A three-way race
Four candidates seek two LOSD board seats
Bob Barman, a long-time school leader and fundraiser; Audrey Monroe, a Palisades parent leader; and Tamara DiVergilio, a young parent volunteer and newcomer to the school district, are running a three-way race for position No. 5 on the Lake Oswego School Board. Patti Zebrowski, an LOHS parent and volunteer, is running uncontested (see sidebar on page A2).
Incumbents Bill Swindells and Curt Sheinin have both served two, four-year terms and are not running again.
The election is May 17, and ballots will be mailed out on April 29.
Barman and his wife Katy Barman own a chain of 76 and Chevron gas stations in Oregon and California. He is currently the treasurer of Oregon Petroleum Association and was elected national president of Union 76 Station Owners Council.
The Barmans together have been committed to volunteering for schools in Lake Oswego, where they've lived since 1986. The Barmans originally moved to an apartment behind the Albertson's on Lower Boones Ferry Road on the advice of Bob's boss, who spouted praises of the local school district. They have never thought of leaving the community.
'We're just committed to education, and this is a crisis moment. I feel I have the time and the talent to help our community get through this,' said Barman.
He has served as Waluga Junior High PTO President, where he initiated and led a parent alcohol and drug prevention program and helped get new computers funded and installed within a few months. He also co-chaired the committee to bring home football games to Lakeridge High School and has co-led the Lakeridge PTO auction for the past two years with Katy.
The Barmans were also involved in the Palisades Elementary School community when their twin sons were younger. Their sons Ryan and Christopher are now sophomores at Lakeridge.
Currently, Barman is focusing time on encouraging businesses to donate to the LOSD Foundation.
'The more money we raise, the more teachers and classrooms we can keep,' said Barman. 'Are we going to have to make changes? Most likely yes. But we won't have to make any changes if we raise enough money.'
Barman said that he would bring his business background to the table to help the current budget crisis. 'I'm in the business of pennies,' he said. 'At gas stations, every penny matters. I understand budget. I run a $40 million company.
'But mostly what I'd bring is being able to bring people together, going out … and finding solutions, asking people to engage,' he said. 'I want to listen to people. You can find great solutions if you just listen.'
DiVergilio has worked for GE Capital for the last 10 years, and has also worked for Wells Fargo Financial Leasing and Bombardier Capital. She has an MBA from Marylhurst University with a concentration in finance.
New to the district, DiVergilio has a daughter Tessa in kindergarten at Bryant Elementary School and another daughter Aliya who will be in pre-K in the fall. She has gotten her feet wet as a parent volunteer at the school and now wants to take the leap to school board.
'I haven't been in Lake Oswego as long as a lot of people, so I bring a lot of ideas that haven't been used in this district,' said DiVergilio, who moved to Lake Oswego five years ago for the good schools.
She hopes to represent parents with younger children on a board that is currently represented by parents of secondary students or graduates.
DiVergilio is not in favor of closing three elementary schools and said that closing one should provide a 'similar economic benefit.
'There are some ideas about how we can structure our schools and our programs and we need to be listening to the community,' she said.
Additionally, she is unhappy about the process of selecting a new configuration model.
'The one thing they've never had is public vetting about middle schools,' she said.
'Having watched the process over the last few months … there is a lot of information given to the board … but very little dialogue going on between board members,' she said. 'No one's really asking any questions or providing information about how they feel about the information.'
DiVergilio hopes to change that.
She said that her financial background will serve the school district well. DiVergilio is also a past treasurer and board member at a local chapter of a nationwide non-profit organization that advocates and raises money to improve the quality of life for women and children.
Monroe's career background is in pharmaceutical sales and grassroots consulting, though she is not currently employed. She is co-owner of a family owned business, Thermal Supply Inc., which is a wholesale distributor of refrigeration, HVAC and food service parts, equipment and supplies. The business is operated by her husband Mike Monroe.
The Monroes have lived in the area since 1992, including about seven years when they lived in Tualatin.
'When it was time for our oldest child to begin kindergarten we returned to Lake Oswego because of the excellent schools,' said Monroe.
She has been involved as a Palisades Elementary School Advisory Committee member, Palisades PTO president, school district Coordinating Council member and Consolidation Committee member.
Monroe was at the helm of the PTO when Palisades experienced the tragic loss of a student in 2008. She helped facilitate communication with the school community, the media and the family of the student.
'It was comforting to be a part of a community that cared so deeply about one another in the aftermath of the sad event,' she said. 'I was also a part of the committee which planned a memorial bench and dedication ceremony in remembrance of the student.'
She has also helped organize fundraisers, initiated the pilot of a sixth grade student leadership program, arranged an assembly with the Portland Trailblazers and maintained a balanced budget for the PTO.
'I will bring a disciplined approach to budgets and pledge to make fiscally responsible decisions that provide the greatest education benefits to our children,' she said.
Monroe did not name a specific school closure scenario that she favored saying, 'quite simply, there are no great options.'
She said she would 'consider all available options and make the best decisions possible with regards to the preservation of programs, teachers and buildings.'
Monroe's daughter Ann is a seventh grader at Waluga Junior High, and her son Marcus is a fifth grader at Palisades.
'As the parent of one elementary student and one junior high student, I will provide a valuable perspective - no current board member has children younger than high school age,' she added.
The perspective would be important in the implementation of a 6-8 middle school, should the board choose to move forward, she said.