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Incumbent Bobbie Regan seeks fourth schools term

Victory would make Regan longest-serving woman on PPS board

PHOTO COURTESY MIKE SCHOENHOLTZ - Bobbie Regan, a school board member since 2003, is running for her fourth four-year term. Regan says her priorities are improving the graduation rate, funneling money into the classrooms, holding the superintendent accountable, and remodeling schools.

When Bobbie Regan demanded to go to public school in eighth grade, a Catholic nun at her upstate New York private school sat her down and cried that she would be throwing her life away.

“I just keep thinking: ‘Oh my gosh, if she could see me now,’” Regan says.

A long-time schools volunteer, Regan is running for her fourth term on the Portland Public Schools board, the only incumbent in the May 19 race.

She can’t rest on her reputation, though. Amy Kohnstamm — a formidable opponent as former co-chair of the Portland Schools Foundation (now called All Hands Raised) — threw her hat in the ring for northwestern Zone 3 as well. So far, Regan has raised more than $12,000 from a slew of supporters including city Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Steve Novick.

Regan says that contrary to the nun’s expectations, she believes public school saved her from parents who struggled with addiction and mental illness.

“School was my safe haven; it was my safe place. It was the only place where I had structure in my life,” Regan says. “The reason that I’m doing this work is because I believe simply in public education, and I believe that every one of our kids has the potential to achieve at a really high level if we are there for them and if we give them the supports they need.”

If she wins, Regan will have been in the PPS school board biz longer than almost anyone else. The longest-serving member of the board is J.V. Beach during the 21 years from 1896 to 1917. Richard Williams, 1891 to 1906, and Forrest Rieke, 1978 to 1993, each served 15 years.

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici is a longtime friend of Regan's.

“While I was in the Oregon Legislature, I participated in a committee that Bobbie chaired," Bonamici said. “The group’s mission was to review and update Oregon’s charter school laws, and I was impressed with Bobbie’s professionalism and her ability to work with diverse stakeholders to find consensus.”

Regan says she wants to stay on the board to see several projects through, especially now that the economy is improving.

“It’s very clear that we have so much more to do,” she says, noting a higher graduation rate and longer school calendar than when she began. “The things that make kids want to get out of bed in the morning are the things we need to be adding back.”

By Shasta Kearns Moore
email: shasta@portlandtribune.com
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