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Welches Gets a Voice On School Board

By Ty Walker

Welches Gets a Voice On School Board

When word was put out that the Oregon Trail School District was looking for someone to fill a vacancy on the school board, Paula Siverly seized the opportunity. She wanted to make sure the Zone-3 seat, which represents Welches, went to someone who lived in the small Mt. Hood community.

If no one from the local community was interested in the volunteer position, anyone from outside the community would be welcome to apply, Siverly said. Siverly did not want to see that happen.

“I was absolutely not OK with our little community not having its own representation from someone that lives on the mountain, that understands the mountain, that is connected to the mountain. So here I am.”
The Oregon Trail School District appointed Siverly in November last year to complete the term of retired school board member Kurt McKnight, which runs through June 2025. McKnight resigned at the end of the 2023 school year, after serving the district well during his 15-year tenure.

He said the Welches community is in good hands with Siverly as its representative on the school board.
“Paula is a wonderful person, extremely engaged in the community,” McKnight said. “I can’t think of a better person to fill that role.”

A resident of the tight-knit Mt. Hood community since 1999, Siverly is the branch manager of the Possibility Squad, powered by Advantage Mortgage, a local hometown mortgage broker. She has been very involved in the school district, seeing her son go through Oregon Trail schools from kindergarten through his high school graduation.

She has served on the Oregon Trail School District Budget Committee, Superintendent Leadership Council, Value Oregon Trail Education and the Welches Parent Teacher Community Organization board.
“It’s an honor to serve,” Siverly said. “I look forward to serving and listening and hearing from families in the community.”

She said she will be a strong voice for Welches, advocating for the K-8th grade school to see that it “continues to get support and our students and community can be successful.”

Meanwhile, McKnight, after transitioning for several years, has made Hawaii his full-time home. But he said he still owns and maintains a residence in Welches. He sold majority ownership of his Everfresh Fruit Co. last year.

During his time on the school board, he saw the Oregon Trail School District’s graduation rate improve significantly. The declining student dropout rate was another improvement. He pushed for passage of the bond measure that paid for the new Sandy High School and made improvements at other schools.
McKnight said he will miss the community and the kids. But he still has grandchildren living locally who will go through the system.

“Attending graduation is always a high point, handing out diplomas,” he said. “Welches is a small community, so you get to know the families. Watching the students turn into young adults? That’s a rewarding feeling to witness that.”

“I’m very excited for Paula. She’s a wonderful person who will serve the community well,” McKnight added about his successor.

Asked what she wants to accomplish on the school board, Siverly said, “I want to be a voice for our community, be accessible to hear my neighbors’ concerns and support educational opportunities for our students. I’m here for the kids.”

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