Corbett School Board Candidate Community Forum at the Grange – NEMCCA April 7, 2015
There were slightly over 100 people in attendance. Dave Mysinger president of NEMCCA (North-East Multnomah County Community Association) introduces all candidates and positions. The below was transcribed by Karina Lande – who was in attendance and audio recorded the meeting. (Thank you Karina!)
Marguerite Perry and Kathryn Green
Lacey Auble and Stephen Knight
Katey Kinnear and Victoria Purvine
Moderator is Multnomah County Chief Deputy Jason Gates
Jason Gates: The format is that there may be questions for a specific candidate or for all candidates, we will hand you the microphone and start on one end of the tables and next time start at the other. We have a timer and Matt and Tara are our timers. There will be 3 minutes to answer the questions and the timers will give you an indication when you have 30 seconds left and then when the red paddle goes up, you’ll have to cut off at that point. Questions need to be written down and handed in, there will be no (verbal) questions from the audience.
To start, each candidate is given 3 minutes to introduce themselves and tell why they are running for the board.
Marguerite Perry – It won’t take 3 minutes, This is a real honor to be here and I’m so glad to see so many people showing up. That’s one thing about this place is that people are involved. So, my name’s Margarite Perry and my husband George is right there, and his dad and his mom there (points into audience), his family has been here since the 20’s, I’ve only been here for about 25 years. But his grand-dad was the manager for the Juilius Myers estate, Menucha, and his grandmother was one of the very first Corbett teachers. She actually taught her very first year in Corbett in that room up there because the school burned down the year she was hired before she could get into it. So they taught their first year here at the grange.
For me moving to Corbett was kind of like winning the lottery and getting to raise our four kids here was, every day I was grateful for it. I actually thought about running for the school board for a long time but I’ve been busy like everybody. I do love this community and the schools and I’m willing to take a turn now working for them.
Right now I also have a job. I work for the Friends of Vista House which by the way was a Corbett community project that started over 30 years ago through NEMCCA so that’s how they got their start. So thank you NEMCCA. Right now I am managing the store up at Vista House.
My idea for what a good board member would be is to ask this about every decision that’s made and that is “how does this effecr the students and how does this effect the community?” I think those are the two key things to always take off of when we’re trying to decide what to do. I am willing to take the time to get the training and find facts and actual numbers and do homework that is necessary to be able to make sensible decisions that come up. I’m also willing to be a reliable resource to you the community when there are issues or questions that can be answered by fact finding. I really believe it is the responsibility of everyone, not just the board, to base their decisions on, and opinions on facts. Not relying on what we might hear. So I really hope to be able to find out where to find answers if nothing else. (Timer cuts her off, she’s hit her 3 minutes).
Kathryn Green- I’m Kathryn Green, I’ve been here since 2000, my family has had a place up here since 1964. I have had 2 children attend Corbett, one is out and one is a sophomore. I’ve been involved, going to the meetings at the school board. I’m interested and I have a lot of energy. I love discussions, and I know that’s one of the main things I can bring to the school board is talking about issues, there at the meetings. Which I think would be great. I think this community has a lot of smart, and a lot of caring people. I think we can move forward and continue on a great school district.
Lacey Auble- My name’s Lacey Auble and ya know, I have a vested interest in Corbett because I’ve got kids that go to Corbett. My husband graduated from Corbett and we don’t intend to go anywhere, this is where we’ve planted our roots and this is where we intend to stay. I currently have 2 kids in Corbett, my youngest daughter will start kindergarten in the fall and I have one other that will come through. I’ve got nieces and nephews who will likely go through.
The thing that struck me about the Corbett community when we first moved here is that everyone was around the schools, it’s just we all kind of gravitated around the school. I think if we can all work together to come to some common ground I think it would just sky rocket.
I look to all of the community members. There’s great ideas everywhere, I’ve spoken with a lot of people, we came back in I think around 2007, ya know when we got out of the military, and I’ve had a chance to speak with a lot of people and everyone has such great ideas. I’d like to see them all come to the table and see what we can work together. It’s fun just to get to know everyone and see what they’ve got.
Stephen Knight – Hi, my name is Stephen Knight, I appreciate everyone coming out today. I see a lot of people that I know and a lot of people that I’d like to know. I came to the community about 5 years ago so I’ve got a little bit of a different perspective then some people that are currently on the board, and some of the people that are seeking election right now. I don’t think that, that is necessarily a bad thing. There are a lot of people in the community that didn’t go to school here and a lot of people in the community that have moved in more recently, and I think that they need representation as well.
I come from a family of educators. My mother taught for 30 years, my father was a university professor, my grandfather was a superintendent of schools. So education has always been a high priority to me and my family.
When we came to this community about five years ago, it seemed there was a big fracture in the community and the one institution that should be bringing everybody together seemed to be a very divisive factor. I was told when I moved in, who were the “good people” and who were the “bad people”, it was as simple as that. I don’t think that, that is right.
I’m not afraid to talk to anyone, I don’t question anybody’s motives. I think that every candidate, and everybody in this room wants what they think is best for the district. If you don’t question peoples motives you can talk, and you don’t have to be insecure in your own position.
Over the last 5 years I was curious about why some of these issues were occurring and a couple years ago I started to regularly attend board meetings. It seemed like we had a very dysfunctional board. It was a partisan board that had trouble getting anything done. They adjugated sort of their responsibility for oversight. I don’t think that, that’s right.
I do think that we need to be asking questions. I think that we need to ask questions about even policies that you agree with because your representing people that agree with you, and people that don’t agree with you. I think it’s important to represent everybody, particularly people that don’t agree with you. You owe it to them to ask the questions that they’d want to ask, as a representative.
Basically I’ve been in the “good people” camp and I’ve been in the “bad people” camp, so I’m not afraid to talk to anybody and get everybody’s input, and everybody’s ideas. I do think that our district can be run without reacting to crisis all the time, without forcing rushed decisions all the time. I do think that we can do so with more transparency, I do think we can do so with better communication with the district, and that’s really my focus.
We don’t need somebody that is automatically going to be voting the way the existing board is voting, you already got that. You need somebody who is going to be questioning and examining things, and communicating with the public this time. Thank you.
Victoria Purvine – I am Victoria Purvine and I am one of those people currently on the board that he is talking about, and I have to agree with him, and we have talked about the fact that we are dysfunctional in a lot of things that we’re doing. I think there are some things we could be doing differently. We could also be doing some team building and working together. Getting to know each other outside of the board so that when you are reacting to something on the board it’s not this is the only time you have seen this person, or the only time you have talked to this person. There are some things we could be doing better.
I have been on the board for one term, I started 4 years ago and I had children in the school at that time. I no longer have children in the school as one graduated in 2010 and then one left the district in 2013 to go down to Gresham/Barlow and went through their dual high school, college credit program, and graduated in 2014. I would also like to see that program come to Corbett, it was a wonderful program and it made a huge difference in his abilities when he headed off to OSU. It gave a full year of college under his belt, a whole year of college for us that we didn’t have to pay because it was quality credits that transferred with him. Since it’s through a community college his grades actually transferred with his credits, which makes a big difference when you are trying to get your college done.
This last four years, I did find out that we were not an accredited high school while I was on the board, and this was a problem for me. I went to the board with it and I worked with northwest accreditation to come out and talk to the community and the process got started, and this school is now accredited. I think that is very important when our goal is to remove barriers for the kids. I think that was the number one thing that we could do to go forward. I am looking forward to another four years to continue. Thank You.
Katey Kinnear – I am born and raised Corbett resident I’ve been out here, well, (points out the window) that was my great grandpas house, and my grandpa lived over there across the street and so there’s all of that. My kids are 6 generation Rickerts and 5 generation Angelos which also live across the street. I’m the mother of 3 boys, I have one starting preschool this fall. I have a 5th grader and a 2nd grader. So like Lacey, I am here for the long haul.
I’ve done a lot of volunteering at the school. Everyone in the school knows my two year old so needless to say, they all know me in there. I’ve done tremendous amounts of volunteering. I’ve been on the PTA Vice President, I chaperone pretty much every field trip except when I was pregnant.
I have a lot that I want from this school, and have it to prosper because I have more children in it. I graduated Corbett in 98, a lot has changed for the better but I want to see it change more.
I think that there’s things the school board can build on, like communicating with the community and building that bridge that used to be there back when I was in school and I don’t see it there much anymore, and I would like to see that, involve the community more.
Questions are now read by Jason Gates
(If I don’t specify, they are to all candidates and will follow the question with all individual answers.)
Question #1 – Recent bond elections have demonstrated that a majority of Corbett tax payers have lost confidence in the school boards’ ability to address critical issues, and to hold both themselves and the administration accountable for their actions. If elected, what specific actions will you take to regain the trust and confidence of the Corbett taxpayers?
Marguerite Perry – So what specific actions would I carry out to help regain the trust and confidence of the community in the ability of the school board to carry out its job? Well I’m a big believer in standard operating procedures and an ability to find answers based on what are the policies, what are the laws, and I think that you always start from that point if I was trying to figure out, especially a controversial issue. I would also really make an effort to do something to get input from the community in a real productive way that would give me the feeling that I really knew what people thought. So that would be, those two things would be, the actions that I would focus on.
Kathryn Green – What would I do to try to work to get a bond passed and how would I work with the taxpayers to move toward that? I had been on the facilities committee for the first bond and I did not find that helpful in the least. I could not get answers to questions that I had. However I think that the process was a good idea, I think it’s great to have a meeting where tax payers and community members can come in and say “ok what do we need and how are we going to get there?” I think that type of involvement was a great idea but I don’t particularly think it was pulled off very well.
One of my questions was, can we first start with what is it we have here in Corbett, where are the buildings, where’s the land, how much space do we have? Also, what do we need and why do we need it? I couldn’t get those answers. So first of all I would really push to figure out exactly what it is we have, where it is, how many kids are in it, and where are we headed?
Honestly, to get the tax payers interested we need to work on a plan. A plan that everybody can see, that everybody can follow, and obviously everybody may not agree on it, but we at least need something tangible. So that we can talk about things and have discussions about what’s really, really needed, and what we can afford to do.
Lacey Auble – I think Kathryn’s right, I think that, ya know, we need to have discussions. We need to figure out exactly what we need. Even before that we need a plan to take care of what we have, there’s no sense in building something else if we don’t have a workable plan to take care of what we already have right? So I think we need to first figure that out. Then we need to really look at exactly what we do need, and I think we do need input on that, and I think we are not going to make everybody happy, I don’t think that’s possible. But, I think we can make everybody feel heard and I think if everyone brings their ideas to the table, we make everybody heard, and there is an informed decision on exactly what we need, no more no less, and we have a plan to take care of it in the future, become good stewards of what we have. I think that’s a step in the right direction.
Stephen Knight – I do think that as the question presupposes, there has been a loss of trust in the board and administration. I do feel like these last bond elections have been more a vote of no confidence in the board and administration than they’ve been about the bond. I think that some characterize the failure of the bonds as the fault of the community, I don’t believe that’s true. I think the community has invested in the schools and will continue to support the school district, but, I think they need to be asked what they want. They need input rather than convincing. I think that they need to have a restoration of confidence.
I don’t think we need to necessarily start with confidence in a bond, we need to start with confidence in the entire school board and the administration first. That means transparency in all of our dealings, that means following proper procedures, that means open communication. Why are we not doing things that inspire confidence to begin with in the district? Why are we not broadcasting and taping school board meetings? Why are we not distributing information, even within the board itself? I do think that a restoration of confidence in the board will result in passing the needed bond.
I do think we need a long term facilities plan first. I think that there are a lot of resources we can leverage, from the county, from other districts that have facilities plans. We’ve had several people in the community already speak up at board meetings that have experience with facilities planning, we should take advantage of that. We don’t have all the answers necessarily sitting up here, but within this room we do. We have a lot of experts in a lot of different fields sitting in this room and within this community, and we should leverage that.
PGE is up replacing telephone poles right now on Larch Mountain, they’re replacing those poles before the old ones fall down. They had a plan. That’s something we need to look at for all of our facilities. The middle school didn’t just start falling apart 2 years ago. Why was it allowed to get to the state that it’s in? I think that there are a lot of things we need to do to restore trust in the entire board and administration, and I think that’s going to make a difference.
Victoria Purvine – I have to say that as a board member, when I was trying to get my questions answered, and when I wanted to give input, when I wanted to have discussion, we had what I refer to as “The 19 pages of, Can we all agree”. Which was already lined up, pre-set out, can we all agree on this answer, and if the answer was no then you started to feel like “you’re causing a problem here”. You can’t have discussions if you’re all just going through with “if you guys can agree on this, great…now we’re going to go to the next one, and now you’re going to agree on this”. Well, where’s the discussion on what I may not support? We are told “you’re building consensus” but that is not building consensus. Consensus is, what can you all bring to the table? What do you think you can support? What do you think is important? What do you think we can sell to the community?
What we have been doing is what I have been told is called the D.A.D. Approach, which is; you Decide what your going to do, you Advise the community what your going to do, and then you Defend your positions. That is not, going to the community, and asking them, what can you get behind? Where can you go with this project?
There was a group that I was supporting that wanted to come out, (for the bond process) they were The DLR Group. They wanted to do 18-24 months of research, surveys, large community groups of questions and answers to get community consensus, and then put it together and present it back to the community. Building it up over time. The idea was to instead rush it through in a much shorter time frame, with the idea we had to get this done. I think that has backfired on us. I think it would have been much better for us to go slower and involve the community.
I think we all do agree something needs to be done with the building, either maintenance, repair, remodel, replace, but we need to talk to the community. I did ask at one board meeting where we had some teachers giving their input on what needed to be done and how much square footage they wanted and I said have you asked the community? What if the community doesn’t want to pay for 150 sq ft per student, what if their idea is 75-95 sq ft per student? Is there something in place where your talking to the community before you come up with another plan? That to me is what we really need to be doing. Going to the people, going out and talking to them so that we understand what’s the best thing that they can do and what can they get behind? And then I think we can go forward.
Katey Kinnear – I would like to see the pros and cons as to why we can’t use the buildings we have now. How we could make it better and I know it’s an old, old building but why can’t we do the same as we did for the springdale school? I need to look into more information on it to see, ya know, how we could do that to the old, well it was my high school but the old middle school now, and how we can fix the high school that the kids use now to accommodate all the kids. I’m not against a new building but I would like to start out with the old building and see what we can do and work up from there.
I think having community input on it is huge, huge, for people who did graduate Corbett it’s part of their heritage. I’ve had grandparents and great grandparents that have gone there. I would hate to see the building torn down but if it’s not safe and can’t be remodeled or fixed up that would be the next step but I think having a plan, like they’ve all said, is something that needs to be in place and having the community put their own two cents in and then we can go from there. Then we are not back tracking like we have, and bonds failing.
Question #2 – A. Is the student population size at Corbett school district a concern for you? Why or why not?
B. Do you feel the current number of, and compensation paid, for the superintendent and principals, are in line with industry standards for a district our size?
Katey Kinnear – A. The population now well it was way smaller when I attended Corbett but for what we have now I think I would not go anymore students then we have now. I believe having more students causes more problems and what not and the community not wanting to go bigger, and, but we can’t go back where we used to be because of the funds. I mean, we’re on the edge of Multnomah county and we’d lose teachers if we were smaller, budgets, and we’re kinda in that crevice to where we don’t get what the bigger schools get and we don’t get what the smaller schools in eastern Oregon get. I feel that Corbett is in a comfortable spot with the student numbers right now.
(Part 2 of question is re-read regarding the salaries and numbers of administration.)
B. I think so because we are at the bottom of the charts we saw, we’re on the bottom, all of the other schools within our area or our size, are getting way more.
Victoria Purvine – A. Currently we have around 1300 students up here and approximately half of those do come from out of the area, but they are all considered “resident” students because they all come in through open enrollment. I would like to see a balance between how many kids live here locally and how many kids we are bringing in, so we can have a discussion for where is the right point between what the community is comfortable with and, what we do need to give programs that will benefit the kids.
I think there’s also ways we can look at reducing numbers by having options made through partnerships with either Mt Hood Community College who has a good program we could be offering the kids for college readiness. The Job Corp has offered to partnership with us which I think would be fantastic for kids who want to do vocational and other things that we can’t offer at our school. There’s ways to have fewer students on campus and still have the same number of dollars coming in, you’d just have to spend them differently. You’d have to pay some tuition to Mt Hood for those kids who wouldn’t be on campus but you’d still have money left over. So you get $6,900 per student and say you pay $3,900 to tuition but you still have $3,000 left over to put towards your programming. There’s some things we could be talking about that can help balance things out. I would really like to see those conversations happen.
B. The compensations for the principals and the number of principals, we currently have 4 principal positions for the 1300 students. I don’t know the industry standards but we are currently paying around $100,000.00 per position for those, so it is a big chunk of our dollar amounts. I think that should be another conversation we need to have, which is, see if we need to make cuts, or shift some positions around?
Stephen Knight – A. Obviously the population is something that everybody wants to talk about and I think that there is a break even point. We do need to be having kids coming in for the dollars but I think it’s an artificial argument when some are arguing against the notion of having an entirely “physically residents” only student population. I haven’t heard people suggesting that, but that’s the the argument that’s taking place. I think they have tried to present numbers illustrating where that breaking point is but once again I don’t think people necessarily trust the numbers. I don’t think people trust the source of the numbers, do we need to get somebody to come in and independently validate those numbers? Perhaps. Should we need to do that? I don’t think we should but I think part of the issue with population is also how we got to the population that we are. The charter was a quick thing in a crisis, until it wasn’t, and then it went away. Laws change but we still seem to be reacting constantly instead of planning on our own. B. As far as the compensation question, I don’t know what our local area averages are but our principals now, and our superintendent, are compensated above the state average, I do know that.
As far as how many we have, it is something we could research as compared to industry standards. I don’t think that needs to be a third rail we can’t talk about. We added an administrator for the STEM school, we didn’t add students. If the STEM school goes away does that administrator go away? Does he go back to a classroom teacher? I haven’t heard any discussion about that and I think that’s something that can be talked about.
Lacey Auble – A. Ya know in thinking of the population of our students I don’t want to see us get any bigger. I want to see us just big enough that we don’t have to run from crisis to crisis and I will say that currently when I walk into the school most teachers can tell you which kid belongs to which brother and sister and I think that we’re small enough that we still have that hometown feeling in there. I come from a very large high school though so I realize that my ideas of small may not be what you guys ideas of small is. So that’s a discussion I would love to have with anyone that wants to talk about it. I think ultimately we need to be big enough population wise that we do not need to run from crisis to crisis.
B. As far as the compensation question I was thinking about this the other day as I was driving home from work, ya know, Corbett is unique in that we border a large metropolitan area but probably could drive the wages that people would make who live on the outskirts or work on the outskirts of the town, and if we are not willing to pay for them to stay, the industry standard for our area, then what’s stopping them from leaving? Now whether or not we want them to stay that’s a whole other topic right? But if we want a quality employee we need to look at where we are and how we keep them here.
Kathryn Green – A. So student population and school size, we are no longer designated a small school, that’s growth. That’s what happened. Is it because all the kids come from Corbett or live here in Corbett? Obviously it’s not, we’ve got them coming from out of our town. I think there were reasons for that and I have been to the meetings and I have heard the discussions about that and I don’t particularly think having some students come in from outside our small community is a bad idea. I also would not like to see it get much bigger than it is right now. A lot of that is based on our facilities, what we have and what we can afford to pack full of kids.
B. Principals and compensation, four principals for the schools, I think maybe we are top heavy by a very small margin. I don’t think that we needed to hire a new principal before we had even started this new STEM High School, but that’s what happened. As far as what they make, I would have to look into that, I don’t know what the average is around this area but I certainly think that we should be willing to pay for quality employees and quality principals. As far as the superintendent, in that particular area, yes I feel that we are paying too much for our superintendent.
Marguerite Perry – So the two part question, student population and is that a concern for me and why? From what I understand the only reason we have grown to the level that we’ve grown is because it’s a matter of dollars, it’s a matter of money. There are fixed costs with upgrading the school and we just plain don’t have enough resident students to pay the bills, and for me ever since I’ve moved here I’ve felt this way, a top priority is to keep Corbett local and independent and if it means we have to bring in lots of students or we need to come up with other creative ideas, that’s what I am going to be behind, all the way. I don’t want to see it grow any bigger than it has to, but I don’t think anybody does, I’m sure nobody does, but I also want to make sure that we are big enough that we can offer significant programs and support the students that we have so that they end up well. We’re all looking at that bottom, I think everybody wants our kids to have a good education so we have to look at all the options for that, but I think that’s why we have the student population that we have.
B. So just a couple things, from what I understand about the four principal question, all of those principals are also teachers, they’re not full time principals so that does affect partly this whole question of, you know, how they’re being compensated. As far as trusting numbers I do agree, that’s my big thing, I want to find out these numbers for myself so if there’s numbers like how many students we have, there are ways to independently verify numbers and so that will be a big interest to me to get to the bottom of actual facts and numbers.
I have been on the budget committee, I was on the budget committee last year and really I did not see waste and I did not see extra staffing. I did not see extra people being paid for things, that if anything I see that we are understaffed. You can look at all the secretaries and all the janitorial and maintenance guys and they’re running around like crazy. Just barely, barely operating, so at least in those areas I know that for the, I guess, the terms I have seen are for support dollars per kid that are spent on non teaching and that’s the administration and all the other support people for the school, and Corbett is at the bottom for that.
Next question for Marguerite Perry only: You’ve been on the budget committee, please explain for how long and how that experience will help you as a board member.
Marguerite Perry – I joined the budget committee last year to fill a vacant position. I have single handedly worked with the budget for the Vista House for the last three years and so that’s where I had my experience. The budget for government operation is so complicated. It’s much more complicated then your every day budget. There’s lots of things that I have learned and things I still have to learn, but it’s very interesting and I really enjoy it and I hope to continue it.
Next question for Stephen Knight only: Do you support term limits for school board members and do you support proper school board meetings, which we currently do not have compared to other school districts. If you have attended the meetings and observed, please comment. Also do you have children in school?
Stephen Knight – Yes I do support the board having policies and following them, that seems pretty self evident. I have been going to board meetings for quite some time and I do see a lot of things that don’t appear to be done properly. I do have 3 boys attending the schools. There have already been some anonymous phone calls going around saying I’m out to destroy the schools. Seems kind of an odd choice being that I do have 3 boys in the school, so I really don’t think that, that has any merit as I am not trying to destroy the schools.
Next question for Katey Kinnear only: I believe you are the only person who is running who is an actual graduate of Corbett high school, please explain how this unique experience will help you as a board member.
Katey Kinnear – I think it helps me as a board member because I’m in the schools volunteering and seeing how it’s changed since I’ve been in school. Wanting to keep that small town feeling and small town community. I’ve seen the community has changed from when we were in school, they, there, was a lot of support from the community and now I don’t see it as much. Being on the school board I want to bring that community back.
All candidates – Question #3
How many school board meetings have you attended in the last 2 years?
Marguerite Perry – I think I get to about 2/3 of them, maybe 1/2 of them, something like that.
Kathryn Green – I believe I have attended approximately 20 out of the 24.
Lacey Auble – Probably around 1/3 to 1/2, my husband tends to work Wednesday nights. I had a baby about 2 years ago so that hindered going to the meetings. But the kids get older and can be left with sitters.
Stephen Knight – In the last 2 years I can’t think of any exceptions, I’ve been to all board meetings. It became kind of an obsession of mine I guess, as I noticed inconsistencies, problems with public meeting procedures, abuse of executive session, basically just a real disrespect of members of the board and members of the public. So I kept going. I’ve gone to all the meetings, including all the special board meetings, and for the bond and everything else. I did that out of a feeling that I wasn’t getting good information from the district and I really felt like I wanted to get that information first hand, that I wanted to hear for myself what was going on, not necessarily what I was being told. So that’s why I started going.
Victoria Purvine – I think I missed 3 regular board meetings in the last 2 years, been to all of the special board meetings, and only missed 2 of the budget committee meetings. I’d go with a 95% or pretty close to that.
Katey Kinnear – I will say that I haven’t been to one school board meeting. I have young kids, and been pregnant. Now that they are older I can leave them, or my mother has moved in with me and watches the kids. So now is my chance to be involved and that’s why I’m stepping up now to run for school board so I can be more involved, and my first school board meeting will be next Wednesday.
Question # 4 – What do you see as the best practice that the school board can implement to attempt to come to a school board consensus on future issues?
Katey Kinnear – I think having more protocols I guess, again involving the community. I don’t know, I haven’t been to the ones to know anymore information for that.
Victoria Purvine – I think the best thing the boards can do to try to reach consensus is to have discussion. To hold workshops for major things instead of having a “we’re in a board meeting, we’re talking about this, boom we are voting on this and we’re onto the next one”. Let’s have a workshop, let’s have actual back and forth. Let’s not have preconceived ideas when we’re going in there that this is what we’re going to do, and actually listen to what everyone has to say. If a board member doesn’t feel that they are being heard during a conversation, I can not expect that any member of this community feels like they are being heard.
It’s not that you have to have an agreement but you have to understand that by the time you’ve walked out of there, “ya know what, I heard what you had to say and you heard what I had to say”. Instead of saying “but by golly this is what we’re going to do” you say “where can we go that’s towards the middle where everybody can be served?” because the kids are going to be served when everybody’s heard and when everybody has a voice.
Stephen Knight – I do think that the best practice is going to be respectful discourse as Victoria mentioned. I think that on important issues other districts have a lot of “working” sessions prior to the voting sessions, where they have time to have thoughtful conversations, time to do more research, and time to come to conclusions.
I think that as far as if people feel like they’ve been heard and if people feel their motives have been questioned, I mentioned that earlier, that if we go into things with the idea that everybody wants what’s best for the district and nobody’s trying to do anything bad for the district, the students, or the teachers, you don’t have to have a problem with listening to others and coming up to a consensus. So I think working sessions, and I don’t think that forcing decisions at the last moment in response to a crisis is a real comfortable way to operate.
Lacey Auble – I’m on the same line of thinking on this. I think that there needs to be some back and forth. I think that people need a chance to be able to wrap their head around all the ideas. I think there needs to be plenty of time for preparation and for thoughtful discussion and I think we need a chance to be able to communicate throughout the community. At board meetings you can have comments from the community but the board doesn’t talk back, so how about quarterly meetings maybe, where all ideas come in and you have a discussion back and forth. Ya know, I think that if there’s preparation and there’s thoughtful discussion, and everyone feels heard, better ideas would come from that.
Kathryn Green – It is about discussion at these public board meetings and even between the board members. The members that are sitting up there that should know what’s coming down the pipe, researched the issues, and have some discussions. So that for instance, me sitting in the audience can have some hope of following. There’s so many times I’ve been in these meetings where issue 123.675 comes up and it’s “are we all in agreement, ok let’s vote”, and bam it’s done. I didn’t even know what that was. I got the agenda and read it, but all it has is a number?
So we need to have some real information out there for those of us that do go to the meetings. We’re there because we want to know, so we’ve got to get it out there. I would welcome hearing the board discuss things among themselves, “this is what we have before us, what does board member down the table have to say, what does somebody else have to say?” Let’s talk it out and then I’d be more able to follow what’s going on. I think that is what would get a solid board, a strong board, moving in the right direction to be able to make decisions that we can hopefully all live with comfortably.
Marguerite Perry – Yeah I agree up to all that. I think you come prepared and do your homework first. There’s two questions there, what’s within the board and also what’s between the board and the community. Within the board, I think the way it’s set up is really frustrating if you’re out in the audience because you don’t get to see any discussion. I need to find out because I know there’s some laws, like you don’t get to have secret board meetings or private board meetings or something like that. So you can have workshops or work sessions? She is looking at and asking Victoria Purvine, who nods yes. So are those open to the public? Victoria again nods yes. Ok that’d be great.
And also the whole idea of finding that common ground, I really underline that, I think that ideas and motivations, we’ve got to assume the best. That everybody has the best motivation, and as far as outside between the board and the community, Yep, some public communication forums, some online question and answer areas, something to be done so that there is a way when your sitting in a board meeting and you hear this stuff going on, the public comment session it’s kind of useless in a way because all you get is that it’s just one sided, the board is not allowed to discuss it back so there needs to be someway to do that. It would really go a long way to help us feel unified.
Question # 5 – The district has had some serious ethical issues in the recent past, if something like this is to happen in the future, how do you feel the school board should handle these types of issues that reflect poorly upon this community as a whole, and its children’s schools?
Marguerite Perry – Once again I’m going to say you follow the rules. You go to the policies that are written for the school district and you go to Oregon state labor laws and that’s pretty much all you can do so that’s my answer.
Kathryn Green – My answer would be that obviously it’s going to be case by case but since the past was brought up, if they are like the issues that have come upon us as of late, if I were on the school board I would have to say I would totally follow the law but I would look to remove any employee that chooses to act in a way that is unethical, unprofessional, and shows poorly upon this community. Not to mention they are around our students, my student, and I don’t think it’s a great place, if you want to play those types of games, to be working. I would work to remove that particular employee.
Lacey Auble – I think it’s important to follow any guidelines or rules that are put in place for this type of thing. I think if you don’t that could open things up to litigation. There’s standard operating procedure that’s put into place and this is no different. If something were to happen I think that you need to follow the procedures that are in place for that, but I think that if you start down that road you need to finish down that road. You know there’s no room for doing it halfway.
Stephen Knight – I think the crux of the question was how should the board handle some of these issues. I think the question answers itself, in that the board should handle them. They shouldn’t be covered up, they should be presented to the full board, they shouldn’t be handled by the board chair independently. We have public meeting laws, we have executive session rules, they should be adhered to. I think that’s the main thing in terms of including the level of trust and transparency, would be to bring things out. Let the board discuss them, don’t try to withhold information from board members, it’s kind of silly. I think that would go a long way to the board regaining its hold of enforcing accountability and exercising oversight, which are two of the primary functions of the board.
Victoria Purvine – The only employee that the board has, is the superintendent. The other employees are employed by the district, so if there is an issue with teachers or staff and so forth, there are policies in place that it’s handled at various levels, and the board would not be involved in any of the decision making. Unless it came up to a question of our one employee. If it does happen to be that one person, then the board, I feel, should meet as a group in executive session, discuss it, and follow what is out there for protocol. If there isn’t something that addresses it then go meet with attorneys, or have a discussion. I think those should be board decisions when it comes down to the board, but again the board only has one employee, so if it’s other staff members, that is not something the board gets involved with.
Katey Kinnear – I think the board should follow the protocols and laws, on a case by case basis. Just because the fact there may be different things that have happened, that’s not detrimental to the school or the community. So I think just case by case basis on having it done.
Question # 6 – From your perspective please tell us 3 reasons you think the previous bonds have failed.
Katey Kinnear – One I would say the distrust in the community. Two would be lack of information in the community and involvement and three having a solid plan for it to come out on paper and show what’s going to be done, what could be done with what we have now to a new building.
Victoria Purvine – What I heard repeatedly from people who came to board meetings was there was a lack of trust with the administration and the board as a whole, and so there was not the faith behind what we were doing. That needs to be worked on. The other is I think we went out the first time for our wants and not our needs and people were not willing to back that. They wanted to just go with the needs. The third one for me would be that we are again not getting input from the community first on what they are willing to support, and instead, we are going the other direction and telling them what we want them to do. I really think we need to slow down and get community input.
Stephen Knight – I think we’ve heard the fact that there’s been no long range plan presented to begin with, and that this has not been one element of that long term plan. I think that there is a lack of trust in the board and the administration now, and I do think that there’s a lack of communication with the public.
My background is in construction management, I work in commercial construction for large companies, worked on large projects. I’ve seen billion dollar hospital projects with a lot of different stake holders come together much more easily and much more cleanly then what we see around here. It doesn’t have to be that complicated, it doesn’t have to be that hard. There is an answer and I think that everybody sitting in here is part of that answer. People being involved and people seeking out the information on their own, and not necessarily listening to scare tactics, or rumors, or being fed information. I think that everybody wants to get accurate information in order to vote.
Lacey Auble – I think one of the main reasons is not the lack of trust but I think a lot of the community does not feel respected by the administration currently and I think that could be for many reasons. It could be that they don’t feel like they’re heard, it could be they feel like it’s not a democracy, it’s a monopoly. Ya know, we’re a small town, we should feel like we have a say at what goes on at our school and I don’t think everyone feels that way.
Also too, there was a consensus that we were over reaching and asking for more than we really needed, you know, there’s a big fancy school in Sandy and I heard a lot of people in the community say we don’t need that for Corbett. We don’t need a big fancy school like Sandy, we need what we need, and that’s it.
Another big thing I heard is that, ya know, our property taxes are pretty high now and we don’t want to pay for outside kids, we don’t want to pay for charter kids, we want to pay for our kids to go to school here. So I think that those are three big reasons and I’m sure that there’s many others. Many people live out here and I’m sure that each of us has a little different take on why we voted yes or no, and I think that it would benefit to hear those reasons and go from there.
Kathryn Green – I agree with everything said so far, trust, no clear plan, the scare tactics. The one major thing for me was the lack of maintenance, the lack of preservation, and the lack of caring for the facilities that we have. There are things that could be clean that aren’t cleaned, there are things that could be repaired that aren’t repaired. I won’t buy my children new things if they destroy their old things, your not going to get it. Take care of what you have, respect what you have, show me you have it, and then we can talk.
Marguerite Perry – I just want to answer one thing about that I’m close to the custodians there, I have an office in the basement of that middle/high school or whatever you want to call it, and those guys are working their tails off and I don’t know what else they can do. You can’t take care of it if you don’t have the staff or the money.
For me it looked like it got mixed up with lots of other issues, it wasn’t the bond people were voting on. It was tangled up with personal opinions. It was tangled up with the whole charter school mess that was going on. I don’t think it was a clean decision, and it was a clean issue. It was tangled with other things and I think that in fact affected its failure.
I also feel it was hard to know what to believe. We had diametrically opposed facts coming out from this site and that site, and from this side and that side, so for me it was really hard to try and get to the bottom of what the actual facts, and who said what, what engineers said, and this and that. I think before we do it again having a really fool proof way of getting the actual facts out would be great.
I think we’re just coming out of a recession and I think there was an element of people thinking “well gosh my property taxes are finally getting some relief” and not being able to support the idea of more taxes, but this is how I look at it, our grandparents and our parents, they didn’t live in good times either a lot of them, and they managed to support and buy school buildings for all of us, and as we get bumped up that ladder of life I feel like it’s our turn to do that now.
Question # 7 – A. Do you think that it’s difficult to have a community feel when over half of the students are coming from outside of the community? B. What would you do to address the community members that have pulled their kids into other districts?
Marguerite Perry – The community feel, that’s what we all like here, if half the students are coming from out of the community, well, do we have a lot of options? If we do, I would love to hear them. I think that from what I’ve experienced about these kids coming from out of the district is that other students don’t even know who they are sometimes. They don’t differentiate in their own classrooms, in the school it changes things, but I see that they turn out for sports, that they turn out for the other activities. I think that any differentiation is pretty minor from what I’ve seen. So I don’t think it’s going to affect our community feel. We have lots of great things going on in the community, our resident students and people, are still coming out in droves for everything that happens. So A, I don’t think we have much choice, and B, I don’t see it really messing things up too much.
Asks for part B again, regarding What would you do to address the community members that have pulled their kids into other districts?
B. I don’t think that’s happening much from what I’ve seen. It’s way less then it was, I mean the trend has gone down a lot. But I always know that there’s going to be some kids and some families who are going to have problems. I had lots of problems, we had kids that we pulled in and out of the school all the time because they just couldn’t fit into the mold. I’d say every parent has to make their own decisions, they know their kid the best. Your not going to be able to get what you need from some schools, your just not. So you have to decide for yourself what works best.
Kathryn Green – Small community, can we get that feeling even though we have kids coming in from outside, absolutely. Everything is always going to grow, don’t think that anything is shrinking. I think that our teachers, our students, and our community, whether it’s at the store, or the post office, or whatever, I think we do a great job of giving a sense of community to everyone. Anyone that’s going to the schools is definitely a member of the community as I see it. I think it’s a positive and we can all make it a good thing.
B. As far as what I would say to parents whose children have left the district, and I guess I know a few more than other people may know. Ya know, we don’t do exit interviews. We discussed up here how when parents, myself included at times, do not feel listened to, or respected by the administration or the school board. If I as an adult can’t get you to listen, or feel respected, I am going to start to worry about my youngster and how they’re being treated. And if I don’t have anybody up there at that school that I can get a straight answer with, or that I can talk to about issues, sometimes the only thing you can do is pull and run. So I would ask for exit interviews, I welcome, and I do talk to parents who have pulled their kids, and yeah there are issues. They are issues that should be addressed. The school board should have this information, they should look at exit interviews and see if there are, or are not, any trends, and we should deal with it.
Lacey Auble – So for the community feel I don’t think kids coming in from outside the district affects our small community feel. I think that as long as we keep it at a workable number, now I’m not talking about getting huge, but if we keep it at a workable number the kids don’t often know, as was previously stated. The kids don’t know who comes from out of district until they get a birthday party invitation, and oh yeah my moms driving me into Gresham to go to a birthday party, and so I think that maybe we can learn a lot from our kids in that sense. Ya know, there’s an innocence to the kids that we should follow and our community has a lot going on too. We’ve got the fun fest, the light parade at Christmas, and all sorts of stuff. Having kids come from outside, ya know, we’ve got the helping hands program at the grange, there’s square dances. Kids coming from outside the district to the schools doesn’t change that. We’re still Corbett.
B. For the parents who feel like they needed to take their kids out of the school the first thing that came to my mind when I heard that, is I’m sorry. That saddens me, I mean, I want you to do what you needed to do for your kids, as a parent I would do anything for my kids, ya know? I think if you have done that and you felt that was what you needed to do, then good on you for standing up for what your kids need. My first instinct is that saddens me. I feel like we should be listening to parents and I feel like that, you know, if it’s not working for that child let’s find a plan that works. Every child is an individual, every single one. What works for one may not work for all. Let’s find what works for every one.
Stephen Knight – In terms of the community feel, I think absolutely we still have the community feel. The kids aren’t wearing name tags that say whether they live here or not. When I’m chaperoning a field trip I don’t necessarily know which kids or which parents are coming from someplace else. I don’t think that’s something we need to be concerned about.
B. Kids that are being pulled out of district and into other districts, I think that the first step is to acknowledge its happening. A lot of people are saying “oh it’s not happening”, and it should be a fairly easy statistic to find because the state money is following the kids. So let’s find out what the real number is, and then let’s ask why? Why aren’t we asking, why is our district not able to serve these kids?
We offer some unique programs, experimental programs; multi age, AP for all, no grades at the middle school, is it working? Are we looking back and validating these experiments to find out whether they are serving our kids or not? I don’t think it’s improved our performance necessarily, we are still about average for the state. I don’t think that all the back patting, and saying that we’re a world class school district and nationally ranked, I don’t think that’s helpful if your not looking for continuous improvement. I think the real metric is state wide, and we run about the same as everybody else, despite our unique programs.
One of the distressing things that you hear about is some kids that are leaving are because their parents feel that they’re being treated differently based on who their parents are, based on their parents last name, based on their parents voting record, based on their parents politics. I don’t know if it’s true but there’s the perception that it is, and that perception is very, very, damaging. I think these are all things that we need to be asking the parents who are choosing to pull their kids out.
Victoria Purvine – A. I think that we can have community in the school regardless of where the kids are coming from. I think that what happens is when politics end up in the school, and parents don’t feel welcome to come into the school, because of what they have said, or how they have voted, or what they’ve let them know. What I have found is that it’s very easy for people to say “I support this bond”, well then your kind of one of the great people, you care about the kids. If somebody else over here says “ya know I don’t support the bond” what I have had, is people stop listening to your reasons and you’re a bad person, and you don’t support the kids.
Stephen talked about the “good people and the bad people” and there shouldn’t be good people and bad people, what there needs to be is “did we all hear the reasons why they supported something and the reasons why somebody didn’t?” Can we have a conversation about that instead of like “oh my gosh I can’t walk into the school because everybody down there’s mad at me because I said I’m not voting for this bond and these are my reasons, and they’re not heard.” It becomes that politics end up at the school whether or not this is the intention of the staff. It happens where people feel uncomfortable to go to the school. We need to work on that so everybody is allowed to have an opinion without being labeled in a negative manner for that. That is where I think we are having the community issue, it’s with the feeling of the adults and how they’re being treated. I think the children are doing fine.
B. I was looking at ODE’s (Oregon department of education) website yesterday and the district report card, I think it says we have an average of 3.9% transfer out of district for the last three years. I’m not sure if they’re counting the whole 1300 kids, if they’re counting district side and charter side etc., as it gets very complicated but it was about a 3.9 transfer out average the last 3 years.
Katey Kinnear – A. Me working in the classrooms, the students don’t know who lives where unless they’ve been to their house, I mean, with the younger kids. I still think we have that small community. I don’t see that to be a problem.
B. For me working in the office, I input a lot of the personal data of all the kids in, that come in and out, and it’s quite a process, and I don’t, I mean, there’s kids that leave and I would like to know why they’re leaving, and you know how to change it cause there may be kids in the district that have that same problem but they’re still here struggling because they can’t afford to leave. So I would like to see why they’re leaving and fix that. But I don’t see like handfuls and handfuls of kids leaving, and I would be the first one to know, inputting and exporting, all of that information. But I would like to see why they’re leaving and how to take care of that problem.
Jason Gates – Ok so I have 2 questions left and before I read those I just want to say It’s been an honor to be a part of this process with this community, this respectful process. The candidates I think have all done a good job of respecting this process. It’s very American and I’m glad that I was able to be a part of it. Thank you for having me.
I know we didn’t get to all of the questions, I tried to filter them out and combined some. Quite frankly some of the questions were mean, a little more mean than was fair for some of the candidates, but I think we still addressed some of those issues that you had questions about. Please feel free to ask the person yourselves.
Question # 8 – Recently the teachers of Corbett schools emailed candidates questions to find out how each candidate would support Corbett schools, did you reply? If you did not reply, do you plan on communicating with the teachers of Corbett in the future, why or why not?
Katey Kinnear – I did reply to those 3 questions and I have no reason to have not replied.
Victoria Purvine – I did not reply. The reason I did not reply was because it was asking if we wanted to be endorsed by the Teachers Association, and I do not feel that the school board should be teacher endorsed. I think that the teachers should go ahead and do what they want to do, as individuals, but a school board needs to be neutral. I think that when you have a teacher endorsement you’re no longer neutral.
There is a sense sometimes that you got elected because of this, so maybe you owe something to them, and when something comes up you’re not as impartial as you need to be. So I made the choice to not turn in the answers but I have no problem communicating with the teachers. Some teachers have called me who want to talk to me, and send me emails, so I just feel that this was inappropriate.
Stephen Knight – I did not answer the questions, I just felt the endorsement process was just going to increase the politicization of the school, and the classrooms themselves. As far as endorsements go, I was not endorsed, but the endorsement said that it was a unanimous decision, which I found kind of interesting because I’ve spoken to a number of teachers who have come out and told me that they were planning on supporting my candidacy. I sort of question the whole idea of the endorsement process. In terms of communicating with the teachers the district has clear policies so the board doesn’t deal with teachers directly.
Lacey Auble – I responded, I didn’t have anything to hide and I’d reply to anyone.
KathrynGreen – I don’t have anything to hide either, but, I am not looking for endorsements. I think that like Stephen said there are policies in place for staff and board interactions.
Margueite Perry – Well I have the letter and nothing on it says it’s an endorsement or looking to give an endorsement. I did reply and I also answered questions from the women’s league of voters.
Question # 9 – What is your #1 issue and how would you resolve it if you were on the school board?
Marguerite Perry – I think class size has changed and that is the number one issue to me. I think class size should always be a top priority so that’s my biggest issue.
Kathryn Green – What is my major issue that I would like to improve should I get on the school board? That would be to get that school board talking. To have discussions out there in the open, where the public can hear should they want to come and listen. Get each board members’ opinion on these separate issues and what’s going on. I think we should start a dialogue, and I think that I can help with that, and I think that’s the most important is to get these school board members talking to each other at the board meetings, so it can be heard.
Lacey Auble – If elected I think the first thing I would like to see is better communication from the board to the community. Along with that, I think it has a lot to do with communicating with each other amongst the board. I think that if they communicate amongst themselves and then communicate that out, it just seems like it’s kind of the elephant in the room, that there’s not enough communication.
The second thing I would like to see is better maintenance of our facilities. I think that we need to become better stewards, I know they are overworked but I’d like to see a better plan to improve that. Those are the first couple things I’d like.
Stephen Knight – Several number ones, I think that we need to understand some of the budget challenges we have coming up right now, understanding about small school funding that might be going away, the 2.6 million one time dollars that we might be receiving, what are we going to be doing with them? The charter school says we owe them money, do we? We haven’t heard any discussion about that. There’s a lot of different financial issues that I don’t think have been explored, so just putting us on a path towards fiscal responsibility, is a major concern.
I think a long term facilities plan is a high priority because we need to allow ourselves enough time to create the plan, and communicate that, prior to going out for a bond.
I do think also improving communication. Some immediate steps is to broadcast the board meetings, other districts do it. Why can’t we? We could do it online, we could do it on Comcast. What are we afraid of, on not doing that? We could have a big projector screen up so that people can see the actual items in the board packet, while we are talking about them.
I do think those are all things that we could improve upon immediately. I do think working sessions with the board would help to facilitate discussions, and streamline the process, so that decisions are not all crammed into the regular board meetings.
Victoria Purvine – I would like to see that we have more reports that came out to the board and in the board packets, out to the community so everybody has the same information. There wouldn’t be any “I heard from this person”, “well I heard from that person”, or “I stopped into and talked to”. We would all have the same information, it would be available for the public, we would all be able to communicate. I would like to be able to request a report and get it. There’s other boards that do this.
I would like to see that we are transparent, really transparent, where like the accreditation report would be on our website for people to see, our Division 22 report to be on the website for people to see, and other reports that are the basic nuts and bolts of how your school operates, are there to be pulled up. Everybody then has the same information, and nobody is playing the “well that’s not what I heard” game, because you can all go to one spot, and you can see exactly what was said. That would be something I would like to see, more transparency.
Katey Kinnear – As like the rest have said, I would like to see more discussion between the board members and with the community. I myself would like to start an online forum for that. Quarterly meetings or newsletter type, something to get it out to the community. Being informed is the most important I think. I would like to get a plan in for the facilities and how to fix what we have.
Dave Mysinger Thanks the moderator and candidates, and the community for coming out tonight.
A few points and facts to share
* There have been 46 board meetings in the last 2 years. This does not count budget committee or facility committee meetings. These were all however board meetings. Regular meetings and special (often short notice) board meetings. So candidates who stated they attend 1/2 or 2/3 of these meetings (Lacey Auble & Margarite Perry) that would mean 23-34 meetings were attended by them. I did not see those candidates regularly at meetings. I’d say no more than a handful of meetings in the last several years, maybe 3-6 at the most were attended by either of them, and usually only surrounding the highly publicized bond related meetings. I did see candidates Kathryn Green & Stephen Knight regularly at meetings, and Victoria Purvine as she is a current board member. I am stating this simply for clarification of the facts and the amount of meetings as it is relevant to whom has knowledge of how a school board operates and who has the better understanding of all current issues our district is facing.
* Also note posted (above) is a copy of the correspondence from the teachers union, you can see for yourself it does state may be used for endorsement purposes, contrary to what Marguerite Perry stated in a question response.
* Our Principals do teach but it’s about 1-3 hours out of the 8 hour school day. The average salary for principals in our state is $74,000. We pay ours all at or over $100,000. plus benefits x 4 of them. Our superintendents’ salary of approximately $145,000. plus benefits is very similar to those superintendents in our neighboring districts who oversee 11,000+ students and 19 schools, when we have only 1,300 students and a few schools, in comparison.
* A 3.9% leave rate equates to about 50 kids per year leaving Corbett schools for unknown reasons. (These spots are filled with new students so it doesn’t affect our population or funding.)
* There were a few minutes not recorded as I had to change batteries in the recorder. However, I was also hand writing notes during the forum as well.