Susie Jones, member of MHCC District board of education for four years and its chairwoman for the last two, will step aside this spring.
But her service on behalf of education may not be finished.
Jones has filed to run for office in the May 17 election, but not at Mt. Hood: She has moved out of the Zone 1 territory in Mt. Hood’s large service district, and so is ineligible for re-election.
Instead, she is seeking a seat on the Multnomah Education Service District (MESD), which helps coordinate operations of K-12 public school districts across Multnomah County. She will run for the Position 1, Zone 5 seat against Abigail Howatt.
Jones noted the similarities between Mt. Hood, and the MESD.
The MESD “has a very large budget just like this college does, so that function will be the same.,” she said. Among other things, the MESD offers numerous services, including “health care services, support for Special Education, (and) they coordinate outdoor school,” she said. The agency helps school districts pool their resources to improve their efficiency or get “things that they couldn’t normally afford on their own,” she said.
Jones, a former Jazz Band instructor at Mt. Hood and longtime East County resident, discussed her time on the MHCC District board.
Her time with the board oversaw a significant reshuffling of the college’s organization and governing structure. “I had a lot of good insight into what the college was all about, and I felt that that experience would benefit the board,” she said. “I felt the board needed someone from the inside at that time (2013)” when she ran for office, she said.
Upon winning, learning the duties of the board director’s position was no cakewalk, she said.
“It took a while for me to learn all of the operations and functions of the college…it was a learning experience. Though I did know a lot about the college to begin with, there was still more I needed to learn,” she said. “It was really two years before I realized big-picture what things needed to happen at the college.”
Asked what she felt the board’s biggest accomplishments in her time were, Jones said, “Well, we haven’t achieved them yet.
“One of them is the bond,” (MHCC’s proposed general obligation bond, also on the May ballot), she said. “The bond is extremely important for the success of this college; it’s critically important.
“The other (accomplishment) that looks like it’s going to happen is a restructuring of the board policy manual, and moving to a Carver policy governance system,” she said. That change – shifting board policy responsibility to subcommittees allowed to more fully examine complex issues or problems – has not yet been approved by the board, but it seems to have gained the support of board members, she said.
“It looks like it’s going to happen. With a new governing system we would be moving toward outcome-based policies where we actually define the success of the institution and therefore set the direction of the college,” Jones said.
(A more full description of Carver’s policy governance model may be found at http://www.policygovernance.com/model.htm.)
Meantime, two candidates have filed to run for Jones’s board position at Mt. Hood.
They are Diane McKeel, a recently retired member of the Multnomah County Commission, and Jack Kondrasuk, a consultant whose credentials include assistant to the president duties at the University of Portland and director of that school’s academic internship program.
Staff Writer Greg Leonov also contributed reporting for this story.