North Clackamas school board considers 9 applicants
The six remaining members of the North Clackamas School Board plan to vote Jan. 24 to fill the vacancy left by Trisha Claxton.
NCSD board members are considering nine applicants to replace Claxton, who resigned from the board in early November due to what she described as "unforeseen health issues." Twelve people initially applied for the open position, but three applicants have withdrawn.
As previously reported, Claxton frequently acted as the swing vote on the board since her election in 2011 and re-election in 2015. NCSD's appointee, to be voted in by the six board members this week, will complete the rest of Claxton's term through June 30. To continue on the board after June, the chosen appointee will need to win local voters' support in this May's special-district election.
Claxton was hopeful about the direction the district is headed. As reported in a Clackamas Review article in November, she wanted her resignation to encourage discussion about the "support that we give each other within the board."
As a teacher herself, Claxton wanted her replacement to share her dedication to education and her willingness to sacrifice popularity in favor of doing "what is right for the safety and ethics of future generations."
Representing a diverse cross-section of NCSD-area residents, meet the applicants vying to take Claxton's place in making important decisions for local schools:
Ashley Martin Butler
Happy Valley resident Ashley Martin Butler has two children enrolled in North Clackamas District schools. His younger child is a first-grader at Scouters Mountain Elementary School and his older child is a seventh-grader at Happy Valley Middle School.
Butler first became involved in the district as a leader of the recently created Happy Valley Affinity Group. He is a board member of the Clackamas Academy of Industrial Sciences in Oregon City.
In his application for the NCSD board position, Butler described his view of public education as a system with both "general appeal" and "individualized response channels that address the needs of those within the system."
Butler is the owner of Brown and Carter Management Group, which focuses on asset, investment and human-capital management for small businesses. Previously he served as a senior executive in operations of automotive, hydraulic and aerospace companies.
Libra Forde lives in Damascus and works as the chief operating officer at Self Enhancement Inc., a Portland nonprofit that focuses on supporting underserved youth in local schools through mentoring programs for students, parents and continued support following students' graduation from high school.
Forde also has served as a member of the Rock Creek Middle School Council, as the PTO treasurer of Clackamas High School and as a member of the School Naming Committee.
Her vision of public education emphasizes accessibility and availability for all, and she believes her "not often heard" experience "as a single minority parent" will provide a new lens for district decision-making.
Forde's three children have all attended North Clackamas schools since her family moved to Oregon in 2014.
"I see myself as a servant of the district youth and families who must be available and capable of listening and engaging with all," she wrote.
Beavercreek resident Charles Gallia believes his experience in policy analysis, public finance and organizational development will complement the existing board members. Gallia attempted to unseat state Sen. Alan Olsen in the November election for Senate District 20, which covers Oregon City and Gladstone, and only has small overlap areas with NCSD in Oak Grove, Damascus and Beavercreek.
Gallia is now semi-retired from his position as the Oregon Health Authority's senior policy adviser for research and evaluation. In this capacity, he co-founded the Oregon Pediatric Improvement Partnership to develop the quality of child health care.
Gallia is the incoming chair of the Clackamas County Economic Development Commission and helps raise funds for Oregon City's Founders Clinic. He believes education, like health care, should provide an "equitable opportunity for all children … for long-term well-being."
Randall J. King
Randall J. King has two young children who soon will enter the North Clackamas school system. As a former teacher himself, with an educational background in education foundations and leadership, King said he has a vested interest in the schools his children will attend.
King currently works as a student achievement specialist at West Powellhurst Elementary in the David Douglas School District. He previously worked for 11 years as a first-grade teacher at Gilbert Park Elementary in the same district.
In his own teaching experience and philosophy, King prioritizes "individual needs and learning style" and "learning opportunities where (students) are safe, heard, valued."
Robert F.P. Ludwick
With a background in technology and technology management, Robert F.P. Ludwick believes he would bring a valuable focus on technology in education to the board.
Employed by AVL Digital Group as a software development manager for CD Baby, an independent music retailer, Ludwick also is involved in a volunteer advisory capacity to Clackamas County elected officials as a commissioner for the Clackamas Traffic Safety Commission and a member of the Library District of Clackamas County Budget Committee.
His standards for public education are determined by a series of metrics including graduation rates, extracurricular engagement and the "development of critical social skills."
Orlando Perez is the father of two children who attend Happy Valley's Scouters Mountain Elementary School, where he has served as both the PTA president and the PTA treasurer. During the 2018–19 school year, Perez is the PTA treasurer for a second time.
He defines success in public education "as a positive collaboration between educators, parents, families, administrators and all community members that ultimately results in every single child in the school district fully realizing their potential."
Currently working as a nurse at Randall Children's Hospital, Perez's professional background includes four years in the U.S. Air Force and more than 20 years in the health care industry.
Vainu Rao has been an active volunteer in the North Clackamas School District for the past five years. Currently, Rao is a member of the district's Budget Committee.
At Clackamas High School, she is a mentor in the Access to Student Assistance Programs In Reach of Everyone (ASPIRE) volunteer program and a tutor for the SAT. With a background in technology and engineering, Rao hopes to bring a focus on STEM to the board.
Rao's children attend Clackamas High School and Happy Valley Middle School. Her goals for public education prioritize every student graduating from high school and having the choice to pursue further education.
"Board members should be looking toward the needs of the society in the near future and ways to meet those within the realm of possibilities," she wrote in her NCSD application.
A former math teacher and soccer coach at Clackamas High School, now retired, Gerald Young has 33 years of teaching experience. His time in the classroom has taught him that, in addition to "high-quality instruction," public education must focus on equity and access for all students.
As someone who has deeply valued education since he was young, Young earned a doctorate degree in education from Portland State University after retiring. Living in the unincorporated urban Clackamas area, he continues to serve as a member on both the national and Oregon Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
"I have honed both my listening, organizational and problem-solving skills, which I feel will be important assests to my role as board member," he wrote.
Clackamas resident Patty Zimmerman has taught in the Portland Public Schools district for 41 years, and she has experience teaching grades K–8. Zimmerman retired from her full-time teaching position in 2008, the same year her youngest child graduated from the North Clackamas School District.
As a parent and/or teacher Zimmerman volunteered for PTA positions, as a member of a school advisory council and as chair of the school's site council. Since retiring, she has spent her time supervising student teachers in education programs at Oregon universities. Zimmerman recently was awarded a grant from the Oregon Department of Education for mentoring new NCSD teachers.
Zimmerman advocates "a rigorous, deliberate, just, equitable, accessible, and holistic education" that will help students "become well-rounded contributors to our society."
Clackamas Review Editor Raymond Rendleman contributed to this report.