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Harring, Jones leave school board

The Oak Harbor School District has changed for the better in recent years. All of the elementary schools were renovated, a new stadium was built, a high school expansion was approved and more people are generally supportive of local schools.

School board members Kathy Jones and Vicki Harring helped guide the school district through those changes over the past eight years or so. However, two full terms on the Oak Harbor School Board is enough and both are preparing to leave their posts.

Harring is completing eight years on the board, while Jones, who was originally appointed to fill out a term, is completing her ninth year.

They finish their terms on the school board this month and their replacements, David Sherman and Peter Hunt, will be sworn in during a December board meeting.

Board members and staff had a sentimental sendoff for the pair during the Monday evening school board meeting.

Superintendent Rick Schulte rattled off an extensive list of accomplishments the school district has achieved during their tenures, running the gamut from facilities improvements to expansion of educational programs.

The school district has seen improvements to most of its school buildings. The elementary schools were upgraded, Wildcat Memorial Stadium was built and a multi-million dollar bond to finance the renovation of Oak Harbor High School was approved.

Schulte also pointed to the improvements the district has made in communications. Such things as the updated Web site and the school district newsletter passed out to the community helped during recent crises.

In education, the school district continues to meet federal progress standards, art and PE teachers work in the elementary schools and the school day was extended to allow more time for instruction.

Schulte said Jones and Harring also helped hire most of the current administrators and were always helpful with legislative issues such as the simple majority and Impact Aid.

Sadness at seeing Harring and Jones go was universal.

It’s been a pleasure to work with these women for years,” School Board Chairman Gary Wallin said.

Harring decided that she didn’t want to run for a third term because of her desire to devote more time to family. She is currently spending the holidays in California. Her son is an independent filmmaker and she will provide the catering while he produces a movie.

She is most proud of the voter approval of the maintenance and operations levy as well as the bonds that are funding upgrades to schools and construction of a new high school.

She wished she would have seen the completion of the high school modernization project but she is happy with the new board member replacing her.

“I know that the Oak Harbor School District is in good hands,” Harring said.

Kathy Jones decided not to run again because she wanted fewer commitments so she could spend more time with her family. She won’t have a lot of extra time, as she was recently named chairwoman of the Island County Republican Party.

Jones is most proud of the improvements the school district made in academics during the nine years she spent on the board.

“I think we’ve done a great job over the past nine years to provide more and better academic opportunities,” Jones said. When she started on the board the high school didn’t have advanced placement courses and the career and technical programs had difficulties.

She is also pleased with the trust the school district has built with the community, which was key to approval of the bonds and levies. The school district made a concerted effort to reach out to parents and the community, Jones said. She also lauded the efforts of Communications Director Joe Hunt, the formal relationship the board has with school PTAs and the implementation of Skyward, which allows parents to access their children’s records online.

Jones regrets the closure of an elementary school. That happened at the end of the last school year because of funding problems.

“One thing I’m sad about is to see Clover Valley Elementary School close,” Jones said. She said that space could have been used to help provide all-day kindergarten or help further reduce class sizes.

She wished the new school board members well as they take their seats.

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