School Board gets a CEO, 'peacemaker'


The Mirror

The newest member of the Federal Way Public School Board is the CEO of a local company.

Thomas Madden was appointed by a 3-1 vote of the board Monday night after board members and about 40 other people listened to the four candidates answer several questions. He was expected to be sworn in at the board’s regular meeting Tuesday.

Board members Evelyn Castellar, Ed Barney and Charles Hoff voted for Madden. Bob Millen was the lone nay vote.

Madden, chief executive officer of Investor Relations International, was one of four candidates who applied for the position left vacant by Earl VanDorien Jr.’s resignation in April. The others were Jim Storvick, Bob Wheeler and Heidi Gailey.

The board asked all four the same 13 questions, covering topics from building consensus on an issue that divides the board to parental involvement. The meeting lasted about two and a half hours.

Most of the people in the audience were members of the Federal Way Education Association (FWEA), which is considering a vote of no-confidence in the board because of differences with the board’s direction.

Madden highlighted his communication skills and willingness to work as a team player. He said the board needs to build some team spirit and get away from petty differences.

He also spoke about encouraging retirees to give time in the classrooms and seeking out private donors to help the school district. The PTA could also be more effective in getting parents to be involved in their children’s educations, he said.

The Federal Way High School graduate of 1976 admitted his learning curve will be steep, but said he’s “a hands-on” person and is willing to learn.

He said he met with Federal Way Public Schools superintendent Tom Murphy prior to the interview to learn about the district and its goals.

Madden, who has two children enrolled in the district, said he wants to listen to constituents, school employees and the board.

FWEA president Shannon Rasmussen said the union is interested in working with Madden and helping him learn about the issues the district is facing.

Castellar said he was her favorite because he wanted to be a team player, was friendly and knows a lot of people in the community.

“I think Tom will be a peacemaker,” she said.

She added that she liked Gailey.

Madden’s connections to the business community and interest in getting others involved that aren’t currently interested Barney. Barney said he also liked the newest member’s enthusiasm for engaging PTA in district issues.

Hoff said Madden was his choice because of his “fresh views” of the district and board and having accomplished a lot in his life.

Madden will “get some things done,” Hoff said.

Millen didn’t stay long after the meeting was adjourned and wasn’t available to give his thoughts.

Madden’s appointment lasts until the end of this year, when the term originally won by Van Dorien expires. Madden said he’ll run for election in the fall.

He might have competition. Wheeler told the board he was already starting the paperwork to run for election. Earlier, he told the Mirror he would run for election if he wasn’t appointed.

Gailey also has said she would consider running, depending on who the appointed board member was.

Storvick hasn’t revealed whether he will run in the fall, but he has been considering it since last year.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565,

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