While distributing certificates of appreciation to Philomath School Board members on Thursday night as a thank you for service to the district, Superintendent of Schools Susan Halliday joked, “We would like to appreciate each of you for what you do in your highly paid positions” — the comment interrupted with an outburst of laughter.
It’s not uncommon for districts to bring attention to the intense level of unpaid volunteering required for those who sit on school boards, especially during School Board Recognition Month. This year, however, sitting in the seat comes during an extra-challenging period that dates back to the beginning of the pandemic.
Philomath School Board members include chair Rick Wells, Joe Dealy, Anton Grube, Erin Gudge and Karen Skinkis. Grube and Skinkis have served since 2019 and Wells, Dealy and Gudge took their seats on July 1. Wells had been a School Board member previously with 16 years of service from 2003-19.
Halliday said Philomath joined 196 other districts throughout the state to celebrate January as School Board Recognition Month.
“Our school board members spend countless hours of unpaid time working to provide the best
possible education for our students,” Halliday said. “They also serve as the corporate board of directors for one of our community’s largest employers. Celebrating School Board Recognition Month is one way to say thanks for all they do.”
Halliday pointed out that the School Board members represent citizens’ views and priorities in the complex enterprise of maintaining and running the community’s public schools, and reinforce the principle of local control over public education.
“Too often the efforts of School Board members go unrecognized,” Halliday said.
The school board’s main goal, Halliday added, is to support student achievement.
To achieve that goal, she said the board focuses on the following needs:
• Creating a vision for what parents and citizens want their school district to become and how to make student achievement the top priority.
• Setting standards for what students must learn and be able to do.
• Assessing whether schools achieve their goals and whether students are learning.
• Accounting for the outcomes of decisions and by tracking progress and reporting results.
• Aligning the use of the district’s human and financial resources.
• Creating a safe and orderly climate where students can learn and teachers can teach.
• Collaborating to solve common problems and to support common successes.
• Focusing on continuous improvement by questioning, examining, revising, refining
and revisiting issues related to student achievement.
“Even though we are making a special effort during January to show appreciation for our School
Board members, we recognize their contributions reflect a year-round effort on their part,” Halliday said. “They are dedicated individuals who are committed to improving student achievement and to fighting for the best for all of our students.”