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School board has big decisions ahead on charter district and possible future bond

Redfern One incumbent was unseated but another likely hung on to her school board position in Corbett School Board races.

All three seats up for grabs in the Tuesday, May 21, election for the all-volunteer school board in Corbett were contested races.

Todd Redfern led in his challenge to incumbent Marguerite Perry for Position 1. Redfern had 648 votes or 60.2% of the vote in early returns to Perry's 39.9% or 429 votes. Perry is the retail operations manager for nonprofit Friends of Vista House. Challenger Redfern is the operations manager for Colas Structures, a construction company.

Schools activist Cless Woodward had 71% or 755 votes in his race against former Corbett School Board member Charlie O'Neil for Position 6.

WoodwardO'Neil, who drew 314 votes, is a small business owner and former Portland firefighter. Woodward is the vice president of Westech Construction Inc.

"I'm very excited to be able to serve the people that elected me," Woodward said.

His first priority, he said, "is to try and work on passing a bond by gaining the needed community support and educating the community on the issues we face as a school district."

Katey (Rickert) Kinnear, an incumbent, was squeaking ahead of challenger Tessie Adams for Position 7. Kinnear had 533 votes to Adam's 502, a margin of 31 votes. There are still hundreds of ballots left to count in Multnomah County, which could alter the outcome of this race.

KinnearKinnear is the owner of Katey Kinnear Photography and Adams is a paramedic and firefighter.

The newly elected Corbett School Board will have a lot on its plate. Although the 1,200-student district has a high graduation rate and student achievement is solid, the district, its board and community are roiled by constant disagreements and mistrust.

The district is discussing becoming a charter district to maintain its size. Nearly half of the students attending Corbett schools come from outside the district. But the law allowing those transfers expired this year. If the district becomes a charter district, it would be able to continue to accept out-of-district students and the state education funds that come with them.

The district has tried four times, without success, to pass a bond to upgrade the district's school buildings, one of which could crumble in the event of an earthquake. In an effort to build trust with the community in order to pass a bond, a community group advocated for an outside consultant to come in and evaluate the district.

Education consultant Rob Saxton was hired, produced a 53-page report and recommended some major changes in the district. The new board will likely consider some of the recommended changes.


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