It’s election time again and hopefully this is a time when you consider and cast your vote for your local school board candidates, thoughtfully and carefully.
Your local school board members will consider and ultimately vote on issues that are very important to your youth and to your community — more so than many other public offices. Please consider and evaluate the candidates carefully.
I’ve read a number of candidate statements and wanted to clarify a number of misperceptions. True — this is politics — so people have a tendency to make interesting claims for the sake of getting elected. However, I felt compelled to write, as these false claims and campaign promises are misleading and frankly it’s demeaning to those that have served (and continue to serve) on their local school board.
Board members are just one member of an oversight body in a school district, there to serve the kids and the community, and to do so within the policies of the district and the laws of the state. Individual board members will take an oath upon taking office to uphold the law and follow district policies.
Each and every public board meeting is in fact open to the public with all business conducted in full public view. Executive board meetings (those held out of public view) are permitted by law for very narrow, specific purposes — generally involving sensitive personnel topics, negotiations, potential litigation and student safety.
During public meetings, community members are welcome to offer their comments and opinions to the board, and all district matters are discussed and resolved in full view of the public. So, if a candidate is promising greater transparency or listening, it’s likely that they’ve attended very few board meetings, as each meeting offers the opportunity for the public to speak to the board, and to see and hear all deliberations.
Being a board member is hard, and mostly thankless work. It’s a balancing act involving many, many hours of studying any given topic, along with many hours of training and development — both as individuals and as an entire board. It involves serving all students, staff and community partners as fairly and objectively as possible — even though board decisions can be unanimous or split, meaning there may be personal disagreement among its members, the outcome is one board action.
A board member needs to decide on principle, cast their vote and then take this in stride, even if “their” view doesn’t happen. Board members listen, but listening is very different from agreeing. And the board ultimately acts as a body, not as individuals.
In Philomath, we are losing two outstanding school board members, who have served this community and its students extremely well. They’ve worked tirelessly to do what they believe has been right for our kids at great personal sacrifice. Both Rick Wells and Rachael Brown have been excellent board members with whom I’ve been proud to serve. I thank both for their selfless and committed work for our kids.
We’re also losing Melissa Goff, who has been an outstanding superintendent for the past four years. She’s worked closely with the board, district staff and the community to make our district a better place for all our kids — especially those most in need of our support. She’s worked across the county and state to secure commitments and agreements that have benefited all of us, many of those for years to come.
Our next board will have its work cut out for it in finding a worthy replacement for Melissa — I hope that our new board will be up to the challenges that lie ahead.
Please consider your school board candidates carefully and thoughtfully. It’s personal character, unwavering commitment to serving the kids and a selfless devotion to working together as one member of a leadership team that makes for a good school board member.