Veteran observers of the Portland School Board were stunned last week when all four incumbents whose terms expire in June chose not to file for re-election. None of the four--Debbie Goldberg Menashe, Marc Abrams, Sue Hagmeier and chair Karla Wenzel--faced particularly well-known challengers, and none was viewed as either incompetent or controversial. So why the historic turnover?
"It's really hard to maintain a full-time job," says Hagmeier, a single mother who says she's been under-employed during her eight years on the seven-member volunteer panel.
With the May election drawing near, WW decided to take a look at one measure of commitment to the job--their attendance records at committee meetings and full board meetings.
First-termer Lolenzo Poe ended up at the bottom of the class, a fact he attributes to his daughter's serious injuries sustained in a car accident in Las Vegas and to his own back surgery over the winter. "I make no apologies for those two things," he says.
Now that the doctor has cleared him to return to work, he expects his attendance record to rise.
Hagmeier posted the best attendance record but cautions against making too much of it. She says the real work happens between meetings, when board members must get up to speed on the issues and meet with parents, teachers and administrators. "If the meetings were the primary impact of serving on the board," she says, "it would be easy."
Taking Attendance Committee Meetings Board Meetings Grade
Marc Abrams 86% 92% B+ Julia Brim-Edwards 87% 96% A- Sue Hagmeier 94% 100% A Derry Jackson 73% 92% B- Debbie Menashe 72% 92% B- Lolenzo Poe 30% 73% D* Karla Wenzel N/A 88% B+
Source: Portland School Board