John Wallin says he'll seek re-election to Lake Oswego School Board
Things are heating up in the race for two open seats on the Lake Oswego School Board, with Chair Bob Barman saying he won't seek a third term and incumbent John Wallin announcing this week that he will run for re-election.
Candidates can't officially file for the May election until Feb. 9, but Kirsten Aird — the chair of the Palisades Neighborhood Association and a Lake Oswego Schools Foundation board member — has already announced that she will compete for Barman's Position 5 seat.
"One of my favorite things about serving on the Foundation board is the opportunity to meet and speak with new and current families and hear from community members about what gets them energized about our schools and the ideas they have for improvement," Aird says. "My time on the board with parents from every school in the district has been a great gift and reinforced my commitment to our children."
Barman says he is stepping down at the end of his term to make way for a new voice on the board.
"There are great leaders coming up, and it's time to give them a voice and a chance," he told The Review. "I think you come in, you get the job done and you move on when it's time."
Barman, who owns several area gas stations with his wife Katy, describes himself as a "loud, raw voice," for change. He says he will miss serving on the board and working with people in the district.
"I was transformed by seeing what all of these teachers do, what all of our classified staff do," he says. "You become a huge advocate for education when you have a front row seat like I do."
Barman says he will also miss knowing that he could affect change in the district.
"My energy was fed off of meeting people in stores, in schools, having them give me suggestions and going, 'Wow, I can actually get something done on this,'" he says. "I love when people come to me because they trust me and they want to talk to me. That's the thing I'll miss the most."
Barman says he's proud of the things he pushed for in his eight years as a board member, including supporting Spanish Immersion, opening Honors English to all high school students, removing class rankings, investing in athletic facilities, increasing opportunities for students with disabilities and decreasing tension between the two high schools.
Barman and Wallin both say they are extremely proud that the board was able to pass a comprehensive school bond. "I'm very proud that we passed the bond," Barman says. "We will be able to do a lot of work that had been delayed too long."
In fact, Wallin — who is the director of technical communications for AppNexus — says that making sure the bond is successfully executed is one of the reasons he decided to run for a second term on the board.
"The bond is critically important," he says. "We need to continue making sure we get everything done on time and within our budget. We're making great progress, but there have been challenges."
Wallin, whose first term in Position 1 included a stint as board chair, says one of his priorities continues to be increasing communication within the community.
"I think we could continue to work on transparency. We need to find more ways to get people involved and knowing about what we're doing," he says. "People communicate in different ways now, so we need to keep looking into other channels."
Like Barman, Wallin says he hopes that members of the community feel comfortable reaching out to him with concerns or suggestions.
"I listen. I'm always interested in hearing from people, even those that don't agree with me," he says. "I want our education system to be for all of our students, and I want all of our community to be involved."
Wallin says that overall, his focus is on creating an environment for students to feel relaxed and safe.
"When I started on the School Board, I could see that kids were super stressed and anxious," he says. "It's important to me to make school less stressful and a place where kids can learn and feel comfortable being themselves."
Wallin says he's proud to serve in a community that values education so highly. "We're so fortunate so have such great community support," he says. "Everyone knows the value of education, and it's not a partisan issue."
That community support for education is one reason why Aird says she wants to be on the School Board.
"I'm so excited about what we're building on. This community is so successful at passing bonds and levies, raising money through the Foundation," she says. "The generosity of the community is outstanding."
Aird and her husband moved to Lake Oswego in 2009 so her kids could start school here. Now, she has a sixth-grader at Lakeridge Junior High and a fourth-grader at Hallinan.
"My biggest priority is for them to love learning, to not be intimidated by it," she says. "They like going to school here. When I get them up in the morning, it's never a fight."
As a board member, Aird says she hopes to help continue the district's strong reputation for quality education. "I want the district to continue to become a world-class education system," she says, and "I want to be a part of that."
Aird works as the cross-agencies systems manager for the Oregon Public Health Division, where she has gained skills she believes will help her on the board.
"I work across state agencies to address the leading causes of disability and death in our state. I've worked with tribes, local public health agencies, school boards and local governments," she says. "I have a good budget sense, good organizational skills. I'll bring a long history and skill set of convening and facilitating diverse voices."
Aird says she knows that being a member of the School Board will rarely be easy, in part because of the community's investment in education.
"People care deeply in this district. I'm not intimidated by tough conversations. We may have different ideas, but I believe every person is coming from a place of compassion," she says. "It's unrealistic to think that you'll make 100 percent of the people happy 100 percent of the time, but I'll always be coming from a good place."
That's why Aird says she is running on an agenda of "togetherness" and hopes to meet as many community members as possible as she campaigns for Position 5 on the board. "I hope people want to share their thoughts with me," she says. "I'm really focused on the energy and excitement in our community around the schools."
Candidates for the two open School Board seats in the May election must file the required paperwork between Feb. 9 and March 21.
Anyone interested in learning more about the job and the process is invited to attend one of the informational sessions being hosted this week by board member Liz Hartman. The sessions, which will cover what board members do, who is eligible to run and what candidates need to do to start their campaign, are planned for 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24 at the LOSD administration office.
More information is also available online at www.losdschools.org/domain/37.
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