Board members, take your seats
The newly-elected board members in East County's four school districts and their currently serving colleagues face big challenges including hiring new superintendents and overseeing bond projects.
The once rather sleepy races garnered some unusual results in the Tuesday, May 18, election.
Former Gresham Police Chief and state legislator Carla Piluso won her seat for re-election to the Gresham-Barlow School Board, even though she had dropped out of the race after her name was already on the ballot. Her term ends June 30.
If Piluso decides not to serve, once the election results are certified in June, Piluso would have to resign her seat and the school board would take applications and appoint a replacement.
In the Centennial School District, newcomer Erica Fuller unseated incumbent Rod Boettcher, who had served on the school board for nearly three decades.
"I appreciate everything he (Boettcher) has done and hope to bring his legacy through in my position," Fuller said of her win over Boettcher, but she added voters decided it was time for a change.
Fuller said she wants to focus on improving communication and transparency in the Centennial district.
"When I was out campaigning, I heard a lot about the transparency in the Centennial community," she said.
Two of the all-volunteer boards will will face one of a school board's most important jobs, hiring a new superintendent.
In the Gresham-Barlow School District, Superintendent Katrise Perera announced her resignation in March, effective June 30, and the board will have to supervise the search to replace her.
Corbett School District has an interim superintendent Dan Wold, while the board decides what to do about a new leader for the 1,100-student district.
In addition, in the 10,400-student Reynolds School District, the teacher's union has called for the ouster of Superintendent Danna Diaz. The new board members likely will have to deal with that thorny issue.
Spencer Chao, elected to the Reynolds board, said "I'm very grateful for the opportunity of representing the families and students of the Reynolds School District," although he admitted to being a bit intimidated by "the tasks at hand."
The newly-elected school board members in the Centennial and Corbett school districts will join the board as it oversees bond projects.
Fuller said Centennial's renovation program, funded by the bond, is one area where more communication with district families would help.
"We need to share with the community what we're doing along the way," she said.
All the school boards will preside over the school districts' return to regular, full-time, in-person learning, which is expected to happen in the fall. Districts will have to address the learning deficits that built up during a year of mostly online education and social and emotional issues that might linger.
In addition to hiring the superintendent, school boards also set policy for the district and approve the budget. The school board approves curriculum and the hiring of teachers. But the all-volunteer school board is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the schools.
In the Gresham-Barlow School District, four of the five seats up for grabs were contested races.
In Position 1, with 62% of the vote, Holly Riegelmann unseated incumbent and Metro policy advisor Robyn Stowers, who had 39% of the vote in Multnomah County.
In Position 4, incumbent Carla Piluso won with 33% of the vote, but has said she did not plan to serve. Recently-retired teacher Julie Frediani, was close behind with 32% of the vote. Outspoken conservative Joe Demers had 20% and electrical contractor Jeff Jones had 15% of the Multnomah County votes.
Gresham-Barlow board chair Blake Peterson won with 68% compared to his 19-year-old student challenger, Jasia Mosley, who had 32% for Position 5.
Gresham-Barlow incumbent Mayra Gomez had 56% of the votes compared with challenger Adam Sorenson's 44% for Position 6.
Cathy Vandehey Keathley was unopposed for Position 3 on the Gresham-Barlow School Board.
In the Reynolds School District, four seats were on the ballot and no incumbent ran for re-election, so the majority of directors on the board will never have served before.
Curt Schulz, Aaron Munoz, Charles Crowder and Jim Kight were all vying for Position 1. Munoz won with 42% of the vote, with Kight garnering 33%. Crowder and Schulz appeared on the ballot, but effectively withdrew from the race, and garnered 7% and 17% of the vote respectively
For Reynolds' Position 2, Spencer Chao bested Matt Richardson with 61% of the vote compared to Richardson's 38%.
In Reynolds' Position 4, Cayle Tern had 53% of the votes compared to Bill Stewart's 46%.
Michael Reyes ran unopposed and was elected for Position 3.
Centennial and Corbett
In the Centennial School District, in the only contested race, Fuller had 58% of the vote, compared with 41% for Boettcher, who served on the Centennial School Board for 29 years.
Davi Linn, Claudia Andrews and Heath Curry all ran unopposed.
In the Corbett School District, incumbent Todd Mickalson won a tight race against challenger Vanessa Lyon for Position 2. Mickalson had 52% of the votes, compared with Lyons' 48%. But they were separated by fewer than 100 votes.
In Position 4, David Granberg had 58% of the vote to Leah Fredericks at 42%.
Incumbents Michelle Vo, Bob Buttke and Rebecca Bratton ran unopposed.
Most of the new board members will serve until June 30, 2025, with the exception of Position 1 in Gresham-Barlow and Bratton in Corbett — they will serve until June 30, 2023, filling unexpired terms.
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