Monty Anderson said he’s stepping aside so someone can be appointed to finish out the remainder of his term
BATTLE GROUND — The longest-running member of the Battle Ground school board is calling it quits.
Outgoing Superintendent Mark Ross announced the impending resignation of Monty Anderson at Monday’s Board of Directors meeting.
“I didn’t actually plan on running for the board last time around,” Anderson said Tuesday in an interview with Clark County Today. “But because Ken (Root) and Mavis (Nickels) had resigned and we had two new board members, I wanted to run because of the continuity.”
Anderson, who defeated Frederick Striker in 2009 to win his first term on the school board, ran unopposed in 2013 and 2017. He says he resigned, rather than completing his term, to give someone a chance to be named to the position.
“I talked to a bunch of people, and they told me that if I didn’t resign, I probably wouldn’t be able to,” Anderson says. “Nobody would run against me.”
The long-time financial director for Tapani Underground said he ran originally in 2009 at the request of a number of people in the community, after it appeared Striker would once again be unopposed.
“That’s not the American way,” he says, “there should always be an opponent.”
Current vice-president Troy McCoy, whose term also ends after this year, faced a challenger in 2017, but current board President Mark Watrin and District 2 Director Rob Henrikson ran unopposed last November after they were originally selected to replace Root and Nickels.
Jackie Maddox was named to replace Tina Lambert, who stepped down last year, and has not yet announced if she plans to run for the seat outright in November.
A dozen years in any elected position is a long time, but things have rarely been boring in the Battle Ground school district.
In 2013, the district parted ways with Superintendent Shonny Bria who had said she was retiring. It was later learned she had been asked to leave, and a $401,715 settlement agreement left a sour taste in the mouths of taxpayers.
“The first years that I was on the board, we didn’t even have a policy to have a fund balance,” recalls Anderson.
Since then, the district has worked hard to win back the public’s trust, including six straight years of clean financial audits.
“A lot has changed, and I believe it’s for the better,” he says. “People have long memories, but I think that there’s been an increase in trust.”
In 2018, the district weathered one of the longest teacher strikes in its history, and a dispute over Comprehensive Sexual Education curriculum in 2019 became national news and led to a state law making the classes mandatory, though parents can still opt out.
All of that was a precursor to last March, when schools statewide shutdown at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, districts and school boards have faced difficult choices over remote learning programs, and now the slow march towards getting children back into classrooms.
“There have been challenges, and we’ve overcome it,” says Anderson. “And I think that Battle Ground is in a great spot.”
The district will have a new superintendent in July after Mark Ross retires and Deputy Superintendent Denny Waters takes over the top administrative position. Anderson says that kind of continuity in leadership has been shown to benefit students at all grade levels.
For anyone planning to apply to take his spot on the board, Anderson has a bit of advice.
“If you want to do a good job, that takes a lot of time,” he says. “And, as a volunteer position, you got to be ready to put that time in.”
He also discovered that his own personal views sometimes had to take a back seat to what was best for all students in the district, even if that meant angering a few people along the way.
“You can’t just think about your little group,” he says, “you have to think about how your decisions are going to affect everybody.”
One of the best bits of advice he received from someone who urged him to run in 2009 still sticks with Anderson.
“You’re a servant of the public,” he recalls. “And doesn’t mean that you have to go against your convictions, but you have to weigh in, and make sure that it’s going to be right for the public.”
Anderson’s final day on the board will be the Feb. 22 board meeting.