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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Public Schools board appoints Michael Wiser to vacant seat

A father of two with health care and management experience is the newest member of the Spokane Public Schools board.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday night to appoint Michael Wiser to a vacant seat.

Wiser is the vice president of Strategic Planning for CHAS Health and has an MBA from the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.

“Running for school board has been one of those things I’ve thrown around for the last decade or two,” he said.

Once his two daughters enrolled in Spokane Public Schools, he became even more interested, Wiser said. His daughters attend Franklin Elementary and Sacajawea Middle School. Although he’s not an expert on school policy, he said he follows education news. He believes his work at CHAS, and in health care, has primed him for the intricacies of education policy.

“I think there are a lot of analogous situations,” he said. “Especially around trying to close health disparities and trying to close the achievement gap.”

His No. 1 priority will be closing the achievement gap, he said. He’s also interested in class-size reduction and other issues around the state Supreme Court’s mandate to increase school funding, continuing the district’s policy of providing educational options such as charter and choice schools and bringing more attention to the overlap between health and education disparities.

He didn’t apply to the board in hopes of radically shaking things up, he said. Instead his “outlook on Spokane Public Schools is positive.”

Wiser was selected from a pool of 16 applicants and will replace former board member Bob Douthitt, who announced his resignation Jan. 19.

The seven finalists were interviewed by board members Monday and Tuesday.

“I think he brings a different voice and a different set of experiences to the board that will help us best represent our community,” said board member Susan Chapin during the Tuesday night meeting.

Board President Deana Brower said she is impressed by Wiser’s professional experience and community involvement.

“You know, we try not to have board members with the same group-think mindset at the table,” she said.

Wiser will be sworn in March 22 when the board will consider changes to the district’s use-of-force policies. They postponed voting on these changes in part to allow the new board member to participate.

In 2009, The Spokesman-Review wrote about Wiser, who was a stay-at-home dad at the time. Wiser was born in Spokane and graduated from Lewis and Clark High School.

Wiser will have to run for election in November’s general election if he wants to keep the seat. That term will last two years. Brower’s board seat also will be up for election in November. That seat is a six-year term. Brower said she may run for the two-year seat, instead of running for her current position.