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Unalaska School Board Looks To Fill Seat E Vacancy

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Last Wednesday, school board president Fernando Barrera resigned from Unalaska's school board, leaving a vacancy on the five-person board that some fear could be hard to fill. 

After nearly 10 years serving on the school board, Barrera, who is also the facilities maintenance supervisor at UniSea where he has worked for roughly 25 years, resigned school board seat E. 

Barrera said he will stick around Unalaska, but feels that he no longer has enough time to fulfill his role as a board member.

"I have greatly enjoyed the cooperative experience of serving on the school board and am thankful for your help and kindness along the way," Barrera said in his resignation letter to the board. "I am honored to have worked in the capacity of assisting in improving UCSD and its functions for our children and am grateful for your understanding. I look forward to hearing about the continued successes of the Unalaska City School District."

Barrera's seat officially becomes vacant on July 31. His colleagues will appoint his replacement at their August meeting. 

At their meeting last week, some board members expressed concern about finding someone to fill the seat, which Barrera won in an unopposed race last year.

While Unalaska City School District Superintendent John Conwell said finding new school board members has previously posed a challenge, leaving the seat vacant is not an option.

"That's actually been a concern before and I remember discussing that with the school board's attorney and he said, 'find somebody to file for the seat,'" Conwell said. "It's pretty critical – we're a five member board. We need that fifth member." 

According to Conwell, the state requires the Unalaska school district to have five members on its board.

Board member Carlos Tayag holds the role of acting president until the board elects new officials. 

Tayag said he values Barrera's input and service to the district.

"When I joined the board, he was a great mentor for me and taught me a lot of things along the way," Tayag said. "He's always been very open about sharing his knowledge and his experience. And one thing that I think that we're going to miss without having Fernando on the board is that he's a thoughtful person who's always thinking of the other people in the room." 

The School board seat E term expires in 2023. The appointed school board member will serve until the next municipal election in October.


Hailing from Southwest Washington, Maggie moved to Unalaska in 2019. She's dabbled in independent print journalism in Oregon and completed her Master of Arts in English Studies at Western Washington University — where she also taught Rhetoric and Composition courses.
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