By Bill Coate
The Madera Tribune
Observers of school board politics got a surprise last week when Madera Unified School District trustees voted to give the president’s gavel to Ray Seibert, the board’s most senior member in terms of years of service. The new president has held a seat on the MUSD board for 26 years. He has also been president several times during his tenure.
Seibert replaces trustee Ed McIntyre who moved into the president’s chair six months ago to take over from Al Galvez, who resigned from the board due to his decision to help with serious family health problems.
It was with a broad smile that McIntyre handed the gavel over to Seibert and then took another seat on the dais. Speculation is that McIntyre declined the president’s chair for 2018, preferring to join the rank and file trustees, which allows him more freedom to take part in the board’s discussions.
Unidentified sources have indicated that board meetings will likely run a bit longer if McIntyre runs true to form and takes on the role of grand inquisitor. The outgoing president is known for his firm grasp of the issues and an insatiable appetite for delving into the complexities of school business.
At the same time, Seibert’s election as board president, with his years of experience, brings the prospect of continuity of collaboration that has characterized the board for the past two years.
Joining the board at its December organizational meeting was Joetta Flores Fleak who defeated incumbent Philip Huerta for the Area 4 seat. She, along with McIntyre and trustee Brent Fernandes, who both ran opposed for reelection, took the oath of office administered by Superintendent Todd Lile.
All the while, Steve Duncan and Lucy Salazar, candidates vying to replace Galvez in representing MUSD’s Area 5, looked on from the audience. Their contest has not been decided due to an unresolved problem in the Nov. 6 election for Area 5.
Trustee Ruben Mendoza was elected as clerk of the Board.