The considerable progress made by the Portland school board in the past few years can be continued and enhanced with the addition of one newcomer and the re-election of three incumbents. In the first half of this decade, the board endured tough challenges as enrollment and revenues declined within Oregon’s largest school district. In responding, we believe the school board and Superintendent Vicki Phillips overall have done a commendable job and have placed the district on stronger footing for the future. But we also believe every elected board needs an infusion of fresh ideas. For that reason, we recommend that in the May 15 election voters retain board member David Wynde while also electing a newcomer — Ruth Adkins. Wynde and Adkins are involved in the Portland board’s only two contested races. Two other board incumbents — Bobbie Regan and Dilafruz Williams — are running unopposed. Here are our recommendations: Zone 1: Ruth Adkins Our endorsement of Adkins is no reflection on the substantial contributions made by incumbent Doug Morgan in his first four-year term. Morgan, who has a grandson in the school district, is director of the Executive Leadership Institute at Portland State University’s school of government. He exhibits a passion for educational excellence and has been a consistent voice supporting Phillips’ leadership. Morgan appropriately says the board has led the district through the trauma of school closures and onto more stable financial ground. However, voters should not dismiss the potential of the energetic Adkins — a market research analyst and parent of three children currently in school. Adkins has proved her community credentials with volunteer work in the schools and elsewhere. She would come to the board as a strong advocate for neighborhoods. She believes school administrators and the board must do a better job of communicating with constituents. Adkins also has worthwhile notions for how the district and other agencies can work to stop the flow of young families from the city. Adkins would be strongly independent and probing in her questions. As a new board member, Adkins must learn she no longer is in a pure advocacy role, but that her focus will shift to acting as evaluator and policymaker. We are confident, however, that she will be a cooperative member of the board while also serving as a leader who appropriately will challenge the status quo. Frankly, we also give weight to the fact that Adkins has a child at each level in Portland Public Schools — elementary, middle and high school. That means she is vested in a positive outcome for schools and will bring a sense of urgency to the job. Zone 2: David Wynde Wynde, a vice president at U.S. Bank, has been a strong and highly engaged board member for the past four years. Both he and his opponent, Michele Schultz, have two children in school. Schultz wants to improve communication within the district and says that standardized tests are an incomplete method for measuring school and student achievement. We believe Schultz, with further seasoning, could be a solid future candidate. But for now, the school board needs Wynde — a highly articulate and effective board member who has helped lead the district through some of its most difficult days. He understands the urgency of improving — not just stabilizing — Portland Public Schools, and we think he has the tools to continue to get the job done well.

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