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Ridle takes over Oak Harbor Education Assoc.
Peter Szalai, president of the Oak Harbor Education Association for 11 years, officially stepped down from his leadership position last week, passing the title to the vice president, Kathy Ridle.
Szalai said he was leaving his role as president because he accepted a job as the director of teaching and learning with the school district administration, meaning he is no longer a member of the union.
“I’ve enjoyed representing the members and I think they’re being left in good hands with Kathy, who is a seasoned professional who is widely respected both as a teacher and advocate for members,” Szalai said.
The title of presidency was passed to Ridle, who has been a member of OHEA since she was first hired by the school district about 20 years ago.
“I think he did a fabulous job,” she said, of Szalai’s tenure as president.
Now that she is the president, she said, “it’s exciting and stressful at the same time.”
Her day-to-day job is mostly answering concerns from members and working with the area representation, she said.
OHEA is also working with Washington’s Education Association to get an initiative for smaller class sizes on November’s voting ballot.
“There should be a smooth transition,” said Szalai. “Kathy Ridle, the new president, has been vice president for several years, and she is fully informed on the major issues that we’re advocating for members.”
Her position as president of OHEA is a temporary one, though, as it was automatically passed to her when Szalai stepped down. Ridle said that the association will be holding an election next month to officially fill the position.
“We have an election coming up next month, and I actually then will be elected to the position,” Ridle said. She doesn’t know if anyone else has been nominated for presidency yet.
In the meantime, Ridle said, “I guess first I just need to learn the nuts and bolts of running the organization.”
OHEA is Oak Harbor’s teacher’s union, representing about 300 teachers, librarians, counselors, and educational specialists who work for the Oak Harbor School District.
The association’s constitution says that OHEA “shall be to advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of education in the Oak Harbor School District and the State of Washington.
OHEA will also collectively bargain for certified employees as covered by Washington and/or federal laws.”