Election 2013: Two hopefuls battle Terhune for Position 3
Matheson and Goodhouse offer choice for voters in School Board race
The Times asked Tigard-Tualatin School Board candidates to complete a survey to help the community to learn more about them and their education perspectives.
The candidates responses have been edited for length. We hope this information helps you cast your vote in the May 21 election.
Incumbent: Dana Terhune
Family: She has two children, Morgan, 16, and Cole, 13.
Job and education background: She serves as a community volunteer. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in business administration from the University of Oregon.
Neighborhood she lives in: Fox Hill in Tualatin
Length of time living within the school district: 11 years
School involvement and community service experience: At the district level: Tigard-Tualatin School Board, 2009-present; Budget Committee, 2009-present; Visioning Committee, 2007-2008; Smart Sustainable Schools (S3) Committee, 2010-2011; Science Curriculum Adoption Committee, 2010-2011; Long-Range Facility Planning Committee, 2009-2011; Local Option Levy Steering Committee, 2004 and 2008; and Construction and Technology Bond Levy Steering Committee, 2011. At the school level: Bridgeport PTA member, 2002-2010, president, 2004-2005; Bridgeport Site Council, 2004-2005; Bridgeport classroom volunteer, 2002-2010; Hazelbrook classroom volunteer, 2009-2012; and TuHS Choir Booster volunteer, 2011-present. In the community: The Foundation for Tigard Tualatin Schools, 2004-2012, treasurer, 2005-2006, and president, 2006-2007; and Tualatin Tomorrow Advisory Committee, 2010-present.
What skills, knowledge and experiences do you bring to the School Board? I have been involved with the school district since my daughter started kindergarten in 2002. I started out working at the school level and expanded my involvement to the district level shortly after and have been involved at both the school and district level ever since. During the past four years on the School Board, I have developed a deeper understanding of the inner-workings of the school district and the budget. We are still facing tough financial times with our school district budget due to the lack of adequate funding coming from the state. I have the experience and knowledge needed during these tough budget years to make sure every child gets an excellent education.
Why are you running? I am running because I am committed to our students and our community. The students of today are the work force of tomorrow. Every single one of our students needs a quality education, and I will continue to work hard to make sure all students in our district receive that quality education. Our community expects nothing less, and neither do I.
How should the school district prioritize spending? I am very glad you asked this question. Our school district should prioritize spending around what is best for the students and do so by listening to teachers, parents, students and the community. Every decision that is made needs to be run through this filter: How will this help student achievement and learning? If we apply that standard consistently, we can prioritize spending in a way that allows every student to build a foundation for future success. If we apply that standard inconsistently based on playing favorites or political pressure, spending will be prioritized in a way that harms student learning. I have worked too hard for too long to let that happen without a fight.
What school issue have you tackled at a school building or district level? Have you worked to resolve or address a concern within the Tigard-Tualatin School District? Enhancing student learning by concentrating on the school district budget is the issue I tackle. This budget has become my focus as much out of necessity as anything else because our revenues from the state have not kept up with our needs. During my first term as a School Board member, I found myself becoming a compassionate budget hawk prioritizing students first and putting money back into the classroom. I ask tough questions and follow up doggedly whenever taxpayer dollars might be better spent elsewhere. At the same time, I recognize our teachers and administrators work incredibly hard for our students. My focus on the school district budget means making sure dollars are dedicated in the most productive way possible with the highest return on investment possible for all of our students.
Whats one issue the School Board tackled that you wish had turned out differently? What went wrong? Before my tenure on the School Board, I watched them tackle math adoption in 2008. While the chosen curriculum was vetted through the usual process, the adopted curriculum was very different from what people are used to, and the process did not effectively allow our community to be genuinely heard on the issue. Parents in particular had a hard time helping their children with math because the textbook was in a completely different format, and the parents werent able to help their kids. This led to serious and understandable frustration, and the School Board ultimately decided to go with a hybrid approach for the curriculum. This process left a sour taste in everyones mouth. During my tenure, I have worked hard by listening carefully to everyone involved to ensure we never repeat that situation.
What is an initiative you feel turned out well, and what made it work? Starting the dual-language immersion program at Metzger last fall and getting ready to start one at Bridgeport this fall is very exciting. The program is a win-win for all students in the program from our English language learners to our talented and gifted students. We were also able to start the dual-language program in a time of extreme budget constraints without taking additional money out of the general fund. A couple of factors made this a success. First, the teachers and community were in full support of starting the program last year at Metzger. During my tenure on the board, I have never experienced nearly every single teacher at one school attend a board meeting to show their support of starting a new initiative. In addition, the fact that it is self-sustaining and is not drawing more resources out of the budget is paramount. I look forward to seeing the dual-language immersion program grow at Metzger, Bridgeport and even more schools in the future.
The school district faces a number of looming issues. What should it deal with now, and how? Which should be priorities for later? The budget has been the looming issue since I have served. We have continually faced cuts. We are still facing cuts right now for next year. Our priority needs to be to provide the best education experience for our students with our limited resources.
What should voters know about you? I am a fair, hard-working individual. I have strong values and integrity and expect the school district to have strong values and integrity as well. I care a lot about our community and the people within it. I want all of our students to receive a great education.
How do you plan to encourage citizen involvement/engagement within the district? The district has pretty well established formal processes for community engagement. During my tenure on the board, weve had tremendous input during public comment at board meetings as well as good attendance at district-wide community meetings such as budget meetings, curriculum adoption input, visioning, etc. What I have noticed is a lack of informal communication. If re-elected, I plan on holding monthly community meetings at different schools in the district. This will give a chance for anyone teachers, parents, students, community members to let their voice be heard.
What distinguishes you from your opponents? I have an 11-year track record of working with the school district at all levels. I am also on the School Board because I care about our students. I am not running for this office as a stepping stone for my next political move. I am on the School Board because I want to make sure our community retains the quality education we expect.
What is your leadership style and how will you work with the superintendent, other members of the board and district staff? As vice-chair of the board for the past two years, I have excellent working relationships with teachers, parents and students in addition to the superintendent, district staff and fellow board members. I listen to multiple perspectives and research issues thoroughly before arriving at a conclusion. I ask clarifying questions when needed. I am a collaborator and like working with people instead of against them. I find when everyone is on board with an issue, the process moves a lot smoother and has much better results than when there is tension and disagreement.
Challenger: David Matheson
Family: He and his wife Lynn have been married for 23 years. They have four children Erin,18, a Tigard graduate; Mallory, 15, a THS freshman; McKenna, 13, a Twality Middle School seventh-grader; and Brandon, 11, a fifth-grader at Templeton Elementary.
Job and education background: I have been a corporate attorney for 22 years, with expertise in advising boards of directors, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions and employment agreements. I am a partner at Perkins Coie LLP and am recognized as a leader in the Portland market in areas of my legal practice. I hold degrees from: Stanford University, BA in English, with distinction, and University of California at Los Angeles, JD/MBA.
Neighborhood you live in: Cook Park neighborhood in Tigard
Length of time living within the school district: 18 years
School involvement and community service experience: School Involvement: District Superintendent Screening Committee, parent volunteer for Twality Middle School theater production and judge for Tigard High School speech and debate tournaments. Community Service: Oregon State Bar, past chair of Securities Regulation Section; Oregon State Bar, treasurer of Business Law Section; volunteer church service; and Bay Area Big Brothers.
What skills, knowledge and experiences do you bring to the School Board? My campaign website, www.MathesonforTigardTualatinSchools.com, provides information about my background and priorities for the Tigard-Tualatin School District. It also includes many endorsements from teachers and community members about my ability to serve effectively on the School Board. The website is available in English and Spanish. I consider myself highly qualified for School Board service due to my: deep commitment to quality public school education in the district; personal understanding of challenges facing teachers; and professional experience and common sense.
Personal Commitment. I am a product of public K-12 education and believe in the benefits to individuals and communities of strong public schools. I have a personal commitment to making our schools the best they can be for my own four children and for all students.
Firsthand understanding of teacher challenges and impact. My parents and my wife have all been public school teachers. I understand the day-to-day challenges and stresses facing teachers. I also understand the lasting, incredible impact that diligent and caring teachers can have on students. My wife, Lynn, taught third and fourth grade at a very ethnically and socio-economically diverse public school in Los Angeles, Calif. Lynn taught on a limited budget in a crowded, portable classroom. Her classes often included multiple students with severe emotional and learning challenges. Lynn emphasized effort, academics, respect and fun. She started her workdays early and continued grading papers and preparing for the next day long after the final bell rang. I helped grade my share of classwork. Over the years, we occasionally have met former students. Their affection and appreciation for Lynn reflects the impact she had on their lives. This is the same response I have heard from former students of my mother, who taught first and second grade for over 20 years. It is also the way Lynn and I feel about many teachers who have taught and supported our children across all grade levels in the district.
Communication, analytical and problem-solving skills and experience. For over 20 years I have been a corporate attorney. I routinely advise boards of directors about their duties and deal with complex business, legal and financial matters. This experience qualifies me for the oversight role of the School Board and to understand the business aspects of running the District, which has a budget of over $100 million and covers approximately 12,000 students. Because of this experience, I am prepared to contribute to the board without the need for an extensive ramping up period. In addition, the listening, analytical, problem-solving and communication skills I have developed will make me an effective board member. My experience with Latino culture, having lived in Chile for two years, and my semi-fluency in Spanish expand my ability to communicate effectively with a broader group of parents and students.
Why are you running? Education and learning are vital. Good schools help create able individuals and good communities. Better schools help create better individuals and better communities. I am deeply committed to helping to make the district schools the best they can be.
I am running for the School Board because I am passionate about public education and believe I possess the commitment, skills and experience to help improve the district schools. Public education directly improved my life. My four children have spent all of their existing K-12 educational experiences in the Tigard-Tualatin School District. As a concerned parent, I want the district to be the best it can be for them and for all students. To the extent our students increase their knowledge and develop an ability to think and communicate more effectively, they will increase their future opportunities. Better graduates also contribute to better communities.
How should the school district prioritize spending? The test for all district financial and non-financial decisions should be Is the expected result of the decision in the best interests of both current and future students? We need to consider both the short-term and long-term impact on our students of our districts spending decisions.
Unfortunately, the amount of year-to-year educational funding from the government is unpredictable. As a result, we need to anticipate fluctuations in the amount of funds we receive annually. We need to use wisely the funds the district receives and seek to influence the amount of funds the government allocates to education.
I disagree with applying spending cuts equally across the various existing budget categories of the district. This approach perpetuates any existing budgeting misallocations and is contrary to applying all decisions against the best for students test above. Instead, I propose that a general spectrum of proposed expenditures be developed, with one end being expenditures that most effectively meet the above test, and at the other end being expenditures that are least effective. By cutting our least-effective spending, we more efficiently use the amount of funds actually allocated to us, and reduce the impact of annual fluctuations.
As stated above, we need to prioritize spending to make sure it produces the best relative returns to students. Good teachers are one of the most significant factors in increasing student performance. Factors such as facilities, as long as they are safe and adequate, are shown to be secondary in terms of affecting student performance. We need to seek stability in our quality teaching ranks as a priority. The District's 2013-2014 budget called for teacher reductions that could significantly increase class sizes. I would avoid cuts to the teacher ranks if possible. If cuts are necessary, I support fewer school days (subject to teacher union approvals) and fewer teacher position reductions. For each reduction of three school days, the district saves about $1 million. If the district does not reduce school days, my fear is that increased classroom sizes will harm the quality of education every day. Given this difficult choice, I would favor less quantity and better quality classroom instruction. We also will save money and achieve performance gains over time by investing in early education and intervention. The stitch in time saves nine wisdom applies to education. Investing in the early monitoring and prevention of student difficulties is more efficient than allowing difficulties to progress and then trying to resolve bigger and more expensive difficulties later. Careful study of potential new programs is also required to ensure returns match expectations and to consider the disruption to teachers and students of frequent curriculum changes.
We should also preserve funding for electives, and avoid the uncertainty of potential cuts to major programs from year to year. Students need to have a desire to attend school. This may be based on a favorite teacher or interesting class subject. It may be friends or parental involvement. In many cases it is band, theater, speech and debate, robotics, sports or another elective or extracurricular activity. These activities enrich the lives of our students, build a sense of belonging, can promote critical thinking and teach lessons beyond those taught in the classrooms.
What school issue have you tackled at a school building or district level? Have you worked to resolve or address a concern within the Tigard-Tualatin School District? Last year, I actively spoke against the administrations elimination of advanced freshmen and sophomore English classes at Tigard High School. I disagreed with the proposal on the basis that it would result in teaching to the middle and provide too broad a range of reading levels within a single classroom for effective instruction of all students. I also was concerned deeply by the lack of transparency of the administrations proposal and communications with parents. I invested a significant amount of time reading the book, "Visual Learning," which the superintendent cited as a basis for the proposed changes, discussing the issue with other educators, analyzing the issue, preparing a written analysis and meeting with concerned parents, the superintendent and board members to discuss the issue.
From this experience arose my interest in increasing the transparency and dialogue of the administration with the public. Transparency and open dialogue are vital to ensuring trust and are among my priorities as a board member. This experience also reinforced my belief in the need for active participation by board members in fulfilling their duties.
Whats one issue the School Board tackled that you wish had turned out differently? What went wrong? In the fall of 2008, the district, with the approval of the then standing board, implemented the College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM) curriculum for grades 6-12. This unconventional math curriculum significantly changed the manner in which teachers and students interacted in the learning process. It also changed the content of the math curriculum. In May of 2009 and following strong parental opposition, the board voted to revise significantly CPM and to blend it with a traditional math curriculum. Two of my daughters were students during the CPM implementation and noted their frustration with the CPM transition. This curriculum mistake cost money, created instability in the overall math curriculum and disrupted students and teachers.
I believe two items principally went wrong in adopting the CPM curriculum. First, a lack of adequate administrative research of the substance of the program. Second, insufficient consideration by the administration of parental concerns prior to determining to proceed with an unconventional program. There is a lot required of board members, and the board will not always make the best decisions when viewed in hindsight. However, the board needs to be active in applying common sense and asking probing questions of the superintendent and administration. By doing so, it is not seeking to be uncooperative with the administration. Instead, it is fulfilling its oversight role and actually helping the administration to avoid mistakes such as CPM and to better fulfill the administrations duties.
What is an initiative you feel turned out well, and what made it work? The rainy day reserve fund established by the then existing board and administration was a terrific success. The reserve recognized the reality of economic cyclicality and provided a means of smoothing out year-to-year fluctuations, which promotes stability for students and teachers. The board resisted pressure to spend available funds during peaks in the economic cycle. Without the foresight to create the reserve, the ups and downs from year to year would have been much more pronounced and detrimental to students. This initiative worked due to the common sense of the administration and board and the willingness of the board to consider long-term as well as immediate student needs.
The school district faces a number of looming issues. What should it deal with now, and how? Which should be priorities for later? Nearer term priorities of mine for public education in the Tigard-Tualatin School District include the following:
Practicing fiscal responsibility. The district continues to face budget constraints. We need to use wisely the funds we do receive and seek to influence the amount of funds government allocates to education. I understand that the budget gap for the 2013-14 school year likely will be narrowed substantially from original projections. We should continue to analyze district spending to determine if we can reallocate funds internally to more effectively benefit our students.
Increasing trust and cooperation though transparency and open communication. Transparency in interactions builds trust. Open and regular communication improves understanding and cooperation. Parents and students need to know that administrators, teachers and School Board members are willing to listen. Teachers need to know administrators and board members listen to them. And all should expect transparent and timely communications and responses.
Focusing on early elementary education and intervention. The stitch in time saves nine wisdom applies to education.
Setting high academic expectations and providing supportive and stimulating classroom environments. Meeting challenges builds experience, skills and confidence in our students, and prepares the way for future growth. We need to set high academic standards for all students and provide a supportive environment to help them achieve their potential. Students must participate.
Increasing student analytical and communicative abilities. Life requires problem solving and communication skills. Not only must our schools meet knowledge-based standards, they must also teach our students to learn to learn and to effectively communicate their knowledge to others.
Longer term priorities of mine for public education in the district include improving coordination among district schools and restoring a reserve fund.
What should voters know about you? Voters should know that I have an appreciation of the many challenges and demands of serving on the School Board. I am a hard worker, am willing to invest the time required to serve productively on the board, and I work well with others.
How do you plan to encourage citizen involvement/engagement within the district? I believe Tigard and Tualatin residents can significantly assist the district schools. The district should request input from teachers as to potential needs that could be filled by community residents. Parents and other interested parties need to know that their participation and input is desired and that their feedback will be considered in reaching board and administration decisions.
Many Tigard and Tualatin residents possess skills that would help our schools. For example, my wife, Lynn, is a former elementary school teacher and is extremely skilled at teaching reading. Lynn has volunteered in the classroom over the years at Templeton Elementary School. She and other residents can expand available educational resources, including by helping provide a solid foundation for students requiring additional assistance. Residents could also reduce the burden on teachers by assisting with grading or reviewing appropriate assignments. This may include assignments where feedback, rather than detailed grading, is required. Residents also could provide appropriate vocational training opportunities for students, subject to appropriate qualification and monitoring.
In terms of community dialogue, the district must ensure there is a structure in place for communication and it must welcome, although not necessarily adopt, community input. The district should supplement regular site councils with community outreaches and meetings for more controversial proposals. Board members and the administration should be available for less formal communication with residents. Demonstrating a true willingness to consider community feedback and input is vital. This will convince parents and other residents that the board and administration are not conducting outreach as a way of advocating its own pre-determined positions, but to make better decisions and reach better outcomes by considering a variety of viewpoints and alternatives.
The board and superintendent should also be focused on ensuring that the administration creates an open and honest dialogue with teachers. Teachers are in a unique position to provide meaningful information and feedback to the administration to improve education. Honest input by teachers and open consideration without direct or indirect repercussions by the administration will help ensure that the administration and board make informed decisions and reduce the risk of costly errors.
What distinguishes you from your opponents? My professional understanding of and experience with boards of directors uniquely distinguishes me from my opponents. I also believe that the level of my financial, legal and commercial experience and related communicative, problem solving and analytical demands of my profession distinguish me from my opponents. I have a firsthand understanding of the day-to-day challenges and stresses facing teachers as a result of my wife and parents having been public school educators. In addition, my ability to speak Spanish and my direct experience with the Latino culture are desirable additions to the board given the demographics of the district.
Given the varied issues that the district faces, and the changing nature of many issues from year to year, I place a premium on a board member who possesses common sense and an ability to think independently and clearly. A focus by a board candidate on a particular issue or two can limit the candidates ongoing contribution to the board, as the issue or issues may become obsolete or irrelevant. I view my varied priorities, strong skillset and experience, and focus on students as ensuring that I will productively contribute to the board on a variety of issues during an entire term.
What is your leadership style and how will you work with the superintendent, other members of the board and district staff? I consider myself a consensus builder, but also possess the ability to make a decision when needed in spite of a lack of consensus. I value open, honest dialogue, which focusses on substance and not personal positions and seeks to explore the best available alternatives. Open dialogue requires input from various interested parties, and decisions to be based on merits rather than personal preferences. This process generally produces better decisions and outcomes.
Based on the new superintendents character and commitment, I am confident the voard and superintendent will have a productive working relationship. In working with the superintendent, I will be cooperative, subject to the boards duty to oversee the administrations performance and ensure accountability. It is not the boards role to micromanage the districts business, but to help the superintendent make the best decisions for our students on more significant matters.
In working with other board members, we all need to act respectfully, think independently and be able to work together productively and collegially. There is a need for frank discussions when needed, but with a focus on substance.
In working with staff, I will listen to teachers and other members of the district staff. I will also listen to parents, students and other community members. I may not agree with positions proposed by teachers or district staff members. However, I will be open in my communications and approach in spite of any such disagreement. Board members primarily rely on information provided to them by the superintendent and district staff members. I expect such information to be provided in a timely manner to permit the board to review it prior to discussion, and for the information to provide a fair and full assessment of issues, rather than one-sided proposals. I also expect staff to be available for follow-up discussion as needed and to actively implement board and superintendent decisions.
In terms of working with the teachers union, the relationship of the district and the union should be a partnership, and it should be open and respectful. Successful schools need properly trained, diligent and motivated teachers. I will look to the union to actively assist in developing and maintaining outstanding teachers.
Challenger: John Goodhouse
Family: He and his wife Rebecca have three children Meeka, Austin and Jasmine.
Job and education background: He serves as a financial representative for Country Financial and earned a bachelor's degree in management, communication and leadership from Concordia University.
Neighborhood he lives in: I live a half block from Twality Middle School and Templeton Elementary in Tigard.
Length of time living within the school district: 38 years
School involvement and community service experience: I am a long-time volunteer in the Tigard-Tualatin School District; past Cub Scout leader; previously coached youth sports; volunteer for The Foundation for Tigard Tualatin Schools; current member of both the Tigard and Tualatin chambers of commerce; currently serve on the Tualatin Chamber Board of Directors; past chairman of the Tualatin Chamber Government Affairs Council; currently on the Tigard Chamber Government & Public Policy Committee; currently on the Tualatin Chamber Economic Development Council; recently elected president of the Mens Auxiliary Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3452.
What skills, knowledge and experiences do you bring to the School Board? I have noticed that people in my community are not looking for how much a candidate knows, but how much a candidate cares, listens and considers their input. My No. 1 skill would be listening to the needs and concerns of the district and finding a working solution.
Why are you running? I know firsthand that when I was a student in school that not everyone learned the same way. If a student did not fall into the sweet spot of education, they were left behind. I am for giving students and parents the choice to pick their schools and making sure the education they receive comes with better options within the education system. Not everyone has the desire to learn the same topics, and not everyone has a plan to go onto college. High schools need to expand the range of education by offering trade skills and technical skills to those students who wish to acquire that specialized training. There also needs to be more basic life skills taught as to balancing a household budget, saving for the future and the cost of debt.
How should the school district prioritize spending? The No. 1 priority is to have residents of the Tigard-Tualatin School District to call on our elected officials in Salem to focus on meaningful Public Employees Retirement System reform. Currently, 22 cents of every dollar that goes to educating our children is paid to PERS. These are dollars designated to go to teachers and our classrooms to educate our children. This cost to PERS is only going to increase, which will mean more programs will be cut, and our childrens education will be the one that suffers the most.
What school issue have you tackled at a school building or district level? Have you worked to resolve or address a concern within the Tigard-Tualatin School District? I have not formally tackled or addressed an issue.
Whats one issue the School Board tackled that you wish had turned out differently? What went wrong? The more programs we cut and take away from our students, the more harm we do to our students. You never know which program really grabs a students interest and keeps him/her going in school. We need to find a way to keep all of our electives and extra programs, which are crucial in providing a well-rounded education to our students. Also, we need to bring more programs back such as teaching the trades and skilled labor in schools.
What is an initiative you feel turned out well, and what made it work? I believe the Tigard-Tualatin School Board did a good job of saving money for the future, which has left us in a much better situation than surrounding school districts.
The school district faces a number of looming issues. What should it deal with now, and how? Which should be priorities for later? I would repeat that the No. 1 issue facing our schools in Oregon is PERS reform, and to be able to give the tools needed to our teachers to provide the education to our children that they deserve. We need to call on our elected officials in Salem to pass meaningful PERS reform.
What should voters know about you? I myself went through the Tigard-Tualatin school system, and I have three children currently attending Tigard-Tualatin schools. I love the city I live in and am very passionate and dedicated to making it the best place to live and raise a family. Please visit my website www.johngoodhouse.com, or I welcome anyone to call me at 971-212-7533 (my personal cell) to discuss what may be important to you.
How do you plan to encourage citizen involvement/engagement within the district? I believe that the School Board needs to take advantage of social media and electronic newsletters to keep residents of Tigard and Tualatin current and engaged in what is happening in our schools. I would also like to make available small, intimate gatherings for citizens to voice their opinions and discuss with the School Board questions and concerns they may have. Similar to the fireside chats Tigards new Mayor John Cook has implemented.
What distinguishes you from your opponents? The main thing that distinguishes me is that during my state representative race, I personally knocked on over 12,000 doors and spoke with many more citizens at events over the 14-month period I spent campaigning. I have a very clear understanding of what the citizens think is working and needs to be improved in our schools, and I plan to continue that open communication and implement what I learned from face-to-face conversations with residents of the school district.
What is your leadership style and how will you work with the superintendent, other members of the board and district staff? My leadership style is to gather all the facts, look at all sides of an issue and gather outside input on an issue before making a decision. I would like to strengthen the relationship between the superintendent, the School Board and the residents of Tigard and Tualatin.
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