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Anderson picked to fill South Whidbey school board seat

Leigh Anderson signs her first set of documents as a member of the South Whidbey School District board on Wednesday night. - Roy Jacobson / The Record
Leigh Anderson signs her first set of documents as a member of the South Whidbey School District board on Wednesday night.
— image credit: Roy Jacobson / The Record

LANGLEY — Leigh Anderson, a Freeland business consultant and longtime education advocate, is the newest member of the South Whidbey School District board.

She was selected from among six candidates after interviews Wednesday, and was sworn in at the board's meeting Wednesday night at the Intermediate School in Langley.

"We had six outstanding candidates," said board chairman Fred O'Neal. "We could have picked a whole new school board."

Anderson, 51, fills the vacancy left by Bob Riggs, a nine-year board member who resigned recently to concentrate on his special-effects work for the film industry.

"I'm really excited," Anderson said as she took her seat with the other members. "You guys are doing a great job."

"We have an outstanding new board member," O'Neal said. "She's the best fit for right now."

Anderson takes over Riggs's at-large position, which runs until November 2009. She then will have the option of running for a full six-year term.

Anderson is a consultant with Integrated Solutions, which specializes in community and economic development. She has been a certified public accountant for 20 years.

A graduate of Connecticut College with a degree in Russian and eastern European languages, she recently completed at the top of her class a master's degree in business administration from Seattle University.

Anderson was a member of the recent school district long-range facilities committee, which concentrated on combining and downsizing resources to compensate for an anticipated decline in the student population.

She has two daughters in district schools, one in 10th grade, one in sixth grade, and has been a classroom volunteer for nine years.

"Being on the school board has been a long-term goal of mine," Anderson said, "but I didn't have the time. When a saw the notice, I thought, there's my chance."

"I believe that public education is the bedrock of democracy and the bedrock of a rural community," she added. "It's important to bring the two together."

The other candidates interviewed were Robin Doucette, a volunteer with the Whidbey Island Dance Theatre; Dorothy Ferguson, a retired school counselor; businesswoman Kris Barker; retired businessman and former board member John Carty of Langley; and Kevin Engstrom, a mortgage broker from Clinton.

Board members O'Neal, Rich Parker, Helen Price Johnson and Steven Scoles made the selection.

O'Neal said the choice was difficult; the first vote ended 2-2.

"The last time around we had two vacancies and no candidates," O'Neal said. "We went from that to this."

Another slot on the school board may open this winter if Price Johnson is elected to the Island County board of commissioners.

The South Whidbey School District has 1,767 students in six schools, and an annual operating budget of $17.6 million.

Roy Jacobson can be reached at 221-5300 or rjacobson@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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