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School board race for No. 5 position features 3 quality candidates

My, my, what a luxury Lake Oswego has in the race for Lake Oswego School Board, position No. 5.

Even if you, the voter, covered your eyes and threw a dart at a dartboard with the names of the three candidates in the running, you would hit a bull's-eye no matter what. Tempting as that approach might be for the electorate, we would advocate for putting more thought and methodology into your decision-making process.

Still, it's a win-win for voters and the school district because Audrey Monroe, Tamara DiVergilio and Bob Barman are all quality people who bring their A game to the table. All have strong business backgrounds and all would be good additions to the board.

Thanks to the three of you for giving of your time and energy as you pursue what will undoubtedly be a tough job: Being a school board member at a time of unprecedented financial woe.

It's no fun to take a quality product like the school district (remember, all 13 schools received an 'outstanding' rating on the state report card last fall for the fourth year in a row) and have to dismantle portions of it due to a continuing down fiscal climate in the state. That's why our story today on page 1 is so disheartening: Monday, the school board voted unanimously - and we know begrudgingly - to close Palisades Elementary School at the end of this year, then close Uplands and Bryant elementary schools next year (Bryant will be reconfigured as part of Waluga Middle School).

For a district, a city and a parental community that prides itself on high educational standards and quality, this is beyond demoralizing. And while there will be those critical of the choices the school board made, the reality is there was not another legitimate choice given the financial woes facing the district.

Election day is May 17, meaning that the vote-by-mail ballots that arrive at your residences this week must be turned in no later than 8 p.m. that day. Ballots may be mailed back, taken to the Clackamas County Elections office in Oregon City or deposited in the special elections box in front of the Lake Oswego Public Library.

DiVergilio, Barman and Monroe all bring certain strengths to the table and, if any of them had already been on the board, might possibly have worked to do some things differently. No matter what, however, any of them would have been hard pressed to overcome the crux of the problem: The district is facing a minimum state budget shortfall of $5.5 million in each of the next two years.

Barman is probably the best known of the candidates, having been very visible at Waluga Junior High and Lakeridge High schools in a variety of parental roles. He was instrumental in initiating a parent drug and alcohol awareness program at Waluga and helping bring home football games to Lakeridge. He also has been a prolific fundraiser in the district. He and his wife have two children at LHS. Barman holds a degree in economics from UCLA.

Monroe also has a high level of visibility in the district. She has held top parental posts at Palisades, served on the district's Coordinating Council, School Advisory Committee and Consolidation Committee. She and her husband have children at the elementary and middle school levels. Monroe holds a degree in political science from the University of Oregon.

DiVergilio is the least known of the three and also, with her husband, has the youngest children (two of them). She is concerned about the transparency of the decision-making process in the district, specifically noting concerns about the school consolidation process. She has no prior governmental experience. DiVergilio holds a degree in business and political science from the University of Washington and aN MBA from Marylhurst University.

As we noted above, all three are worthy. We are going to give a slight nod to Barman for his remarkable ability to raise funds. In fact, if there was a fundraiser slot open for the board, this is where we would most like to see him use his talents. His high level of energy is noteworthy because it fairly oozes out of him. We do caution that he will need to keep that emotional side of him in check at times so as not to get in the way of doing business on the school board.