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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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School Board Can Be Tough Job

Serving on a school board is not for the faint of heart.

That’s the consensus of a handful of former and current school board members.

“It’s a scary proposition frankly,” said George Orr, a former member of the Central Valley School Board. “There were a couple of times I was going to quit. What you say and do can impact 10,000 kids, a couple of thousand employees and millions of dollars.”

No one should consider serving on a school board to further a personal agenda or get rid of a superintendent or coach, said Karen Loibl, who has served 12 years on the West Valley School Board.

“There are other channels to handle those concerns … A good reason to get on the board is for the good of the children.”

With the five-day filing period for school board candidacies opening Monday, some might be wondering what serving on a school board entails. The answers include time, learning and learning to work together.

Time for meetings, some of them a lasting a half day or longer. Time to attend school plays, concerts, games. And time to read.

Central Valley board member Patty Minnihan said she’s taken as much as 10 hours to read the thick packets of information provided before each bimonthly board meeting.

“I set aside days every now and then to catch up on the reading,” said Minnihan, a former teacher.

Norma Ventris, who has served nine years on the West Valley School Board, also had a background in education. She worked as secretary to three West Valley school superintendents.

“So I kind of knew what the scoop was,” Ventris said. “I used to prepare those packets for board members.”

Still, these board members describe the job as a tough one.

Loibl gives state workshops to new school board members.

“They become one of five people who function together for the good of the school district. Sometimes these people come together, they don’t know each other, and suddenly they’re in a position where they have to work together.”

Remembering the big picture is crucial, Loibl said.

“One thing I enjoyed,” Orr said, “was negotiating with the bus drivers. Well, we had no idea why they wanted the things they wanted, so we went out on the buses.” That meant being at Central Valley’s bus barn, aboard a bus, at 6 a.m.

“Today in education, there are so many changes,” Ventris said. “It really is time consuming, if you put your self into it.”

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: SCHOOL ELECTIONS The following Valley school board members’ seats are up for election this fall: Central Valley: Craig Holmes and Gary Hann. East Valley: June Sine, Karen Cecil and Karl Wilkinson. Freeman: Joe Dahmen and Dave Koch. Liberty: Mike Connelly, Ione Felgenhauer, Brad Konshuk and George Engle. Orchard Prairie: Stephen Flinn, Arnold McDonald and Debra Stephens. West Valley: Jim Williams, Pete Schweda and William Zimmer.

This sidebar appeared with the story: SCHOOL ELECTIONS The following Valley school board members’ seats are up for election this fall: Central Valley: Craig Holmes and Gary Hann. East Valley: June Sine, Karen Cecil and Karl Wilkinson. Freeman: Joe Dahmen and Dave Koch. Liberty: Mike Connelly, Ione Felgenhauer, Brad Konshuk and George Engle. Orchard Prairie: Stephen Flinn, Arnold McDonald and Debra Stephens. West Valley: Jim Williams, Pete Schweda and William Zimmer.

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