About Dirk Iwata-Reuyl
CSD School Board Candidate
My wife Gayla and I moved to Oregon in 1994 when I accepted a faculty position in the Department of Chemistry at Portland State University. After years of living a gypsy’s life as we moved from one region of the country to another for college, graduate school, and post-graduate work, we were happy to be able to finally think about planting roots. Although we enjoyed living in Portland and it was convenient for our work (Gayla is a clinical speech pathologist and was working at OHSU), we both longed to live in a rural area where we could stretch our legs and see the stars (at least when they weren’t obscured by clouds…). When our daughter Hana was born in 1999 we began to think seriously of leaving the city. Because we were drawn to the beauty of the gorge and had spent considerable time hiking and exploring in the region, settling in Corbett was a natural choice for us, and after a long search we finally made the move in 2003. What sealed our decision to choose Corbett was the quality of the schools; the curriculum was strong and we were especially impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment shown by the teachers. Our daughter Hana began first grade here in 2005, and is currently in the middle school; our son Beckett, who was born in 2005, is now in kindergarten. Both have had tremendous experiences in the Corbett Schools, and are flourishing here. As we look to the future we hope to see the Corbett Schools continue to offer the children in the community the educational experiences that our children are fortunate enough to be receiving, and to be the schools that people move to, not move away from.
Why are you running for the CSD school board?
The Corbett School District is currently facing formidable challenges, which, if not effectively met, threaten to undermine the quality of the education that our children receive. I am running for a seat on the board because I want to ensure that in the coming months and years these challenges are confronted in a rational, thoughtful, and deliberate manner, with decisions made and policies enacted that enable the CSD to provide an educational experience that is second to none; our children deserve nothing less.
What do you feel are the challenges facing the CSD and school board today and what would you like to see happen to address them?
While there are numerous challenges facing the CSD, most are the consequence of 2 overarching issues; funding and community relations. The first, of course, is not unique to the CSD; school districts around the state are struggling with dwindling state support while the costs of operating schools continue to increase. The financial strain induced by insufficient state funding spawns additional challenges as the district is forced to seek out new sources of revenue and/or implement cuts in personnel and programming. The financial challenges facing the district will likely be with us for some time, and how we choose to meet them will impact our children’s education for years to come.
The second issue is also not unique to the CSD, however most districts with strained relationships in the community struggle with underperforming schools (the typical target of community criticism). Corbett is in the unusual position of having schools that, by most objective measures, are performing at exceedingly high levels, yet are viewed by some with distrust and suspicion. That some in the community feel disenfranchised by their schools should never be viewed as an acceptable situation; it is not. The board, and the district, must be responsive to parents, and be willing to engage the community in dialog that is both inclusive and respectful of the plurality of views in the district; everyone should feel welcome at the table.
Meeting the daunting financial challenges facing our schools requires a community that is united behind its schools. By carrying out the business of the board and district in an open and transparent manner, and by listening honestly to the myriad viewpoints held by stakeholders, I hope to see the board gain the trust of all members of the community. While it is impossible for the board and the district to enact policy that is embraced by everyone, when it is recognized that the decisions being made are based on careful and open deliberations, and not perceived to be the product of secretive or exclusionary meetings, we can come together and move forward to meet the challenges facing us.
What impact do you hope to have on the board/What new ideas might you bring to the position?
I hope to move the board to more open and transparent practices; this includes better communication about upcoming issues being addressed by the board, providing longer periods for discussion and consideration of issues that involve significant structural changes in the schools, and holding informal information sessions where important issues facing the schools can be explored free from the constraints of board meeting protocol. These changes will better position the board to effectively address the challenges facing the district.
What are the strengths you have to bring to this position?
A good school board member is one who is a clear and independent thinker, who listens well, asks reasoned questions, understands the boards role in district accountability, is an effective problem solver, and exercises fairness in implementing solutions to problems that impact the education and lives of the districts children. These are the qualities that I will bring to the board.
Each candidate has been invited to participate and share their personal statements and answers to five questions. If you would like to see the list of candidates invited to participate and that are running for the CSD schoool board, please select here.