The Pickerington Board of Education selected attorney Robert Clayton Lopez out of 25 applicants to fill the board seat recently vacated by Gail Oakes.
"We are excited to have Robert as a member of the board," said Board President Wes Monhollen. "His leadership and collaborative reasoning skills will be great assets to our community as the board moves forward with the important business of this district."
The vacancy on the board was created when Oakes resigned on April 15 due to the sale of her home. Oakes was elected to the board in 1997 and served two and one-half terms. During her tenure the district grew from 6,659 students to more than 10,000 students today and four new schools were opened.
Lopez hopes to bring a new perspective to the district. Although he acknowledges that the long-term experience of members such as Monhollen enables them to be "extremely good at what they do."
"Being an attorney, specifically a criminal attorney, forces me to think about things in different ways," said Lopez. "(I can) think outside the box and come up with new ways to make things (rather than follow) how things have always been done."
Lopez and his wife, Shannon, live in Pickerington and have two children.
"Whatever my daughter is involved in, I try to help, (My family) is an important part of my life," Lopez said.
He helped when his daughter was a girl scout and he has coached her soccer team for five years.
Joining the school board provides Lopez "my first opportunity to really be involved with the community instead of volunteering on the side."
He has followed the actions of the school district for a while.
"I definitely try to keep up on what’s happening for the simple fact that my daughter goes to school there and I try to know as much as I can," Lopez said.
The board scheduled interviews for all 25 applicants.
"This was a difficult decision," said Monhollen. "With so many excellent candidates, this is a testament to the quality residents of this great community. The board conducted a thorough search and we are excited about the future of Pickerington Local Schools. While we will certainly miss the valuable experience of Ms. Oakes, Mr. Lopez will be an excellent addition to our group."
The seat that Lopez will assume expires on Dec. 31, 2009. The board will swear him into office at their May 12 meeting to be held at 7 p.m. at Heritage Elementary.
"I am anxious to get the work started," Lopez said.