The Greater Albany Public Schools board of directors remained deadlocked Thursday on its choice to fill a vacant board seat after four tie ballot votes, several rounds of questions and interjection from the Oregon School Boards Association.
Candidates Justin Roach, Javier Cervantes, Samantha Sheley and Pat Eastman were four of the eight candidates who submitted applications for the vacancy left by former board member Micah Smith’s resignation in June.
Current members asked each candidate four questions ranging from why they wanted to join the board to equity to communication between the district and community. After the first round of questions, the board took a ballot vote that yielded Roach and Eastman as the top contenders and tied for the position with two votes each.
Roach, who currently heads a masters program for aspiring teachers at Oregon State University, focused on examining technology in the classroom, providing resources for teachers, and ensuring that English-language learners were taken into account when the board adopted curriculum. Eastman, a member of the district’s bond committee highlighted his experience with the district and the need to bring existing board goals to completion.
The board had advertised the method by which it would select a new member, noting that in the case of a tie, three subsequent question rounds would be held, then a vote held after each one. Board members Eric Aguinaga and Michael Thomson cast their vote for Eastman while board chair Jennifer Ward and member Kim Butzner continued to vote for Roach.
During the third round of questions focusing on health and safety and technology, assistant superintendent Lisa Harlan requested guidance from OSBA.
“The advice from OSBA is to rank-order all four of the candidates,” superintendent Melissa Goff told the board.
However, even with Cervantes and Sheely back in the running and votes tallied on a point system similar to a grade point average, the board tied again.
“The advice from OSBA is to adjourn,” Goff told the board, noting that it would have to discuss the issue further and decide on a process at the next board meeting. However, Aguinaga questioned of more time would yield a different result. Goff repeated her suggestion to adjourn.
Roach and Eastman will be given additional questions from the board and the issue taken up again at the next GAPS meeting scheduled for Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. at the district office.