Board appoints two new members | April 24, 2013 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Schools - April 24, 2013

Board appoints two new members

by Renee Batti

An administrator at the private Woodside Priory school and a former high-tech executive have been appointed to the Portola Valley School District board to replace board members who resigned this month.

The two new members are Caitha Calvello Ambler, the Priory dean of middle school who also has taught at the private school and in the Vallejo School District; and Karen Ann Tate, a former executive at two software companies and a former strategic consultant.

The women were among five candidates considered for appointment by the school board at a special April 16 meeting. They replace Scott Parker, who also was a dean at the Priory before resigning to take a position in Sonoma, and Ray Villareal, who cited a busy work-related travel schedule in his April 5 resignation letter.

The new members were appointed by a 3-0 board vote. The three other candidates were Matt Richter, Terry Lee and Richard Murphy.

The terms were due to expire at the end of the year, and if the two new members want to retain their seats, they must stand for election in November.

Ms. Tate and Ms. Ambler took their seats alongside President Jocelyn Swisher and members Bill Youstra and Linda Wong at the board's regular meeting on April 17.

In her application for the post, Ms. Ambler said her interests include innovation in the classroom, project-based learning, collaboration, student-centered learning, the shifting role of teachers, homework balance, meaningful integration of technology, and teaching children how to be responsible citizens, both in person and online.

Referring to the district's recent overspending resulting from former superintendent Tim Hanretty's deceptive bookkeeping, Ms. Ambler noted that prioritizing and raising funds are important board goals, adding that she has been involved in both areas at the Priory.

She has a son in kindergarten at Ormondale.

Ms. Tate has been active in the district as a classroom volunteer, and as a founder and member of the "Innovation in Education" committee, which is "focused on raising awareness and creating deeper understanding of innovations in K-8 education in support of the district's strategic planning effort," according to the district's website.

Among the areas she wants to focus on, according to her application for the board position, she lists strengthening the district's finances, including building back the reserves depleted under Mr. Hanretty's financial oversight; embracing a "culture of experimentation and continual innovation while ensuring we maintain the richness, academic excellence and quality of educational opportunities of our community-based schools; and hiring and/or developing "great leaders and mentors" in the district.

Ms. Tate has a third-grader and a kindergartener at Ormondale.


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