Board Games

New city school-board president, once a critic of the status quo, launches an investigation of two reformers

As for the charges of vengeance, Brewster expresses bafflement that anyone would believe he wants to get even with Hilgemann and Moore for not voting for him in June. If Haas, Moore and Hilgemann had voted for Brewster in June as they did in July, Brewster asks, "What else would be different? I'd be president. I am president. And they did vote for me. So how could there be controversy?

"When I showed up at the July meeting, I had no idea what would happen," he says. "It was a blessing and a surprise. I had no idea how people would vote."

Moore and Hilgemann aren't buying that bill of goods. For Purdy, who ran against him in June, to nominate Brewster, and for Hammonds, a previous Brewster target, to speak well of him -- well, something went down.

Haas, who doesn't always agree with Hilgemann and Moore, still thinks they ought to be given a chance to express their views. He says a "board war" would prove a distraction from the district's real problems and notes that Brewster is off to a "rocky start."

"For four years, he wasn't afraid to stand up to the administration, and now he shuts people out, the same way he hated being shut out," Haas says. "He does better from the end of the table. It's a different dynamic from the head of the table. We need to give him a fair chance to grow into a president who makes the board feel included and looks for common ground, a president who has the independence to vote where he thinks wisdom is, instead of just with the other three and whatever the administration wants."

Brewster admits that his role has changed.

"The roles are completely different, by definition of the role. When you move into the governance position of any board, you're restricted, as far as debate is concerned, and you become a facilitator. It's a different role," he says. "My views haven't changed on anything. My approach has changed because of the position that I hold."

Still, those wanting an urgent approach to change regret that Brewster's being president thus far doesn't seem much different than Marlene Davis' being president. From the looks of it, questions about whether Hammonds should continue being superintendent, fundamentally new approaches to budgeting and an effort "to think outside the box" for solutions have been tabled.

But the obstacles put in the path of Hilgemann and Moore don't appear to have them discouraged.

"Heck no," Hilgemann says. "This is fuel. It'll make us fight harder."

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