Featured Stories

Running again

Sheinin, Swindells seek re-election
by: Vern Uyetake, 
Lake Oswego School Board member Bill Swindells, left, and board Chair Curt Sheinin plan to run for re-election in February.

Curt Sheinin and Bill Swindells enjoy making the tough decisions for the Lake Oswego School District so much, they'd like to do it again - for another four years.

The men, both Lake Oswego School Board members, announced their intent to run for re-election at the board's Jan. 22 meeting.

Sheinin seeks to regain Position 5, while Swindells is aiming once again for Position 1. Sheinin, now board chair, assumed the role after Swindells wrapped up his year as chair.

Both individuals have strong financial and business backgrounds that serve the board well, said Superintendent Bill Korach

'They're both tremendous contributors and they're bright, thoughtful people,' Korach said. 'What strikes me about the both of them is their ability to challenge what we do and contribute. They both do a great job of that.'

In 2002, both Lake Oswego residents ran unopposed, and, so far, it looks as though campaign strategies won't be necessary again this year.

No one has expressed interest in running against them, according to Korach. Typically, individuals meet with Korach and sit in on several board meetings to get a feel for the process weeks before they announce candidacy.

'We haven't had anybody definitely committing to run, but … who knows,' Korach said.

In any case, candidates can file to run for the positions starting Feb. 5 at the Clackamas County Elections Office in Oregon City. According to Nancy Duin, district communications coordinator, candidates must be 18 years old and residents of Lake Oswego.

Responsibilities include attending two monthly meetings, working with the school community and public and potentially joining ad-hoc committees.

'It's a lot of your time and it's the best you have to give,' Korach said. 'We deal with a lot of issues and they make a lot of decisions.'

The board election will be held May 15.

The past four years have brought major changes to the district, including the rebuilding of both high schools and the addition of many new teachers.

In that time, Sheinin and Swindells helped the district weather budget cuts and watched annual donations to the Lake Oswego School District Foundation expand from $600,000 to nearly $2 million.

They learned first-hand about the board's role as a communicator and accountability holder to the administration.

Most of all, both men made choices they take pride in - despite the skeptics.

'We can't please everyone with our decisions,' Sheinin said. 'We have to weigh pros and cons … balance fiscal responsibility versus our responsibility to our students.'

Both men say they don't have agendas for the posts.

CURT SHEININ

A keen listener who's never one to speak out of turn, Sheinin brings a sense of calm to the board.

He moved his family here 20 years ago, specifically because of the district's top-notch reputation, and immediately got involved.

He volunteered as a youth sports coach and, for the past 12 years, has coached the Lakeridge High School boys varsity lacrosse team to multiple state championships.

After serving on a number of committees, including the Pacer Athletic Club and Lakeridge Design Advisory Committee, he sought to become more immersed in the district, so he ran for a position on the board.

'It's great being part of a winning team in a school district that's been successful doing what it does best, which is educating our kids,' he said.

Like Swindells, Sheinin comes to the board with years of business experience.

Sheinin is the owner and vice president of Brand Innovators, which markets and distributes promotional products and team athletic supplies. He and his wife, Kathy, have a son, Rick, who is a graduate student at Claremont McKenna College. Their daughter, Michelle, is a junior at Chapman University.

Always a big believer in the public school system, Sheinin looks forward to collecting as much information and maximize resources the district can to help improve graduation rates and broaden class offerings.

Upcoming topics he's concerned about include the declining enrollment issue ('Stopping the slide' as Sheinin calls it) and working with the foundation to maintain - or expand - staff.

Keeping the district out of the red financially will also be an ongoing task, he said.

'Things are looking good, but that could change,' he said. 'You never know what can happen when the economy turns … We don't take anything for granted.'

BILL SWINDELLS

According to Swindells - a man with a long volunteer resumé - working on the board is the 'ultimate volunteer job.'

And he says he's gotten nothing but gratitude since the day he started.

'We're not doing it because we want to look like we're in charge as much as we want to contribute,' he said.

Swindells, whose board term was his first experience working in schools, likes to connect his service to the advancement of students.

He calls himself a 'generalist,' or one who doesn't have expertise in one specific area, but a sweeping knowledge about many things.

It's no wonder. Swindells has served on a number of boards for non-profit organizations, such as Oregon Public Broadcasting and, currently, the Trillium Family Services Board of Trustees.

In the past, he's also helped guide educational institutions such as Jesuit High School, Clackamas Community College Foundation and the University of Oregon Foun-dation.

'I'm collecting experiences to help make the state's public education system as good as it can be,' he said.

Originally, he viewed the district's problems as a challenge he could thrive on. As a board member and then its chair, he got a crash course in how a board functions in front of the public.

'There's a sensitivity toward everything we do and say,' he said. You can't sit there and brainstorm or speculate because it becomes part of a public record.'

He was relieved to move through school construction and the turf field debate to get to the district's core responsibilities - graduating well-prepared kids and finding stability in funding.

'I like being an insider and having first-hand knowledge about how it all works and communicating how it works,' he said.

Swindells, who has a great deal of experience crunching numbers and looking at budgets, can certainly offer help with the latter.

He currently works in WRS Investments in independent real estate development.

He and his wife, Kimberly, have four children. Whitney is a student at Santa Clara University and Peter is a student at University of Oregon. Twins Megan and Matthew are freshmen at Lake Oswego High School.

If he's re-elected to the board, Swindells will have the chance to speak at the twins' graduation and hand them their diplomas.

And that's a chance he'd like to take.