Camas School Board appoints Matthew McBride to fill vacant District 2 seat

Robotics volunteer appointed to school board seat formerly held by Erika Cox

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Matthew McBride

Camas School Board officials have appointed Camas resident Matthew McBride to the Board’s District 2 position formerly held by Erika Cox, who announced her early departure from the school board in May.

McBride was sworn in to his new position during the school board’s regular meeting held Monday, July 24.

“We are thrilled to welcome Matthew McBride to the Camas School Board,” Board President Corey McEnry stated in a news release announcing the appointment. “Matthew was selected from a very competitive and qualified pool of applicants for his extensive leadership experience, record of service to his community, and data-driven approach to complex problems. His commitment to educational equity and fostering a culture of collaboration aligns perfectly with our goals to see, value, and serve each student of the Camas School District. We look forward to his contributions to enhancing the quality of education for all students in our district.”

McEnry, along with Camas School Board members Connie Hennessey, Tracey Malone and Bamini Pathmanathan, interviewed five Board applicants, including McBride, during a special meeting held Monday, July 17.

The applicants answered the Board’s questions about their backgrounds and skills, thoughts on equity and how they might balance the community’s priorities — as well as their own priorities and interests — with the district’s goal of “seeing and serving” each and every student.

The applicants included an architect, former lawyer, school library employee, chief executive officer and McBride, a trained scientist and manager who has held volunteer positions with the Camas Robotics Booster Club, the Camas School District Citizens Advisory Committee and the Clark County Mosquito Control District.

In a new release announcing the appointment, school district leaders said, “McBride brings a wealth of experience to the board, including his current role as director of an international consulting service. His leadership, strategy, and innovation background positions him well to address the challenges and opportunities within the Camas School District.”

Cox, who was appointed to the school board in 2018, and elected to the District 2 seat in 2021, told The Post-Record in May that “it’s been an amazing six years,” but that she was ready for a change now that all of her children have graduated from Camas schools.

Having gone through budget cuts, a search for the district’s new superintendent, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the district’s first teachers’ strike, Cox said she felt she was leaving at a good time — and that she had overwhelming confidence in the remaining school board members.

“I wanted to leave at a good time, not because of someone or something. There’s no drama. It’s been a very full six years of serving, and this felt like a good time, a good moment for a transition,” Cox said. “Through the Board’s dedication and guidance, the students and families of the Camas School District are being led by trustworthy, transparent, and professional volunteers that continue to put students first with every decision made.”

McEnry wished Cox well during the July 17 special meeting.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done over the past six years for the students, community and district,” McEnry said to Cox. “We’re going to miss you.”

The Board members deliberated for nearly one hour after interviewing the five applicants, and said their decision had not been an easy one.

“This was the toughest decision,” Hennessey said before casting her vote for McBride. “We have never had such a qualified group of candidates. We were splitting hairs.”

Pathmanathan and McEnry also voted for McBride, while Malone cast her vote for Dena Strong, a Camas High graduate, mother of three current Camas students and CEO of a nonprofit organization.

“As Board president, I echo Connie,” McEnry said before voting for McBride. “It has been quite the process here — in a very good way. Thank you to all the candidates for stepping up to serve the community.”

During his interview with the Board, McBride said he and his wife have lived in Camas for 22 years and have raised four children in Camas.

A scientist with degrees in molecular biology and plant pathology who now manages a team of scientists, McBride said he believes his professional skills will help him as a Camas School Board member.

“I am an analytical thinker,” McBride said, “a data-driven person by nature.”

He added that he is “passionate about education and about families in (the Camas) community.”

“I didn’t take it lightly when (Cox) said she was stepping down,” McBride said. “I respect the work all of you do. I have been called to service probably since I was a teenager … And this feels like a natural, next fit for me.”

Asked what he believed to be the most important responsibilities of the school board, McBride said his top five would be setting the district’s vision, strategy and goals and communicating those ideals to the district’s employees, students, families and community; addressing new policies and evaluating existing policies; hiring and evaluating the district’s superintendent; overseeing the budget; and communicating with the overall Camas community.

“I believe in the power of education and its ability to transform lives,” McBride stated in his application to the Board. “I recognize that serving as a school board member is a commitment to serve the entire community, ensuring every child has access to quality education.”