Tigard-Tualatin School Board race is on
The three incumbents all have challengers in May election
When Barry Albertson, Dana Terhune and Maureen Wolf ran for the Tigard-Tualatin School Board four years ago, they did so unopposed.
This year, each faces at least one challenger.
Five candidates have challenged the three incumbents in this years race for the School Board, and voters will decide in May who will earn seats on the Tigard-Tualatin School Board beginning July 1.
In Position 1, Albertson, a longtime School Board member, is running for his fourth consecutive term against a political newcomer.
A well-known figure in Tigard-Tualatin schools for years, Albertson said this would be his final term in office and said he wants to finish what he started when he was first elected in 2001.
"I want to be able to add stuff back," Albertson said.
The district has gone through several rounds of budget cuts in the last 12 years, and Albertson said he'd like to add back at least some of the programs he has had to get rid of over the past several years.
"With any luck the budget and economy will turn around, and we'll start to get people in the Legislature that will really believe in a quality education model, and when that happens, we'll be adding stuff back," he said.
Challenging Albertson is Moses Bullock. A father of three, Bullock said he wants to be on the board so that he can better understand the way his sons are being taught.
"In today's quick-changing environment, I feel like I have to have a finger on the pulse of children's education," he said.
If elected, Bullock said he would focus on the district's curriculum, learning how it is vetted and makes its way into the schools.
"I want to make sure that it's accurate and relevant," he said. "I have the same general concerns that all parents should have for what our children are being taught. They are the future of our country, and the better we prepare them, the better the nation looks."
The most-contested race is against Dana Terhune in Position 3. Terhune, who is seeking her second term on the board, faces two major challengers and a third candidate who decided to drop out after filing.
Terhune, who previously was president of the Foundation for Tigard Tualatin Schools, said that her first term was spent getting up to speed on many of the issues. Now fully prepped, she said she's ready to be more involved.
"I am still deeply passionate about the schools, and there is still a lot to get done," she said. "I understand the system better now and am hoping to do more. There was just so many things that I didn't understand when I was first elected, like the school budget and how that all came together. There are so many moving pieces to the schools."
Terhune's most high-profile challenger is John Goodhouse, who ran unsuccessful campaigns for the Legislature last year and for the Tigard City Council in 2010.
Goodhouse said he still has his sights set on the Legislature in the future but said that while campaigning, he realized many of his issues were related to providing a quality education for kids.
"It seemed almost my whole campaign was about education," said Goodhouse, a lifelong Tigard resident.
Goodhouse said he would like to see a deeper focus on offering trade programs where students who aren't interested in going to college can learn necessary skills to get a job in the real world.
"We need to set up our kids for life, and we are missing the mark on that in certain areas," he said.
Goodhouse, a supporter of charter schools and voucher programs, said he'd like to see more choice in the classroom and around the district.
"If we can focus on thinking outside the box, with business partnerships with industries or charter schools or more online programs, we'll succeed," he said.
The third challenger for Position 3 is attorney David Matheson, who said, "I'm running for the School Board because I am deeply committed to public education. As a concerned parent, I want the district to be the best it can be for my children and for all students, so that they can achieve their potential."
A corporate attorney, Matheson said his professional experience has prepared him for working with the district's $100 million annual budget.
"I deal with business issues, financial matters, legal matters, analysis and problem-solving, and that all comes to bear on a school board," he said.
The district approved a plan last year to enroll all Tigard High School freshmen in Advanced English, which district leaders said would push students to perform better. Some parents, including Matheson, said the change would drag down the curriculum and not let higher-performing students perform at their full capacity.
One challenger the other three candidates for Position 3 won't have to worry about is William Barber, a dentist who backed out of the race after he realized he had filed for the wrong position.
Barber, who said he had originally wanted to run in Position 5, said he wasn't passionate about running and ultimately decided it wasn't worth it.
"I didn't really want to run for School Board anyway," Barber told The Times.
It's too late for Barber to take his name off the ballot, but he said he won't be campaigning and said he hopes "not a single vote goes to me."
In Position 5, board Chairwoman Maureen Wolf is seeking her second term in office against challenger Michael Bednarek.
Wolf is the former president of the Foundation for Tigard Tualatin Schools and member of the Budget Committee.
Like Terhune, Wolf said that she has spent the last few years learning about the district and has a clearer picture of what she wants to accomplish.
Wolf's focus is on the district's middle schools, where she has pushed for a better transition for students between middle and high school.
"Literacy is a big push in elementary school, but what is there at middle school?" she asked.
Wolf said that along with adding back to the district's reserve funds, the biggest hurdle will be getting students equipped for new state standards that take effect next year.
"It's a shift in expectations," she said. "What would have exceeded in old scores is more of where they want you to meet."
Wolf's challenger, Bednarek, said he wanted to run because he was tired of the School Board "kowtowing to the teachers and hired lobbyists."
Bednarek said cuts in the district have hurt students' education. "It's not about the kids anymore, it's about politics," he said.
Bednarek said that he would find money for programs by making cuts to employee benefits packages.
"When is the last time you had a raise?" he asked. "I haven't had raise in years. There's plenty of money in the salary and benefits packages. Our teachers make about $26 an hour for working 32 weeks a year, 7½ hours a day."
Bednarek said that the district's decision to force student athletes to pay fees to play sports should be eliminated, and language courses such as Mandarin Chinese and German should be reinstated.
In all, Bednarek said, members of the School Board seem to be out of touch with what most people are going through.
"It is a joke for people in this district that we are teaching Mexican in the schools so that (School Board members') kids can talk to their gardener."
Bednarek said he doesn't expect to win a seat on the board but called his campaign "a protest."
"I say it like it is," he said. "I will not be bullied by anybody."