The Hillsboro School District Board of Directors welcomed four recently-elected members in its summer meeting on Tuesday, July 11, and with the new members likely come the winds of change in board politics.
Jaci Spross, Martin Granum, Mark Watson and Erica Lopez were sworn in, replacing three sitting members and filling the vacancy left by Janeen Sollman, who was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives last November.
The board selected Lisa Allen as the next chairperson and Kim Strelchun as the vice chair. Allen is midway through her first four-year term, and Strelchun her second.
Allen steps in to take the reins from Wayne Clift, who was first elected to the board in 2011.
Several members had praise for Clift, who led the board through several tough decisions over the last year, including the controversy around contraceptives in a school-based health clinic. All four new members supported the use of contraceptives during the campaign leading up to their election in May.
District Superintendent Mike Scott thanked Clift for his leadership.
"A number of the topics (discussed by the board) were not easy," Scott told the board. "They were highly-charged topics in the community, and (Clift led) in a graceful and dignified way."
Scott said he looked forward to working with the new board, which showed a clear priority of helping students during the campaign as "advocates for students without agenda and without a past."
But Clift took issue with the characterization by some of previous board meetings as tense. The board has taken steps to place more items on the consent agenda, which is typically considered in a single motion and requires members be versed on the items well before meetings. The groundwork is laid in work sessions, he said, not on the dais.
"The reality is the vast majority of topics are without much debate, and there are only a select few topics that have ever really been a problem," Clift said. "Those tend to magnify because they attract a lot of attention get the community involved."
The board could take a second look at some of the issues, Clift said, but not with the preconceived idea of overturning past decisions. Rather, he hopes the board will carefully review past decisions before making a choice.
"That's what I've heard from everyone is their commitment to fair and honest review of all the topics that come up and treating each other with respect," he said. "It's exciting to start a new year. It's always a breath of fresh air to start with a new group."
With his tenure as chairman over and his term set to expire in 2019, Clift said he is planning to pursue a career in teaching. Math, science and engineering would likely be the focus, given a passion for teaching and 25 years of experience at Intel.
The board has a work session and retreat scheduled for July 31, and is set to return a regular meeting schedule in September.