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School board OKs process to replace members

Applications due to district Jan. 9 in effort to appoint replacements for recalled members

Saying they'll include questions posed by the community as part of their interview process, Forest Grove School Board members Monday night approved a timeline and method for replacing two recalled members.

The vote to move forward with the process and restore the board to a five-member panel by February was unanimous.

'We're going to invite applicants to optionally answer any of [the community's questions] in essay form as part of their applications,' said board chair Alisa Hampton, adding that she and her colleagues hadn't yet voted on specific interview questions.

The ball gets rolling right away. Applications can be turned in to Superintendent Yvonne Curtis' office anytime between now and 5 p.m. Jan. 9. That same evening, the board will mull candidates' names during its regular meeting.

As of Tuesday morning, Hampton said, only Jeff Cooper, who ran unsuccessfully for the board in May 2010, had declared an intention to seek appointment to positions formerly held by Terry Howell and Anna Tavera-Weller.

The pair was ousted by voters in a special election Nov. 1 after actions taken during a contentious spring budget season caused some in the community to campaign for their recall.

The board officially declared Positions 1 and 2 open Nov. 28, and the slots are now advertised on the district's website.

Appointees will serve through June 30, 2013.

Open to public

Once the slate of candidates has been determined, board members Hampton, Fred Marble and Kate Grandusky will conduct individual interviews between Jan. 10 and 20.

Those meetings will be open to the public, but on Monday, Marble and Hampton disagreed over whether applicants should attend each other's interview sessions.

'I don't think a candidate should sit in on interviews of other candidates,' Marble said.

Hampton, who joined the board by appointment in 2009, recalled that her board interview had been witnessed by at least one other candidate.

'I'd rather have everyone have access to the interviews,' she said.

Kate Grandusky, who defeated former member Ralph Brown for Position 4 in last May's election, said she valued a board candidate's ability to weigh all sides of an issue over most other qualities.

'Objectivity is really critical,' Grandusky noted.

Hampton was concerned that it could be difficult for the board to discern whether an applicant possessed certain qualities during a half-hour interview. 'We have to think about what kinds of things we can judge candidates on,' she said.

Experience in the public education field and success in leadership roles were easier to quantify, board members agreed. But Marble suggested the board rely on conversations with candidates' references to judge some of the intangibles.

Interested or not

Hampton said she'd picked up on some rumblings in the community about who might toss their hat into the ring for the board seats. But mostly, the slate remained a mystery to her.

'I've heard from a few people asking specific questions about the time commitment, support to bring new members up to speed and things like that,' said Hampton. 'So I'm assuming they're using those answers to help them decide whether they're interested or not.'

She added she'd received recommendations from 'a few community members on other people who might be good to talk with,' but doesn't yet have a sense of how many folks - or who - will actually apply.

Turning in the form is the first step.

If candidates want to augment their responses on the application form, they have the option of addressing a list of interview questions by essay and submitting the answers as part of their application, noted district communications director Connie Potter.

want to be on the board?

Applications: Forms are online at fgsd.k12.or.us; deadline is Jan. 9, 2012

Prerequisites: Applicants must have lived within the Forest Grove School District for a year and be registered voters

Interviews: Public interviews with all candidates will take place Jan. 10-20

Decision time: Board members are due to rank the top candidates Jan. 23 and announce appointees Feb. 13, 2012