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Buel to challenge Gonzalez for school board

Steve Buel, a former Portland School Board member and outspoken Portland Public Schools watchdog, is making another run for the board.

Buel, who lives on Hayden Island, has filed to challenge incumbent Martin Gonzalez for the Zone 4 seat, the geographic area that includes Roosevelt High School.

Gonzalez is president of the Latino Network, and ran for the board as an activist.

He was first elected to fill a vacancy mid-term, then won election to a full term in 2009 — beating Buel and candidate Rita Moore, also a PPS watchdog.

Gonzalez secured 50 percent of the vote in that race, while Buel and Moore brought in 23.7 percent and Moore 24.6 percent.

Buel has been a teacher for 45 years, most recently in the Vancouver, Wash. Evergreen School District.

He served on the Portland School Board from 1979 to 1983.

In his 2009 bid for the school board, Buel wrote in his Voter's Pamphlet statement that: "The Portland School Board continues to dance around many of the most critical issues facing Portland's schools."

He listed his priorites, many of which — if they still stand — would shake things up on the current board.

Those include de-emphasizing testing, returning Jefferson High to a comprehensive school and returning Benson Tech "to prominence." His other priorities then included supporting "good, solid neighborhood schools," facilitating better community input, and better engaging students to prevent dropouts.

Buel was co-author of the 1980 school desegregation plan, which ended forced busing of black students to schools outside their neighborhoods.

He frequently wrote about racism and other topics on the now-defunct watchdog site, PPS Equity. His posts can be viewed here: http://ppsequity.org/author/sbuel/.

The school board election is May 21.