Before her final Spokane Public Schools board meeting, outgoing director Deana Brower vowed not to get too emotional.
So she read from a script, which didn’t help: Brower got through perhaps 10 seconds of a two-minute farewell speech. Her voice cracking in front of a packed boardroom Wednesday night, Brower concluded eight years on the board by thanking her colleagues, Superintendent Shelley Redinger, district staff and her family.
“Teamwork makes the dream work,” said Brower, who along with board members Sue Chapin and Brian Newberry are moving on to more time with their families.
Midway through the meeting, their places were taken by election winners Nikki Lockwood, Jenny Slagle and Kevin Morrison. Each was sworn in by Redinger.
The changeover – three new members out of five – is unprecedented for Spokane. It represented a changing of the guard – and garb as well, at least for Slagle, who wore a Yakama Indian dress.
“It’s for very important ceremonies and celebrations,” Slagle said after sitting with Lockwood, Morrison and returning board members Jerrall Haynes and Mike Wiser.
The new board quickly elected Haynes as president and Wiser as vice president and got on with the agenda: capital projects, teaching and learning services, and the district budget.
A few folks stuck around for those items but most wanted to hear from the decision-makers, especially from the outgoing members.
Newberry, who had served since fall 2017, told the audience, “Today is a day to celebrate our new board members,” and that he, Chapin and Brower “can walk out of this room standing tall.”
Chapin, who served since 2007, said, “other than being a parent,” serving on the board was “the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life.”
Chapin commended the new members for having “already demonstrated a commitment to children and their education.” She also reminded them they serve at-large, representing the entire district – including “some who don’t think like you do.”
Brower set the tone for the evening.
“No sex-ed on the agenda, and the room is packed,” Brower said to chuckles.
Then she got serious, recapping some recent accomplishments: development of a strategic plan, full-day kindergarten, last year’s landmark capital bond and improvements in technical education, Montessori, On Track Academy and The Community School.
Brower also praised Redinger as a “courageous and brave leader.”
“Working together has been a highlight of this experience,” Brower said.
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