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School district struggles to fill Chenowith board post

The North Wasco County School Board is seeking community members to apply for the long-vacant Zone 3 board member position.

The deadline for applications has been extended to Aug. 14.

Under normal circumstances, a member of the community living within Zone 3, which extends from Irvine Street near the Wahtonka Community School over to Walnut Street and down to almost the middle of 10th, would apply and be approved for the position.

However, according to Vice Chair Carol Roderick, this hasn’t happened for almost two years.

“I’ve called everybody I know to try and get the spot filled, and over the last couple of years, it’s really been a challenge,” she said.

Board Chair Ernie Blatz, who paid a visit to Chenowith Elementary School in an attempt to raise awareness and engage parents’ interest in applying for the position in the past, said the Zone 3 slot has historically been a difficult one to fill.

“It’s been open for well over a year already,” he said. “We’ve put notices in the paper and have tried to recruit people and nobody’s stepped up who actually lives inside the zone.”

Since no one has come forward, the board has the option to appoint someone from outside the zone to serve on the board in a temporary capacity until June 30, 2015.

“At this point, we have the option to appoint someone at large to carry us through to the next election,” Blatz said, “and the board has decided that’s what’s in our best interests to do.”

Interested citizens can log onto http://www.nwas

co.k12.or.us/domain/21 to access the application and can contact Cindy Miller at millerc@nwasco.k12.or.us or call 541-506-3420 ext. 1002 for more information. Completed applications should be submitted to the superintendent’s office at 3632 West 10th Street, The Dalles, by Aug. 14.

“We’re hoping that by appointing someone now, it’ll make more people aware that the seat’s been empty for so long,” Roderick said. “We can only appoint someone a year at a time, so it’s not anything permanent, but we need to do it if we want a full board with as much community representation as possible.”

In its most recent meetings, the board discussed the possibility of rezoning the district to eliminate Zone 3, incorporating it into the boundaries of another zone and thereby reducing the number of board members from seven to six.

Superintendent Candy Armstrong reminded the board at the July 24 meeting that they needn’t rush into making a decision on the rezoning issue, as the process for re-drawing the boundaries would take a considerable amount of time and the board would likely be unable to submit all the necessary documents in time for next year.

“What the appointment does is buys us some time to figure out what we want to do and gives someone who’s interested in serving on the board the opportunity to try it out without having to commit to the customary 4-year term,” she said at the meeting. “So we’ll encourage anyone who lives within the boundaries of District 21 to apply for the interim seat.”

“I think we need to be careful with rezoning it just yet, anyway,” Roderick said. “I want people to be more aware of the need first and that no one’s been coming forward before we try and do away with anything. I think people have a tendency to stand back and assume someone else is going to do it for them, but that’s just not the case here.”

Roderick said the board encourages anyone who is interested to apply, especially those who live within the current boundaries of Zone 3.

“If they have any interest in caring for and contributing to our schools and in representing the interests of our local taxpayers, they need to seriously consider stepping up to fill the position,” she said. “It’s important, we all need to take a turn at the wheel once in a while.”

To learn more about the district, visit the district’s website at www.nwasco.k12.or.us.

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