Incumbent Portland Public Schools board member Greg Belisle announced this weekend he is not running for re-election.
The current Zone 7 representative on the panel, Belisle’s move opens up the race for anyone from Lents or surrounding neighborhoods.
Board co-chair for two terms since first winning a seat in 2011, Belisle has worked in nonprofit management as well as education. He currently works with the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) program, is a member of his children’s PTA as well as AFSCME Local 88.
Belisle on Saturday released this memo on his decision not to run:
Dear Portland Public Schools community,
I have decided not to run again for the Portland School Board. It has been my great honor and privilege to serve our community these past four years. I have chosen not to run so I can spend more time with my family.
Portland Public Schools is a district on the rise. With consistently rising graduation rates, a narrowing of academic racial disparities on multiple measures, four years of successful capital projects, and responsible financial reserves, the district is in the strongest position it has been in decades. These successes have been a result of a priority focus on students, difficult decisions, strong voter support, and extraordinary leadership of Superintendent Smith who has led the district under the most challenging circumstances.
This progress and momentum makes my decision not to run again especially difficult. The challenges and pressures continue to increase in public education and it is hard to find people committed to all student to serve in this volunteer capacity. This election will be pivotal in whether we continue to make progress or the progress reverses.
I have been clear throughout my service that the most significant challenge facing education in Oregon is funding. If we are to see marked improvements, we will not only need a significant increase in investment by the legislature, but the revenue and expense structure in the state must be fundamentally changed. Even in the best of financial times, the current structure's volatility will undermine any investment or progress.Oregon has a history of bold leadership and action. I encourage us to gather our hopes, overcome our fears, and act boldly to write a different story for this generation of students and those to come.
It is an exciting time for Portland Public Schools. The district is growing with parents confidently sending their kids to Portland Public Schools. Student achievement is improving. And our community will be proud of the facility upgrades and modernizations voters approved as part of the 2012 capital bond program. It will be a significant community accomplishment when we approve the second capital bond in 2016 and reaffirm our commitment to the 32 year plan to rebuild or modernize all our schools.
Thank you for your support, encouragement and engagement over my four year term. I ask you stay engaged and continue to support the district in the multitude of ways our community has historically. For while we have made progress, there is still a great deal of work to be done.