With three daughters coming up through school, Karen Skinkis has definitely been a busy mom over the years. Besides the various classroom activities, she’s been involved with everything from Turkey Bingo to helping with the Senior All-Night Party.
Now she’s ready to take that level of volunteering to the next level by running for a seat on the Philomath School Board.
“I care about kids and it sounds so cliche but this is what I’ve just done,” Skinkis said. “I’ve volunteered, I’ve worked in the kids’ schools in and around in various capacities. My kids now — my youngest are sophomores and my oldest is a senior — so we’re transitioning, all of us, and they don’t need me as much in the schools.”
With all three children in high school, most of her time has revolved around their participation in sports.
“I’m looking at how can I continue to help our schools, stay involved in the community and make a new path for myself — even as my kids go out of my house — and still make a difference,” Skinkis said. “I thought that the school board seemed like a natural progression after the other work I had already done.”
Skinkis, who is a practice manager at Upper Hand Orthopaedics in Corvallis, said there haven’t been any particular issues that prompted her to run for the seat. For her, it’s all about contributing through her service.
“In some ways, this would be an easier election (process) if I was really rallying against something,” Skinkis said. “But I really think the school district is doing a great job and I just want to get in there and continue to help make that happen.”
As one might think, having thick skin while serving on a public governance board comes in handy. Does she feel prepared to take on all issues?
“The short answer is yes, of course, but I’m going to try to not take things personally,” Skinkis said. “Even now during the election, some people who are my friends have come out with support for other candidates, for example. I don’t necessarily take that as a slam against me but just that they might find something in the other person.”
Skinkis, who graduated from Oregon State with a bachelor’s degree in political science, has tried to keep up with the issues before the current board.
“One of the things I’ve been doing is going through all of the old meeting notes and old agendas, trying to glean some information from there and educate myself,” she said.
Skinkis knows that serving on the school board would require a major commitment.
“It’s a new area of volunteering,” she said. “It’s a lot of work to try to get a free job doing that. As a volunteer, people are usually like, ‘yes, come help.’ You don’t have to sell yourself so much.”