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ELECTION 2013: Political newcomer challenges Albertson for board post

Bullock eyes Position 1 seat on Tigard-Tualatin School Board

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 and style. We hope this information helps you cast your vote in the May 21 election.

Position 1

Incumbent: Barry Albertson

Age: 66 Albertson

Family: He is married to Robin Leslie. They have three children, Matthew, who attends Oregon State University; Kevin, at Eastern Oregon University; and Rebecca, who studies at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa.

Job and education background: He earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.; master's degree in biology/endocrinology from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.; and doctorate in biology, biochemistry and endocrinology from Boston University/Boston City Hospital. He served in the Army from 1969 to 1972. He is a founding partner of Fanno Creek Clinic in Portland, where he serves as director of the Division of Clinical Research, director of the Clinical Laboratory and co-directs the Continuing Medical Education Training Program for 14 physician colleagues.

Neighborhood he lives in: Bull Mountain

Length of time living within the school district: 23 years

School involvement and community service experience: He served as a member of the Tualatin Valley Band, Board of Directors; Oregon Institute of Technology/Science Technology Education and Math Advisory Board and Teaching Faculty, Oregon Institute of Technology; Tigard Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force; Fangorn Foundation Board of Directors; and ad hoc member of City of Tigard Parks & Recreation Committee. In schools, he served as Parent/Student Organization president at Deer Creek Elementary; started a PSO newsletter with his wife; Site Council member at Mary Woodward Elementary School; Site Council member at Twality Middle School; and School Board member from 2001 to present.

What skills, knowledge and experiences do you bring to the School Board? I’m a parent with three children completing their entire public education in TTSD schools, so I have first-hand knowledge of K-12 school issues, from a parent and student perspective. I’ve taught my entire undergraduate, graduate and professional career, and I hold an Oregon Teaching License, received in 2011, credentialed to teach high school biology. I have both masters level and doctoral level education and experiences, in both the basic and medical sciences, providing a myriad of professional skills and talents enabling me to interact with people (and kids) very successfully, in areas including with budgets, curriculum and contract negotiations. I am active in both Tigard and Tualatin city policy and issues. Plus, 12 years as a School Board member has given me some pretty firm ground to stand on, regarding experience.

Why are you running? I feel the agreement I have — that began in 2001 — with our parents, citizens and students is not yet fully met. I am confident that our economy will improve over the next four years, and I’d like to be in a position to assure we add back important and needed elements of our K-12 programs, starting with classroom teaching faculty, then other individuals and items to give our students the complete menu of classes and options while they are in school, so they remain in school and graduate. We should again consider breathing some life into our now empty "rainy day/reserve" funds — but slowly at first, after we re-build the basics. I know we can do better in terms of student achievement, student engagement in school and student outcomes. We’ve come a long way in that regard since I was elected, but we can do better. I’d like to be part of that initiative, and see these come to fruition.

How should the school district prioritize spending? First and foremost we must fund instruction — defined in lots of ways, but primarily classroom teachers. Every committee I’ve ever been associated with or part of in our district has concluded that smaller class sizes should be our No. 1 priority for academic success for all children. But for 12 years, we’ve gone backward in that regard, with next year’s class sizes to grow even more, perhaps into the 30s for elementary grades, mid-30s for middle school and 40s for high school classes. Education is a “people” business — 85 percent of our school budget goes toward salary and benefits for our employee groups. And these people work hard and long hours to make our district great.

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? Spending taxpayers bond money wisely and prudently. The 2002 bond enabled us to build several new schools. While the process wasn’t perfect, we did complete the job for our taxpayers, and we now have several brand-new beautiful schools to show for it. In particular, when we tore down old Charles F. Tigard Elementary, the cafeteria building was also slated to go. I worked and lobbied very hard to keep that building intact. With Susan Stark Haydon’s suggestion of renting it to Broadway Rose, everyone was a winner. This structure now gives TTSD an exceptional scenario, providing a much needed and professional performing arts venue for Broadway Rose while still retaining much use of the building for school district functions and meetings. With Harvey Platt and Platt Electric’s very generous support of and to Broadway Rose, we now have a state-of-the-art performing arts theater — something Tigard and our entire community has needed for decades. Moreover, Broadway Rose provides, along with district staff, performing arts support, including classes for our district children in this venue throughout the calendar year, so they can see and learn, first hand, from real Broadway professionals about the joy of the performing arts.

Working hard to establish the Tigard Tualatin Aquatic District was also a very wise and “win-win” end-game for everyone, especially our communities. Our district has, in the past, mentioned the huge cost of running two swimming pools for our schools and community. And with budgets decreasing, this option has been on the table several times during my time on the board. But, as a result of our very vocal community and wise board members, we have abandoned that option. The establishment of our aquatic district takes this $750,000 a year financial cost form our TTSD books, and through taxpayer generosity, establishes our pools will be ready and available for kids and adults for many years to come.

What’s one issue the School Board tackled that you wish had turned out differently? What went wrong? The CPM math adoption, several years ago, in terms of its inception, how it was proposed and brought to teachers and to the board, how it was launched into the classrooms, and how the parents of our middle and high school students came "un-glued” over it, just 2 months after its beginning. When the board finally decided, after lengthy debate and discussion, that our math (primarily, middle and high schools) would shift gears and use a Traditional/CPM math blend, and the votes were cast, there seemed to be some variation of the implementation of that board directive. This was a very heated issue, and distinct lines were drawn. Administrative directives in line with the board’s final decision didn’t seem to match at the end of the day, as per parents input to board members.

Another was the non-funded state mandate of CIM and CAM, and how TTSD jumped on that band-wagon immediately (perhaps too soon). But after years of work, effort, re-engineering and angst, we and the state decided that perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea after all, and it is now abandoned.

What is an initiative you feel turned out well, and what made it work? Our “On-Line Academy” is a huge success, catering to a very academically diverse group of our students who use this district resource to gain access to and do well in courses, which might not be the case in our regular school setting. What made it work was the vision of our past superintendent, Rob Saxton, many other staff members and a wise board, who knew the quote from “Field of Dreams,” "If you build it, they will come,” was the real deal.

The school district faces a number of looming issues. What should it deal with now, and how? Which should be priorities for later? Lower class sizes, then offer a full and complete menu of core classes and electives for our students. This is priority one for me. However, this takes sufficient revenue for people and salaries that we currently do not have in adequate amounts. That being the case, we must push our legislators to fund public education according to the commission they established, thus providing the full “Quality Education Model” that we all know is best for kids and their futures. There have been several revenue plans volleyed back and forth in our Legislature, some for many years, but Oregonians must ultimately decide if our children and their public education is paramount and the No. 1 priority. If we do this right, we’ll be spending so much less revenue on social services and public safety as a result in the future. But we must start now to change the way our state feels about education. For example, more (perhaps all) of our Oregon Lottery dollars should be directed to K-12 and community college education funding. Some states do just that. This additional funding would enable us to also provide skillsets, leading to high-wage trade careers for many of our students who, for any number of reasons, prefer and head in that direction, and want to begin while they are in high school.

What should voters know about you? I’m available, approachable, easy to identify in a crowd, support our schools and our students every chance I get, day and night. I get into the schools to talk to teachers, administrators, classified staff and especially the kids, as often as I can — especially in their classrooms. I try to get opinions from every quadrant. I think critically, ask cogent and relevant questions of our administrators and staff. I do my homework, talking with superintendents, administrators and teachers from other neighboring school districts, getting their opinion of things, especially if their "course" might not be the same as ours (or mine). Since your tax dollars are being spent for all this, I’m not afraid nor ever reluctant to ask, "Show or prove to me that what you say or want to do, especially in the areas of curriculum, policy and budgets, will work or makes sense?" I’m tireless and a believer in public education.

How do you plan to encourage citizen involvement/engagement within the district? Do what I do now, and have been for the past 12 years — get to our schools and school events as much as I can to engage our citizens, parents and students. I know these parents, citizens and students are busy and have way too many things on their plates. I ran for this position 12 years ago. No one really twisted my arm — it was my choice, so it is my job to seek out our citizens and parents, and begin the discussion with them, wherever they are. I encourage parents and students to call me (and many do), rather than emailing me, any time to discuss any topic.

What distinguishes you from your opponent? Older, taller, grayer, way more mileage on my odometer (translated as experience). I learned the K-12 TTSD ropes by being a PSO president, then Site Council member at Mary Woodward Elementary and then Twality Middle School, before the teachers actually, strongly and persistently encouraged me to run for the School Board. I’ve run unopposed the past two, four-year terms. If successful, this will be my final School Board term.

What is your leadership style and how will you work with the superintendent, other members of the board and district staff? I never expect or ask anyone to do something that I either haven’t done myself or wouldn’t do. I try, in my professional life to hire and retain the very best people, then work with them — often challenging them, but considering our relationship as a partnership with differences of opinion perhaps, but having long and detailed discussions and finding common ground. I am open, available and detail-oriented (by the nature of my profession). I ask questions that will allow me insight into thought process and outcomes, and how our district leaders will successfully engage with both parents and students. You must genuinely like kids and education and life-long learning to be involved in any aspect of or with public education.

My relationship with three superintendents (from well before I was elected as one of your board members) and two interim superintendents has been very open and frank, wanting as much information in a bilateral way so I can help with the important decision making forks in the road. Regarding other board members, open and frequent communication and long discussions are absolutely essential. Board members will not agree all the time, but presenting your case, with cogent arguments and having done your homework is part of that collegial relationship that, again, is essential for a functioning School Board, and successful schools and students.

Challenger: Moses Bullock

Age: 36Bullock

Family: He and his wife Emily have been married for 12 years. They have three sons Colton, a sixth-grader; Ryan, a second-grader; and Landon, in preschool.

Job and education background: He serves as the general sales manager, finance director and online commerce director for Royal Moore Toyota/ Royal Moore Auto Center. He attended Linn Benton Community College.

Neighborhood he lives in: Bull Mountain

Length of time living within the school district: Seven years

School involvement and community service experience: Community involvement consists of being a past board president for the Bella Vista Homeowners Association. I am also very involved with my church, where I commonly assist families move in, or out of our ward boundaries. I watch over any family that I am designated to serve. I have been a Cub Scout chairman, where I would oversee the organization and implementation of Cub Scout activities as well as annual chartering and event planning. I have coached soccer, donate food and toys at all drives Royal Moore is involved in and donate blood to the American Red Cross. No past school involvement.

What skills, knowledge and experiences do you bring to the School Board? I bring the skills and knowledge of a father of three sons, first and foremost. Business acumen, common sense and practical application will guide me in all decisions brought before the board. As a previous orphan of the state of Oregon, I have learned many skills necessary in today’s environment. I know you can create success. I know the importance of education, and its impact on an individual's success.

Why are you running? I am concerned about the direction the district has been moving in recent years. I am firmly opposed to surrendering local decisions, and control of curriculum, standards and assessment, to a centralized or national organization. I am also interested in learning more about our budgetary issues our district faces. Safety is also a concern I have.

How should the school district prioritize spending? It is very difficult to say how a district should prioritize from a speculative point of view. It is way too easy to sit back and be critical of where resources are allocated without being involved firsthand in those decisions. My focus will be on efficiency, what is causing our budget to be out of balance. Once that information is determined, I would have a better idea of priorities.

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? N/A

What’s one issue the School Board tackled that you wish had turned out differently? What went wrong? The acceptance of Common Core. I wish our board members would have considered the long-term implications of this centralized school model.

What is an initiative you feel turned out well, and what made it work? I think it is a positive thing, when the district can introduce a bond to the community and get the support necessary to pass it, based on its merit and value to the community.

The school district faces a number of looming issues. What should it deal with now, and how? Which should be priorities for later? My first priority would be to raise awareness about, “the danger in maintaining local accountability while surrendering local control.” If we sit back and let this happen, all of our looming issues will be magnified.

What should voters know about you? I have lived in Oregon all of my life. I was born into a broken home, and have witnessed firsthand what we are capable of if we have the will to succeed. I have been married to my wife for 12 years and have three healthy, happy sons. My life has tested me to the very edge, and I have always been able to navigate through the most turbulent times. I have the courage to step forward, and that’s the reason I entered this race. We need people who are willing to lead, and I am.

How do you plan to encourage citizen involvement/engagement within the district? I will evaluate all resources at the district's disposal to accomplish this vital component for the district's success.

What distinguishes you from your opponent? I have kids currently in the district. I would not have allowed Common Core to be implemented into our district with so many unanswered questions.

What is your leadership style and how will you work with the superintendent, other members of the board and district staff? I lead by example. Leadership is a title that is given, not taken. I know the most effective way to communicate with anyone, whether it is Ernie Brown, or the other board members, is through open dialogue that is based on courtesy and respect. We may not always agree, but we must remember that we are the stewards of our community, city, state, nation and world's future, and that is the education of our children.

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