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Keith Steele brings experience, continuity to school board

The West Linn-Wilsonville School District is on a good road. Its budget is in check, the programs are strong, the graduation rate is high and the schools rank among the best in the nation.

Not only do we have great teachers and awesome kids to thank for that, but strong leadership at both the superintendent and the school board level also play a vital part of the success of the district.

With three school board seats up for election this year, we believe the board needs as much continuity as possible to stay the course.

The terms of Chairman Keith Steele and board members Dale Hoogestraat and Cheri Zimmerman are all ending June 30. Both Hoogestraat and Zimmerman have opted not to seek re-election. Candidates Rob Fernandez and Regan Molatore have filed unopposed for those positions.

Former Tualatin City Councilor Ron Parton filed to challenge Steele for Position 5.

Though Parton brings good qualities and a sincere interest in the school district, we feel Steele is the right choice for keeping the district at its best.

Steele’s goals of closing achievement gaps, pushing for more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and securing bond funds to address future capacity issues in Wilsonville show his passion for continued success for all students.

However, the status quo is not enough for Steele. He wants to continue to do more with less money and offer more opportunities for all students, especially in the area of technology.

In the last four years there has been a complete turnover in the school board. Next to Steele’s four years of experience, the next longest standing member has just two years of service. Steele’s knowledge of the district as a whole and the process of getting things done will allow the board to keep moving forward as the two new members get up to speed.

Steele also brings with him years of service, having served on the district budget committee and co-chairing the campaign to pass the 2008 capital bond and levy renewal.

Though we do not question Parton’s interest in serving the school district, his knowledge of and involvement with the school district are not on par with Steele’s. Although he does offer public service experience, having served on the Tualatin City Council, we question his ability to quickly get up to speed on key district issues.

We also think that Molatore and Fernandez will bring a fresh outlook and two new voices to the school board.

Molatore has been involved with the West Linn-Wilsonville Education Foundation, the world language program, principal selection and involved in her children’s schools. Her passion is evident and her enthusiasm should serve the district well.

Fernandez was appointed to the school board in 2010 to fill a vacant seat for one year. Though he lost his election bid to Betty Reynolds, we think his past experience, business savvy and interest in serving the district will be a good addition to the board.



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