Candidates ready to serve

By Kelly Black / For The Observer May 09, 2013 07:46 am

Phillip O’Reilly, Lori Baird and Kathryn Kirby are running for Position 3 on the Union School Board. 

Kirby served for 18 years on the Union School Board before being narrowly defeated two years ago during a bid for re-election. 

“I liked being on the school board,” Kirby said. “I found it an interesting challenge.”

Kirby works as a registered nurse at Grande Ronde Hospital. 

“I believe in small schools,” Kirby said. “Your child or grandchild is known and their personal needs are better addressed in a small school.”

If elected, Kirby said she will work to put stable leadership back in place.

“The right leadership is critical with funding being so uncertain,” she said.

When Kirby attended school, electives were plentiful. Although she does not prefer the current cuts that Oregon schools are facing, she believes that Union schools can still offer a successful education with less money.

Baird has spent the last three years on the School Board Budget Committee learning the ropes and getting to know people on the board and school staff. While she appreciates the sense of history that some on the board bring from their years of experience, she hopes to bring new ideas and energy.

“I think we’ve been through some tough years,” said Baird. “I’ve been a part of the school for a long time.”

The Union School District has seen major financial problems in recent years but Interim Superintendent Mike Wood believes the 2013-14 budget can be balanced without making any major cuts.

Baird feels hopeful for the future.

“I want to support the school staff to achieve their potential as teachers, administrators and staff,” Baird said.

If elected, Baird is eager to assist the search process in locating a new top administrator for the district. 

O’Reilly and his wife, Laura, were initially attracted to Union schools because of their reputation for a quality education in a small-town environment. Although recent financial struggles have undermined the quality of education, O’Reilly believes there is an opportunity to change focus.

“I want to help the district take advantage of these opportunities and regain the reputation that originally attracted me to the community,” he said.