Issaquah School Board seeks applicants for vacancy

January 22, 2013

By Lillian O'Rorke

A seat on the Issaquah School Board is up for grabs.

Board member Chad Magendanz left the position when he resigned Jan. 9 in order to start his new job in the state Legislature.

The remaining four board members have 90 days to appoint a new representative from Issaquah’s fourth district, from the Issaquah Highlands through the downtown corridor south to Tiger Mountain and Mirrormont.

All voting-aged residents of that area are invited to apply for the position by 4 p.m. Feb. 14. The new member would need to serve the remainder of Magendanz’s term, through November 2013.

“If there is someone who is passionate about public education and wants to make a difference but doesn’t want to go to Olympia, the local school board is the place,” said Brian Deagle, board president.

Get involved

Find complete application details, including candidate questions, on the Issaquah School District website, www.issaquah.wednet.edu.

Candidates must verify they live within District 4. An official map is available at the district’s administrative offices. Candidates must also submit a packet that includes three letters of recommendation, a written explanation of why they want to serve on the school board, a biographical statement outlining things such as their education, experience and community activities, and brief responses to eight questions.

Interviews have tentatively been scheduled for 7 p.m. March 6 and, if needed, March 20.

Since Magendanz’s election to the Legislature in November, the board has known he was planning to resign. Deagle explained that they wanted to wait until he officially stepped down before starting the process to replace him.

“As long as Chad was still serving on the board, we didn’t have a vacancy to fill,” Deagle said.

After Magendanz resigned, Deagle and fellow board member Suzanne Weaver formed a subcommittee to compile the eight candidate questions.

The two started with the questions used the last time a vacancy opened up outside of the general election. Overall, Deagle said, a few tweaks were made to the language while the concepts of the questions didn’t change.

“In terms of the issues and the hot topics in public education, a lot of them are the same as they have been in recent appointments,” he said. “The approach to our governance model has not changed.”

The biggest change came to question No. 7, which asks for candidates thoughts on how the board might better evaluate progress in “soft skills” such as citizenship, personal awareness and expression, and life management. The importance of those things, Deagle explained, was brought to light during the debate over Liberty High School’s schedule, which allows for more electives.

“The educational experience of our children is more than we can measure on our standardized tests,” he said. “It is one of the important ones that we struggle with as a board … we don’t have a lot of things to point to, to say we are doing really well here.”

Until the empty seat is filled, there will be just four board members — Deagle, Weaver, Marnie Maraldo and Anne Moore — leaving open the possibility of 2-2 tie. If that happens, they must continue to work on the issue until one person changes his or her vote or they agree that there can be no board action.

The new board member can expect to devote about 20 hours a month to his or her duties, which include at least two official business meetings each month. While the position is voluntary, board members can request reimbursement for travel and $50 per meeting, up to $4,800 per year.

“It is a significant time commitment, but it’s not an impossible time commitment,” said Deagle, adding that like himself, it’s possible to work full time and be a school board member.

He also wanted people to know that they didn’t have to already be in a school administrative position to apply; they just need passion for public education.

“Part of the board’s diversity is about people with a range of different experiences,” he said. “If someone is interested in serving and wants to learn more about what does it even mean, the nuts and bolts, come to a board meeting, listen to a podcast, reach out to any of us.”

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