The Peninsula School District Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve Dr. Harlan Gallinger as their newest member on the board Thursday night.
Gallinger, along with fellow Gig Harbor residents Jessica Sawyer, Steve Sutton and Carrie Tellefson, were the four finalists for the Position 4 seat.
Each candidate was asked the same six questions by the four board members and evaluated on their background, involvement with the schools and skills.
Gallinger, who graduated from Sumner High School, now works as an emergency physician. He received his medical degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Gallinger said one of the challenges facing the district this year is to improve its teacher-engagement in the community.
“I know there was a lot of lingering personal issues that need to be resolved this year. I think how that’s done is going to be really important for how it sets the district up for the teacher-engagement for the community.”
He also said establishing fair contracts for teachers and staff will be a challenge, regardless of the state of the economy.
Over the next 3 years, Gallinger said maintaining a strong relationship with the community will be important for the district to pass a capital bond issue.
“I think there are many facilities within the district that need a lot of attention,” he said.
He also addressed the gap in the socio-economic diversity in Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula.
“We have a large section of community members who can choose other alternatives outside of the schools…it’s hard to hear those discussions and watch my peer group make the switch outside of the public education system of this school district,” he said.
Gallinger, who has a teaching background with Teach for America, said he's passionate about education.
“As a school board, I think it’s really important to work with the leaders of our schools, as well as the educators, to know that we’re right there with them supporting them," he said. “There’s one thing that we can do as a community, as a school district, as a country, is to give all of our students an opportunity to succeed. And I know that’s the goal in this district.”
Gallinger will be sworn in at the next regular school board meeting on Dec. 6. He will serve a 3-year term, which expires in 2015.
The seat was vacated after Board President Jill Uddenberg announced her resignation in September.
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