2 vie for Battle Ground schools seat

Priorities: Selecting new superintendent, restoring public's trust

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter



The Battle Ground school board has been scrutinized since it released its $401,715 secret departure agreement with former superintendent Shonny Bria in late June.

Battle Ground School Board

• Term: Four years.

• Number of school board members: Five.

• Number of board positions up for grabs: Three; two candidates are running uncontested.

• What school board members do: The board of directors sets the policies and hires the superintendent, who reports directly to the board.

• Compensation: Board members may receive compensation of up to $50 per day for attending board meetings and for performing other services on behalf of the school district, not to exceed $4,800 per year.

• First order of business: Hiring a new superintendent to replace Shonny Bria, who inked a secret $401,715 buyout agreement from the current school board last spring.

The Nov. 5 general election brings an opportunity for new faces on the school board.

Two board members, President John Idsinga and Steve Pagel, aren't seeking re-election. Incumbent Monty Anderson, current board vice president, is running uncontested in District 1. Candidate Stephanie McClintock is running uncontested in District 5, the position being vacated by Pagel.

The only contested race is in District 3, currently held by Idsinga. Candidates Mitchell Taylor and Jim Pegoraro are facing off for that board seat.

Both candidates believe the new board's first order of business should be hiring the district's next superintendent.

"That decision is going to affect the years to come," said Taylor, who has lived in the district for 17 years.

He said he envisions the new school board, working with the new superintendent, "setting goals, setting up a way to monitor those goals, doing follow up and follow through. The school board is the superintendent's supervisor," he said. "I don't think we'd be in the position we're in now if they (the school board) had supervised, monitored and had follow through."

Taylor has logged countless volunteer hours with the district as the announcer for Battle Ground High School basketball and football games for the past seven or eight years and nine years on the board of the athletic boosters, eight years as president. He's also volunteered as a youth leader and coach.

"I have the foundation and skills needed to hit the ground running," said Taylor, who is a client services manager for a software company. "I've been learning about budgets, collective bargaining, the role of the school board and the principal. I'm willing to put forth the effort and time to help our school district succeed."

Pegoraro, who has lived in the district for more than 50 years, attended Battle Ground schools. So did his wife and five children. Now his grandchild attends a district school.

He emphasized the importance of the school board regaining the community's trust after the brouhaha over Bria's buyout.

"I believe that the board should be more forthright in their decisions and communicate with the community on what is happening and what is transpiring as far as what the board is involved in," Pegoraro said.

"I'd bring a unique perspective in my experience as a purchaser at a multimillion-dollar company to help maintain the fiscal responsibility that is required," he said. "I'm not a politician. I'm just a regular guy who's trying to help here. I would hope I would be the voice they would want to hear. My goal would be to use ethical and fiscal responsibility towards preparing the children for the next step in their lives."

Plagued by challenges

In addition to Bria's buyout agreement, other challenges have plagued the Battle Ground school district recently.

In February, voters failed to approve a four-year $103.4 million maintenance and operations levy. The levy was approved by 56 percent on the second try April 23.

On Oct. 3, the district terminated the contract of Gregg Herrington, director of communications.

The district is being audited by the state auditor's office. After Bria's departure, Duane Rose, the district's interim superintendent, requested both accountability and fiscal responsibility audits. Those audits began at the end of September.

Encompassing 271 square miles, the north county school district is the largest geographically in Clark County. Its more than 13,000 students place the district third in student enrollment in Clark County, trailing Evergreen, with 26,500 students, and Vancouver, with 22,700 students.

photoJim Pegoraro

Jim Pegoraro

• Age: 63.

• Occupation: Equipment parts purchasing manager.

• Campaign funds raised: About $2,000.

• Endorsements: None.

• Website: None.

photoMitchell Taylor

Mitchell Taylor

• Age: 49.

• Occupation: Client services manager for software company.

• Campaign funds raised: $700.

• Endorsements: Battle Ground Education Association.

• Website: www.mitcht4bg.com/

• Facebook: www.facebook.com/MitchTaylorForBgSchoolBoard