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Citizen's View: John Wallin: Exchange of ideas 'absolutely essential' for future

I began my journey of running for school board shortly before Christmas, with conversations with all current board members, as well as superintendents past and present.

When I announced my candidacy, I talked to community leaders, teachers, staff members, students and parents all over town. I went to PTO meetings and candidate forums. I filled out questionnaires. I drank a lot of coffee. I wanted to know: What is most important for me to learn about our schools and students?

I’ve certainly learned some of what people are worried about: aging buildings, class sizes, classroom space, student safety, standardized testing — and more issues keep coming, like last week’s state Supreme Court decision that overturns the Legislature’s PERS reform and threatens school funding.

I hope I talked to you at a forum, PTO meeting or over coffee and heard your ideas and concerns. Maybe you read my voter’s pamphlet statement or visited wallinforlosd.com or facebook.com/wallinforlosd.

But I know I probably didn’t talk to you. I’m really sorry about that. I bet you would have told me something I never thought of, or pointed something out I never knew.

I heard more than once, “I bet you’re glad you’re running unopposed!” Well, I’m glad I didn’t have to spend a lot of money, but at the same time, the exchange of ideas is harder as an unopposed candidate. And I believe that exchange of ideas will be absolutely essential for our district in the next few years.

We will be working toward a bond measure that is critical to the long-term viability of our school district. Not only do we have to catch up on years of deferred building maintenance, but we also must give serious thought to how this bond can help us prepare our students for an incomparable 21st century education in today’s exciting, but challenging, world.

I know the residents of Lake Oswego care deeply about education, whether they have children in the schools today or not. We want our schools to be viewed among the best statewide and across the nation. That does not translate into a blank check. The district must communicate its needs, but it must also listen to what students, parents, teachers, local businesses and the community wants. Transparency is absolutely vital.

The district is making the right moves. For example, I recently completed Citizen’s Academy, in which the district gave detailed insight into education and political policy, as well as its functions and responsibilities. This kind of program will serve the community well in coming years.

I will bring to the board my 14 years in the schools and a background in communications, professionally as well as with the Schools Foundation and the school levy renewal. I want us to communicate well not only to Lake Oswego, but also to the world beyond about our success.

One attendee at a forum jokingly told me, “Why are you here? You’re unopposed. I have to vote for you.” Of course, this isn’t true. You can leave it blank, or write in Mickey Mouse. But I hope you will choose to vote for me. Like so many of you, I care deeply about our great schools, our students and our community. I would be honored by your trust to work to make them even greater.

John Wallin is a Lake Oswego resident and a candidate for Position 1 on the Lake Oswego School Board.

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