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Sheinin takes charge of the Lake Oswego School Board

by: VERN UYETAKE, Curt Sheinin is the new chairman of the Lake Oswego School Board.

As head coach of boys lacrosse at Lakeridge High School, Curt Sheinin has led seven teams to a state championship title using expert tactics and guidance.

But Sheinin isn't the type to boast or talk at length about his achievements.

Nor is he the type who gets worked up when a game goes sour.

In fact, when he switches roles from coach to board member of the Lake Oswego School Board, he's the quietest of the bunch.

'He'll underwhelm you … He chooses his words very carefully,' said board member Bill Swindells. 'Other board members like to let everyone know how they feel about everything.'

Sheinin, a four-year board member, will be expected to express his opinion a lot more starting Wednesday when he runs his first meeting as the new board chair.

As chair, it will be Sheinin's job to keep meetings on task, direct comments from members and to help establish the tone for the board.

Swindells, the outgoing board chair, feels confident in Sheinin's abilities to lead the board, despite his mellow demeanor.

'He's a very sound thinker,' Swindells said. 'He's got all the right perspectives.'

Additionally, Sheinin will guide the course for the board and work closely with Superintendent Bill Korach to shape the board's agenda for the upcoming year.

In other words, he's the go-to guy.

'I guess you would say I'm the point person for the board in terms of communication with the board and district,' Sheinin said. 'There's certainly more responsibilities in terms of the community.'

The position of chair rotates among board members each year. Swindells served as chair through July 1, when Sheinin took the reins and immediately went to work.

He's already met several times with Korach to discuss 'several minor issues,' he said.

In the spring, board members created a set of priorities they will tackle during the upcoming school year.

Top issues include focusing the Respectful Culture agenda, moving forward on artificial turf field construction for the high schools, evaluating the district's Talented and Gifted program and working to fight the declining enrollment problem that's plagued the district for several years.

This year also also will see a salary negotiation between the district and its staff.

'We're going to look at making the best use of money because we have a responsibility to the taxpayers,' Sheinin said.

'I do think the district is certainly moving in the right direction and I want to keep that momentum going.'

For Sheinin, the board chair position follows the natural progression that many board members follow. First, they volunteer on school committees, then they serve full-time on committees and eventually move into major fundraising projects.

Sheinin, the former president of the Pacer Athletic Club and a long-time parent volunteer, has two children who grew up in the district and graduated from Lakeridge.

He also served on the Site Council at Lakeridge and on the SAC Committee. He's been a baseball, soccer, youth football and lacrosse coach in Lake Oswego for 18 years, and runs a marketing company out of Tigard in the meantime.

'I do see my wife occasionally,' he joked.

The position especially works with Sheinin's relation to the district because of his constant involvement with administrators, students and parents as a coach.

Sheinin's game plan includes staying organized and keeping the board focused on the topic at hand to accomplish more for the students, who are his No. 1 priority.

While Sheinin speaks of his new job enthusiastically, Swindells voiced some sadness about handing over the gavel.

'Being chair is a lot more rewarding and fulfilling than just being a regular board member,' Swindells said. 'It's easier to be engaged.'

The most challenging part of the job, Swindells said, is knowing what battles to pick and when to pick them as opposed to trying to please everyone at once.

Sheinin's laid-back nature may work to his benefit, Swindells added.

'If somebody else says something you agree with, you shouldn't say anything just to hear yourself speak,' he said. 'But, if you think something else needs to be said, it's nice because you get to have the last word.'

As for public speaking, it's a challenge that Sheinin may have to grow accustomed to.

'Oh, I can do it,' he said, pausing to chuckle. 'No comment there, OK?'