Nancy Young Wright was elected president of the Amphitheater Public Schools governing board Jan. 14 in a 3-2 vote highlighting a division brought about earlier in the week when boardmember Mike Prout questioned her ability to lead. Boardmember Kent Barrabee was elected to the vice-president/clerk position, also in a split vote.
Newly elected boardmembers Jeff Grant and Patricia Clymer were sworn in by their respective spouses before officers were elected. When the vote for president was held, Grant voted for Prout - who nominated and voted for himself -- and Clymer joined Barrabee and Young Wright in voting for Young Wright.
Doug Reed, who had an unsuccessful run for the board in November, addressed the board before elections were held, bringing to the fore the issue of e-mails that circulated last week concerning Prout's assertion that he would be the best choice for president because he did not have conflicts with developers as he insisted Young Wright did in her role as an Oro Valley activist.
"I was a little concerned after reading some of the reasons various boardmembers wanted to be president and also some e-mails I received through the district that, perhaps there was a little bit of contention over the election of the role of president," Reed said during the open call to the audience. "However, as a parent, I'm more concerned with the liaison with the town of Oro Valley. I know that role isn't really defined yet, but it concerns me in light of the growth in the community, building, funding, funding from builders, the possibility of building a new school - those are important issues as I see it. If there is some contention among the board members, I think it would be prudent not to have either of those people in the role of the Oro Valley liaison… I also don't think… A rookie member of the board would not probably be fit to be in the role of the liaison either. So as the children say on the playground and apologies to Kent Barrabee, but 'Tag, you're it.' If there is any (contention among boardmembers) there needs to be trust in that role as it develops… so I certainly hope when you vote for president you vote for who you can best… act in the role as president but don't have the role of president the same as Oro Valley liaison and have (the liaison) be someone who has the trust of everyone up (on the board dais)."
After explaining that nominations for officers do not require a second and receiving the nomination, Young Wright - who was elected at the December board meeting to be acting president for the Jan. 14 meeting - called for a vote. Following some wrangling with Roberts Rules of Order, the board ended up with both Prout and Young Wright nominated for president. Prout's vote was first, and he failed to get a majority. Young Wright then won 3-2.
Clymer then nominated Barrabee for vice president and he won with three votes in favor and Grant and Prout abstaining.
Young Wright invited all boardmembers to give a brief statement of their goals and Barrabee took the opportunity to encourage his colleagues to bind together.
"I think we're very fortunate that we have such outstanding people here on the board," Barrabee said. "We developed an extraordinary rapport together and spirit and I very much hope and expect that that will continue because it is what makes the work satisfying. We have such frustrations that we have to deal with that if we can't pull together and fix these things in a positive spirit, it just is going to be horrendous… Here's to the team."
Clymer said her goals were to serve the students, to get more volunteers in the classroom in the district's southern schools and to follow the Marana Unified School District's model in establishing a team approach for lobbying the Legislature. Grant said he wants to make the "most enlightened objective decisions regardless of my personal feelings."
After welcoming the two new boardmembers, Prout offered an olive branch by congratulating Young Wright on her election as president.
"Previous discussions notwithstanding," he said, "I want to commit to you all that we will work together as I see it to the best advantage of the district. We've got five good people up here. The district is transitioning from one set of good hands to another set of good hands."
Before officer elections were held, Young Wright passed out 18 pages of supplemental materials to boardmembers countering Prout's original contentions in his governing board leadership statement concerning growth in the Northwest and Young Wright's leadership potential. Boardmembers did not have a chance to read the materials before officer elections were held.
The materials included copies of the preliminary community survey responses to the Oro Valley General plan, articles quoting various state legislators as saying the School Facilities Board is going to be revamped in the next two years, an Arizona Republic editorial arguing for the revival of school bonding for school construction and a three-page personal response from Young Wright to Prout's statement.
After the meeting, Prout said he felt "fine" after the election and that it was a fair vote.
"I have no problem with it," he said, adding that at the next board meeting issues of growth will be discussed.
"Donations, the new school, whether we should be pro-growth or growth-neutral or anti-growth and how we'll deal with issues of growth - it all has to be dealt with," he explained.
Amphi Education Association President John Lewandowski said he was "really excited" that Young Wright was elected board president.
"Personally, for the first time in a long while, I'm really looking forward to working with this board," Lewandowski said. "A lot of it because of Nancy and, at the same time because of both new board members."
In other business the board:
Heard a 60-minute presentation by district counsel Todd Jaeger on issues related to school discipline to familiarize new boardmembers with legal requirements districts must follow.
Approved an out-of-state travel request for the Canyon del Oro High School concert and jazz bands. Director Darrell Prochaska is taking 80 students to San Diego for two days in February to perform with the U.S. Marine Corps Band at Camp Pendleton. The estimated cost of the trip is $26,000, which will be paid for by tax-credit dollars and fund-raising.
Welcomed newly-appointed administrators Patrick Nelson, associate superintendent for school operations; Diana Walker, 2003-2004 Copper Creek Elementary School principal; Marie Dorie, special education coordinator; and Sandra Beck, director of health services.
Approved the Nash Elementary School Improvement Plan as required by State Title 1 guidelines.