Challenge issued in Central Linn.
BROWNSVILLE-Central Linn School Board incumbent John Holbrook will face a challenge for his Zone 6 seat May 17 from a one-time spokesman for a group that has been a thorn in the side of board and administration officials for several years.
Meanwhile, incumbent and family farm owner Patricia McConnel is running unopposed for the Zone 4 position. And school volunteer/stay-at-home dad Chris Wyne will face oil company lubrication specialist Jeff Cooper for the Zone 7 seat being vacated by departing board member Reid Anderson.
Paper mill maintenance supervisor Jerry Goss said he is seeking to unseat Holbrook because he believes the board needs to "open up and listen to the community more" and leave fewer decisions to district administrators.
"This district is like a $5 million business," he said. "I think all six people on the board should manage the budget, but this board seems to let the administration do that."
He added that he also wants to try to rebuild community trust in an administration and board that has been the subject of state investigations and charges. The Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commission found the district's school board guilty of violating state public meetings law on 17 occasions in 2002-03. The commission found the abuses so flagrant that it fined each board member $150 personally.
In addition, the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission has charged district Superintendent Max Harrell and former district principal Ed Sansom with gross neglect of duty over Harrell's hiring of Sansom before the principal was licensed as an Oregon administrator.
A similar charge is pending against a Central Linn High School student activities director and coach, Scott Reed, for allegedly licking the bleeding wounds of several student athletes. The school district had placed Reed on probation after he acknowledged one such incident and required him to repeat a blood-borne pathogens class.
A loose-knit community group calling itself Caring Citizens for Kids and Community had filed complaints that led to the charges against the administrators. Goss said he had agreed to serve as spokesman for the groupbut held no formal leadership position within it.
Holbrook, who owns a real estate management firm, is a two-term incumbent with eight years of board service. He said he is running again "because I enjoy being on the board and it takes a while to really understand the funding process and how the school system works. I have some goals I'd like to see through, and now I feel like I can be more effective."
Those goals include returning to a five-day school week after trying a four-day schedule in an attempt to save money, reopening the shuttered Brownsville School and moving the district's middle school students out of the high school and back to their own campus.
Holbrook had no comment on Goss except to say that he'd known and liked him for years, and had tried to address some of Goss' concerns.
Shaunna Schukis, who has also been a spokesperson for Caring Citizens, said it will not make formal endorsements, though some members may work for particular candidates.
"We are looking forward to this election," she said. "It's time for change, for new people to get on the board. We encourage everyone to vote."