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Letters to the Editor

Board member is an asset to school district, Time to work together for schools, Board members made tough, necessary, decisions

Board member is an asset to school district

I am a school board member in the Fern Ridge District 28J - fifteen miles west of Eugene. My desire is to help our schools, our communities and our students and naively thought that my good intentions were enough. Balancing my concerns with the fiscal needs of the district often brought about disagreements with one group or another of our caring families not because any group is right or wrong but that they often do not understand the limited choices available. They mean well; your school board members volunteer a considerable amount of time to keep the district strong and healthy.

School board members receive no pay. Money is not the reason we get involved. We get involved to make a difference while constrained by a funding system that makes much of what we desire to hold on to or to create impossible. Our state funding has created situations where horrific choices have to be made to save programs and to save our children's futures. This final year of the biennium may be even worse and more drastic cuts necessary.

I met Anna Tavera-Weller in Salem this year at a board-building workshop. I enjoyed her strong stance for all students and her view that she and the board's job is to provide the best possible education for all children regardless of difficult financial challenges. Anna's talents and her dedication is a great asset to your district and your city. I strongly support her retention for your school district's benefit. It would be much easier to walk away in the face of criticism and name-calling, but as I would expect, Anna will stand tall and work for the best that your students can have in these financially challenging times.

Twinkle Ann Morton

Veneta

Time to work together for schools

Sometimes we need a recall. We elect citizen representatives in good faith, hoping they will guide the community forward as best they can. We trust their wisdom and believe they will take seriously their responsibility and the power we've given them. When they blatantly abuse that power, we need to step in to prevent further damage.

Right now two members of the Forest Grove School Board are up for recall, Anna Tavera-Weller and Terry Howell, and ballots are sitting on kitchen tables. It's up to all of us to decide if they should stay or go. We can start by asking if they've misused their authority, if they've personally benefited from decisions they've made, if they've neglected their duties, been absent from the process. If the answer is 'Yes,' then by all means we should vote them out. From our assessment, we think the answer is 'No.' We don't believe their service merits the boot.

At times we're too quick to lay blame and too slow to exercise empathy. We'd prefer not to walk in another's shoes. We think Mr. Howell and Ms. Tavera-Weller deserve the right to respond to complaints expressed by some. They have not been derelict in their duty. And many, us included, applaud the courage and generosity they've shown in serving on the board in such trying times.

However, we also think that Anna and Terry need more of us to be more engaged. The Forest Grove School Citizens Advisory is proving that parent engagement can get traction with the District ('Parents push back,' 10/12 News-Times). People do listen when spoken to.

At Adelante Mujeres, the non-profit I direct, we view education as a life-long process. All of us, not just children and youth, are gaining new skills with each passing day. Elected officials are no exception, and they need our input. No doubt about it, the School Board didn't do everything perfect, but with $7,500,000 to cut, could anybody have come close to perfect? How about we put down our arms, and begin to labor and learn together to find our way out of our educational and fiscal crises?

Let's pick up those ballots on our kitchen tables, vote 'NO' and then get on the phone to start a conversation with Anna and Terry. They do want to know what we'd like to see in our school district, and while we're at it, let's call the other members of the School Board as well.

Bridget Cooke,

Executive Director

Adelante Mujeres,

Forest Grove

Board members made tough, necessary, decisions

Voters in Forest Grove School District have received their ballots for the recall of Terry Howell and Anna Tavera-Weller.

I have had the honor of serving with both of these Board members. I have found them to be hard working, honorable Board members. Both of them have students in the school district.

During the fall of 2010, Anna Tavera-Weller, as Board chair, headed the effort to pass the School Bond issue that was passed at the November election. All Board members worked hard to see that information was presented to the public by going door-to-door, attending informational meetings and writing informational materials. The measure passed and we can see projects in all of our schools.

When the District started working on the 2011-12 school budget, it was clear that giant cuts were going to be necessary. The District held a Community Forum over a seven-week period. It involved 80 community members, the school board, district administrators and staff. Information from this forum was used in building the 2011-12 budget. The community was involved in a process that included cuts across the educational program. These were cuts that no one wanted to make including all the board members. However, cuts had to be made. These decisions were made based on the welfare of ALL of the students in the District.

I hope voters will understand that Board members Terry Howell and Anna Tavera-Weller made these decisions in good faith and the voters will vote to oppose their recall. They both deserve to retain their board positions.

Ralph Brown

Cornelius