Here is what 2 candidates from the Puyallup School Board had to say


Candidates Marcello Mancini, left, and David Berg.

Conversations about masks, vaccines, and critical race theory have touched most, if not all, school board meetings across the country. Here is what two candidates from the Puyallup School Board have to say about it and why they are running in this year’s election.

Puyallup has a population of over 43,000 people. There were about 27,200 registered voters in the city as of Oct. 1, according to the Secretary of State’s website. The general elections take place on Tuesday, November 2.

David Berg

David Berg is a stay-at-home dad and has volunteered in the Puyallup School District since 2004, when his oldest son was in kindergarten. He was legislative chairman of the board of the Puyallup Parents and Teachers Association at one point.

Berg also served as chair of the Washington Coalition for Gifted Education from 2013 to 2021, during which he worked with lawmakers, teachers and parents to ensure that students had access to the programs and resources necessary for their success, did he declare.

“It was always something that I really enjoyed,” Berg said. “I was very lucky to be able to do this.”

Having years of hands-on experience with the school district and education, in general, taught Berg the importance of advocacy, he said. It also taught him that he had to have the ability to work with different people.

This year marks Berg’s first candidacy for a school board position, which he has been interested in for some time, he said. After spending eight years with the coalition, he felt it was time for him to focus on Puyallup.

“I was interested in running for the school board before much of the nationwide controversy started to heat up and really take shape,” Berg said.

When it comes to wearing masks in school, Berg said that while it may not be preferable for some, it helps provide non-stop education. Without masks, schools would be in a “much worse situation,” he said.

“We don’t have a lot of other options at our fingertips, so we have to use whatever tools we have to try to protect children and keep them in school,” Berg said.

With vaccines being another tool available to parents, the school board ultimately doesn’t decide, Berg said. Public health officials have the final say, and it is up to parents if they want to follow through.

Critical race theory has a lot of “gun wrath” behind it and is based on misunderstandings, Berg said. It is a concept that is not taught in K-12 schools. However, it is important that educators have training in topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion, he said.

The school district has evolved over the past two years, Berg said. It’s more diverse now compared to the past, which means it’s important to keep equity and inclusion in mind going forward, he said.

“It’s important for us to keep in mind the decisions we make and how they influence the results,” Berg said. “We have to fix it for the kids. “

If elected, he plans to actively listen and seek the advice of parents, he said. He wants to ensure that parents have the opportunity to share their thoughts while maintaining a constructive and effective conversation.

Berg grew up in Renton and moved to Puyallup in 2001.

Berg is supported by groups such as the Washington Education Association, the Pierce County Central Labor Council, the AFL-CIO, and the Tacoma Pierce County Black Collective. Groups such as WEA and PCCLC have contributed funds to his campaign.

Marcello Mancini

Editor’s Note: This candidate responded to News Tribune questions via email.

Marcello Mancini currently serves on the Puyallup School District Bond Oversight Committee, during which he works with community members and school officials to manage the $ 292 million bond that the district acquired in 2015.

Mancini has also been a member of the Parent-Teacher Association and the Parent-Teacher Student Association in the past. At one point, he was the legislative representative of the PTSA from Glacier View Junior High.

Mancini is the chair of the Citizen’s Advisory Council for Pierce County Conservation Futures and is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He joined the military in 1989 and continued his career in food manufacturing after years of service.

This is the first time Mancini has run for a job with the school board, according to his email. His decision to show up was prompted by friends who came to see him, expressing concerns about the school district amid the pandemic.

“Many teachers have done a great job under very difficult circumstances while others have failed in their efforts,” Mancini said. “This, along with declining academic performance in math and science, for example, are concerns parents want to see addressed and improved in the district. “

Mancini believes he can add value to the school board through his experiences working for private entities as well as as a volunteer. He hopes to bring the voice of parents back to the school district and incorporate more input from parents into decision-making.

“Those who are part of our education system should have one goal in mind and that is to create a rewarding education system where our students and those who support them reach their full potential,” Mancini said.

One of the issues Mancini wants to address if elected is the salary scale for school bus drivers. He spoke to drivers who left the school district who said wages may be a reason there aren’t many left on staff, according to his email.

Another issue Mancini said he wants to address is transparency within the school district, especially around obligations and levies. There aren’t enough details being shared with the public, he said in his email.

“As a member of the bond watchdog, I’m having a hard time finding details on how and where bond dollars are allocated,” Mancini said.

Regarding masks and vaccines, Mancini is against “actions that infringe the right of an individual or guardian to choose what is best for his child and / or himself”, but believes that people should respect the policies of a school district even if they don’t agree, according to his email.

Although the school district does not teach critical race theory, Mancini said he was against implementing this type of program. He is also concerned that school officials will have to receive training on what he has called “CRT concepts” by law and as a result. Senate Bill 5044.

SB 5044, passed by the state legislature, requires training of school staff on equity and inclusion. Critical Race Theory, a topic taught at the graduate level, seeks to explore the ways in which past racism persists in ways sometimes unrecognized in today’s law and other institutions.

“Critical race theory continues to be a distraction and prejudice to our entire education system,” Mancini said.

Mancini grew up in California and moved to Puyallup in 2000.

He is supported by groups such as the Puyallup Police Association as well as individuals such as Pierce County Council Members Dave Morell and Amy Cruver, and State Senator Chris Gildon, R-Puyallup. Individuals like Gildon and groups like the Pierce County Republican Party contributed financially to his campaign.

Angelica Relente covers topics that affect communities in East Pierce County. She started as a news intern in June 2021.

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Norma A. Roth