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The newest members of the Newberg School District board come in with ambitious agendas

Two school board positions were contested on the ballot in the May special election. When the dust settled, Newberg voters picked longtime supervisor and coach Dave Brown to fill the Zone 6 seat and educational outsider Brian Shannon for the Zone 7 spot.Shannon

The 61-year-old Brown, who has coached boys tennis at Newberg High School for the past two decades, received just under 44 percent of the vote, out-pacing Andrea Call's 34 percent and Woody Little's 22 percent. This was the first time Brown ran for any kind of elected office, but he said it's something that has always interested him

"It was humbling and I'm not gonna lie, it was kind of exciting," he said. "I've always loved politics. My fifth grade teacher at Central Elementary here in Newberg, Ms. Williams, got us turned on to politics from a young age. I've always loved it, I have just been too busy coaching to ever do anything."

People in the community whom he respects, Brown said, asked him to run for the position. He decided to file as a candidate and make his case to voters with a platform of simplifying the education system locally.Brown

Brown said he believes returning to methods of the past – whether it be in the classroom or on the school board – will benefit Newberg students. He added that school has become too complicated for kids, who need a clearer path toward a career in his view.

"Being in the schools for 20 years and all the coaching I've done, I have seen that we have a lot of great things going on," Brown said. "I've been a student, parent, coach and worker in this district, and I've seen what works and what doesn't. We need everybody to stop pushing their own ideas all the time and just get everybody to work hard for the students."

It's up to the school board, Brown said, to make things simpler, raise the bar for students district-wide, develop an approach that guides students toward what they're best at and helps them improve in areas they struggle with.

Brown said he was drawn to the position by a desire to serve. Expressing a gratitude to the voters for selecting him, he looked ahead to a new chapter in his career with optimism.

"I really want to serve the community," Brown said. "People have trusted me for a long time to coach their kids, but now they are trusting me to have a broader brush on the canvas. Our community is at a crossroads and really wants good schools."

Shannon hopes to 'shake things up'

In the Zone 7 race, Brian Shannon, 37 and a project manager at Selectron Techologies in Portland, was elected with just under 62 percent of the vote, beating out incumbent Lydia Keuler.

The board appointed Keuler in 2018 and Shannon decided to run an outsider's campaign of sorts, focusing heavily on reform and fiscal conservatism. He won by nearly 24 points, he says, because voters embraced his platform.

"I wanted to give people a choice," he said. "I feel like we need elected officials on our boards. Not to degrade anyone who is appointed, but who you're accountable to when you're elected versus when you're appointed is very different."

Shannon said he plans to "shake things up" and push for major reforms to the board's processes and to the system in place for Newberg students. That can be challenging on a seven-person board that is typically an apolitical entity containing a variety of perspectives, but Shannon is confident that he will deliver on his promises to voters.

One of Shannon's primary objectives is to collaborate with stakeholders in the community who want to spark change in the school district. That includes local politicians, churches and other community groups, he said.

"The district doesn't have to be everything for everybody," Shannon said. "We don't have to reinvent the wheel. There are school districts around the state, country and world that are getting better results for our students, and spending less money to do it.

"I get really frustrated when politicians say, 'we just need more money,'" Shannon continued. "To me, that is akin to your car sputtering at every intersection, the check engine light is on and there's smoke billowing out of the hood, and you just say, 'we need more gas in the tank.'"

Shannon said his background outside of education is a necessary perspective in order for the board to properly serve the community. He warned against the issue of groupthink if everyone on the board has an academic background, saying the board needs a "fresh set of eyes" to examine the issues its students face.

"In general, I think it's more about attitude than where you come from," Shannon said, referencing diversity. "In our politics, we're getting too focused on identity and not enough on ideas. I think we don't have enough good ideas."

Shannon aims to work toward adopting his ideas for reform when he and Brown are sworn in later this month. Shannon and his family – including a wife and two young children – have enjoyed this process, he said, and he looks forward to serving the community they call home.

"It's been fun," Shannon said. "It's hard to engage people in an off-year, May election, but I couldn't be prouder of what we managed to do. My wife gave me incredible support and I had a lot of support from community members."

School briefs

Teen studio arts on display at cultural center

Teens with an interest in the studio arts are invited to a number of events at the Chehalem Cultural Center this summer. Sixth through 12th graders can participate in the sessions, which run from June 24-28 and cost $85 per session.

Morning sessions go from 10 a.m. to noon for those interested in the photography and drawing/painting studio. Afternoon sessions, from 1 to 3 p.m., include stage and theater for teens, mixed media and a ceramics wheel throwing studio. For more information or to register, visit chehalemculturalcenter.org.

Locals make honor roll

Two students from Newberg earned recognition at Montana State University this spring. Kearsten Friedrich and Julia Nelson received dean's list honors, which requires a 3.5 GPA or above for the semester. 3,301 students at MSU made the list out of nearly 15,000 undergraduates. The public university is located in Bozeman, Montana, near the Idaho and Wyoming borders and Yellowstone National Park.

Summer meals at school

Free breakfast and lunch for children ages 1-18 is available at Edwards Elementary this summer. The program runs from June 17 to Aug. 23, Monday through Friday, at 714 E. Sixth St. in Newberg. Breakfast is from 8 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch runs from 11 a.m. to noon. There is no charge or application necessary. No meals will be provided on the July 4 holiday. For more information, call Nutrition Services at Newberg Public Schools at 503-554-5016.

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