Routine appointment leads to frosty exchange at school board meeting

The selection of new members for the Forest Grove School District’s budget committee led to unusually personal public remarks Monday from School Board member Kate Grandusky.

At issue was the appointment of Mark Nakajima, manager of the local Ace Hardware store. Nakajima had spent 15 years on the budget committee and was applying to be reappointed after moving to an alternate slot in June 2011.

Board member Fred Marble recommended Nakajima, but Grandusky objected, saying Nakajima had been on the committee in the spring of 2011 when the school district was forced to cut $7.5 million from its budget. She said committee members should have noticed the problem earlier.

“We need someone more attentive,” Grandusky said.

Marble reminded her that “all the [school] board members were on that committee too.”

Granusky, who took office in July 2011, replied: “I was not.”

Marble implied there was nothing Nakajima could have done about the shortfall.“The state cut the funding,” he said.

Grandusky reiterated her strong opposition to Nakajima. “It is nice to have new blood,” she said.

Marble said it was good to mix new blood with old, experienced blood.

“Well, you’ve been on the board forever,” Grandusky said.

“Maybe it’s time for me to leave?” Marble asked, trying to lighten the mood.

“Well, maybe it is,” Grandusky answered.

Nakajima’s appointment was eventually approved 3-1.

The next day, however, Marble was still smarting.

“I felt that was a pretty big slam against me,” he told the News-Times. There had been other tense meetings, especially last year, since Grandusky joined the board, he said, but her comments had never been so personal.

The board also voted 3-1 to appoint Quentin Crain, an Intel engineer with three children in the school system. Board member John Hayes opposed the nomination, saying later that he knows Crain has strong feelings about educational policy and so would be a better fit for the school board, rather than the budget committee, where the focus is on the financial bottom line.

Gary Myers was unanimously approved for the committee. Myers is provost of The Keystone School, an online middle and high school that serves 26,000 students and has revenues of more than $14 million.

A total of six people applied for the three open positions, which in itself was a triumph, said Mike Schofield, the district’s director of business and support services. “Normally it’s very difficult to get even enough people to apply.”

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