Kent School Board members from left to right: Joe Bento, Awale Farah, Tim Clark, Meghin Margel, Leslie Hamada and Superintendent Israel Vela. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Kent School Board members from left to right: Joe Bento, Awale Farah, Tim Clark, Meghin Margel, Leslie Hamada and Superintendent Israel Vela. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Kent School Board chooses Tim Clark as president for 2023

Clark will replace Leslie Hamada; Awale Farah elected as vice president

Tim Clark will be the Kent School Board president in 2023.

Fellow board members elected Clark president with a 4-1 vote at their Dec. 14 meeting. The board elects officers each year.

Awale Farah nominated Clark. Farah, Clark, Leslie Hamada and Meghin Margel voted for Clark. Joe Bento abstained from voting.

The board elected Farah, nominated by Clark, as vice president with a 4-1 vote. Bento voted for himself. The board also voted 4-1 to elect Hamada, nominated by Farah, as its legislative representative. Bento again abstained.

Bento did not comment during the meeting about why he abstained. He has not replied to a Kent Reporter email for comment about why he abstained.

In 2022, Hamada served as president, Bento as vice president and Farah as legislative representative.

Voters elected Clark to the board in November 2021. He previously served on the board for four years after voters elected him in 2009. Prior to that, he served 16 years on the Kent City Council.

“My wife wishes to register her objection,” Clark joked at the meeting after his election.

Clark, a retired Kentridge High School teacher, said he looks forward to 2023.

“It’s been a pleasure working with this board,” Clark said. “We’ve certainly had our challenges this year. This is our first year with Israel Vela as superintendent and I think we are seeing tremendous progress and bringing stability to the organization and I’m looking forward to building on that for next year.”

The board voted 3-2 in April 2022 to hire Vela as superintendent. Clark, Farah and Hamada voted to hire Vela. Bento and then-board member Michele Bettinger voted against the hiring. Bettinger and Bento each said they wanted to continue to search for a stronger candidate.

In June 2022, the board approved a three-year contract with Vela, including a base salary of $355,000 per year, a $75,500 increase from the previous superintendent who made $279,500 per year.

The board appointed Vela as interim superintendent in August 2021. He replaced Calvin Watts who left the Kent superintendent job in July 2021 to return to Georgia to become superintendent of the Gwinnett County Public Schools.

As president, Clark will lead the board meetings and serve as the spokesperson for the board.

One of the major challenges for 2023 will be getting voter approval in April of a $495 million bond to upgrade schools. New boundary changes begin in the fall and sixth graders move to middle schools from elementary schools.

The four-year terms of Clark and Farah expire in November 2025. The terms of Hamada, Bento and Margel expired in November 2023.

Voters elected Hamada in 2019 to a four-year term. The board appointed Bento in February 2021 to replace Leah Bowen, who resigned in December 2020 after one year on the board. Voters elected Bento, who ran unopposed, in November 2021 to complete Bowen’s four-year term.

The board appointed Margel in September 2022 to replace Bettinger, who resigned in June 2022. That term expires in November 2023.

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