Recently elected directors now leading the SKSD board

Wilson and Pickard elected president and vice president

PORT ORCHARD — South Kitsap School District’s newest board members have taken on leadership positions right off the bat.

At the board of directors’ meeting on Dec. 1, District 4’s Jeffrey Wilson and District 3’s Brian Pickard — both elected Nov. 2 to the school board — found themselves nominated, then voted into the roles of president and vice president, respectively, by their fellow board directors.

Jeffrey Wilson

Jeffrey Wilson

While having rookie board members put into leadership roles is unusual, there’s nothing usual about this board of directors. Eric Gattenby, District 1 director who previously was board president, resigned from the board of directors in October following a spate of disruptive board meetings that featured arguments over procedural issues.

Board director John Berg, who represents District 2 and was previously the board vice president, had been elevated to the interim role of president following Gattenby’s departure.

Both Wilson and Pickard were nominated and elected to their new positions at the Dec. 1 meeting by 4-0 votes.

As candidates for seats on the SKSD board, the two men emphasized their desire to bring a calming purpose to the directorship’s proceedings. Wilson, who is a senior advisor at Boeing, shared with other board members and a virtual audience that his hope is to help redirect the board toward serving the South Kitsap community by investing in students, staff and the educational process at SKSD.

“We are still one community with one South Kitsap School District for everyone,” Wilson said, referring to an often fractious board that over the past year has battled more about processes than in problem-solving.

“I believe we need to invest in our students, our teachers, curriculum and address our long-neglected infrastructure,” he added.

Brian Pickard

Brian Pickard

Pickard, the board’s new vice president, said his experience as a school administrator will give him an advantage in the coming year.

“We really need to listen and understand where everybody’s coming from,” he said. “I believe it’s really critical to our roles in making the best decisions [for the community].”

Wilson said the SKSD board has a responsibility to purposefully conduct discussions that will help members make good decisions for the district. He also said board members need to focus on policy rather than insert themselves into the details of administering that’s best left to Superintendent Tim Winter and his staff.

The board’s first major action later this month will be to fill the vacant seat left by Gattenby’s resignation. To date, three candidates have filed for the District 1 seat: Renee Hernandez Greenfield and Kate Espy have not run for a seat in the past, but a third candidate has, and had served on the board since 2013: former board president Rebecca Diehl. A fitness trainer, Diehl now lives within District 1’s boundaries.

Greenfield is an adjunct professor at Tacoma Community College and director of the college’s early learning center. Espy is a registered nurse at St. Michael Medical Center in Silverdale.

Following interviews that were to have been completed this week, the board of directors will vote to seat a new replacement at the Dec. 15 board meeting.