that member’s term. She is now seeking re-election to serve a full four-year term as director of PSD’s District 2. District 2 encompasses the northern edge of the Key Peninsula and Gig Harbor.
Some of Krishnadasan’s accomplishments from her first term include the board’s decision to hire the new superintendent, one of the board’s primary responsibilities. “The other thing that I think the district did very well is we passed the maintenance and operations levy in 2016,” she said. “That was a very critical levy for our district; it funded 24 percent of basic education.”
Although her 2015 election to the school board was also her first public office, Krishnadasan had been active in education as a parent volunteer. “I was very involved in the schools for about nine years before [being elected], did various volunteer roles, held PTA offices, and worked in the community with athletics,” she said.
As her children grew busier, Krishnadasan considered returning to the workforce, but didn’t want to give up her involvement in education. “I learned the school director position was going to be open and my husband and I thought this would be a great opportunity for me [to] couple my past career experience with my passion for education,” she said. Krishnadasan previously held management positions at Microsoft and Visio, and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Western Washington University in 1990.
One of Krishnadasan’s main concerns as a board member is the population growth in the Peninsula School District and the problems that can accompany it. Some of this growth is occurring in northern Gig Harbor but, according to Krishnadasan, enrollment is also increasing on the Key Peninsula. “Even though you’re not seeing more housing developments, there’s people moving out there,” she said of the KP. “For instance, Minter Creek Elementary had one of the highest kindergarten enrollments they’ve had in many years, so that was a surprise.”
More enrollment means more children in the same space and one of Krishnadasan’s other priorities is to keep class sizes down. Reductions in class size are popular with some educators and parents, because a smaller class allows more individual attention for each student. There is also a legal requirement: The 2012 state Supreme Court case McCleary v. State of Washington, commonly called the McCleary decision, determined that state government was not fully funding basic education. The state’s new basic education funding plan in response to McCleary includes reduced class sizes.
“The current McCleary solution doesn’t address facilities, so while it may say to have lower class sizes, it doesn’t tell you how to house one classroom [split into] two classrooms,” Krishnadasan said. She noted several ideas that have been used to increase space at local schools, such as bringing in so-called portable classroom units and moving science equipment out of labs. “Five of our elementary schools now have repurposed their science rooms into classrooms, but we’re losing our science space,” she said. “We’re putting our science education on a cart and the science teacher is pushing the cart around from room to room.”
Another focus for Krishnadasan is maintenance and facility upgrades, including both general repairs and updates for systems like ventilation. “Because our schools are 40-plus years old—some older than that—HVAC systems are so out of date that we can’t even get parts for them,” she said.
Krishnadasan would also like to see more technology making its way into the classroom. “Technology in our classrooms could be the tools to help a student prepare to enter a trades career such as welding … technology could also look like the proper science equipment to engage our students and prepare them for a higher level science degree,” she said. “Investing in our educational systems is an investment in our community as a whole.”