A bickering school board
September 28, 2023
by Karen Bertroch
When the NGRV School Board met on September 19, there was a good-sized audience with comments and questions. They were, for the most part, respectful. On the other hand, board member Tyson Vogeler continues to challenge most items on the agenda and how the meeting is run. His actions set a tone for everyone in the room to do the same, which is unfortunate. To my knowledge, no one on the board is embezzling money. Nor is the board intentionally ignoring state law involving board procedures. As the “newspaper lady” attending all the meetings, I’ve been disheartened to hear the ongoing complaints from one board member about the board’s work.
Bob Torppa, who spoke from the audience, has 10 years of experience serving at various times on the board. He commented: “I’ve been here 25 minutes and listened to this bickering without one word being said about kids.” He was right. The meetings have become ensnared with either words showing lack of respect or silence. Neither is helpful. It makes those of us listening wonder, “Why do you meet at all?”
At the meeting, Board member Amy Chadwick unfortunately resigned. She has family reasons to do so and she is commended for the fine work she has done. This leaves another open spot on the board because someone will need to be appointed to fill her position. Torppa will be sworn in at the December meeting to fill Tyson Vogeler’s seat since Tyson chose not to run again. No one is running against him on the ballet. With Amy’s position now empty, and with either Aris Campbell remaining on the board or Luke Gardner being elected to fill his seat, there could be three new members in the next few months. It’s time for everyone to ask, “What kind of board do we want next?” And who would be a good board member to fill Amy Chadwick’s term?
Education in our little district is very important. School is about little ones in first grade who were so excited to catch the bus, meet their new teachers, and watch the big seniors go by. The job of board members is to make sure there is enough money for operating, for emergencies, to make sure teachers are qualified, contracts are appropriate, and that students are safe, and that teachers have the materials they need.
Residents of Naselle/Grays River must remember how important our votes are in this coming school board election. We need folks on the board who keep their eyes on the ball, not the bat, and behave with good manners and a sense of pride about both the board and the school. They ought to act with the values and manners that we hope our children will learn.
It’s a small, beautiful school. Zoom into the meetings. The district’s web site is a source of full disclosure before meetings. And please vote.