Bethany Freudenthal

As his first order of business Wednesday, new La Grande School District Superintendent George Mendoza swore into office the board’s two newest members, Michelle Perry and Randy Shaw, who were elected in May.

Long-time board member Merle Comfort will retain his position as head of the board for one more year, while Joe Justice will continue on as vice chairman. With both men’s seats up for grabs during the next election cycle, Justice suggested the board keep that in mind for next year.

“Merle and I are on the same election cycle, so next year we should probably be thinking of someone who's on an opposite election cycle because obviously it’s an election and the two of us may not be around,” Justice said.

Because this will be his fourth consecutive year as chairman of the board, Comfort will not be eligible for the chairman position next year, according to the board’s bylaws, but he can serve as vice chair, something Comfort didn’t recommend.

“We just need to make sure that we have someone in the vice chair position next year that can have some continuity in the future,” Comfort said.

With Mendoza beginning his new position as superintendent, Comfort said he thought it was important for continuity, that he and Justice remain in their current positions.

For the complete story, see the July 14 edition of The Observer.