Erik Mann resigns from school board

Change is coming to the Oak Harbor School Board as a longtime member resigned to take another job.

More change is coming to the Oak Harbor School Board as a longtime member resigned to take a job in a more tropical location.

Vice President Erik Mann announced his resignation from the board at Monday’s meeting, spurring a reshuffling of board positions. Jessica Aws resigned as president of the school board and was named as vice president, effective Dec. 12. School board member Lynn Goebel was named as president, also effective Dec. 12.

Mann is the second school board member to resign this year. John Diamond, the former school board president, left in April to take a job in Longview, Washington. The board appointed Nikki Tesch to replace him.

Applicants for the vacant school board seat must complete an application by 5 p.m. on Dec 9. The new board member will begin Jan. 30 and will serve until November 2023.

Mann has served on the board since 2017 and was reelected in 2021; his term was not up until 2025. He said he had to leave the board in order to take a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for his career. Mann has accepted a position as the executive director for the Hawaii Habitat for Humanity Association in Honolulu. He is currently the chief operating officer at Habitat for Humanity of Island County.

Mann has a long history of community service. He has been on the board for the Oak Harbor Kiwanis Club, he founded Oak Harbor High School’s sailing team and was a board member for Oak Harbor Youth Sailing. He worked as a real estate manager for about seven years before accepting a job at Habitat.

Mann said some of his greatest accomplishments on the board include improving relationships between the board and school employees. The last three collective bargaining agreements were ratified by 100% of the votes.

“I’m extremely proud of having that trusting relationship,” he said.

Mann was a member of the board when it switched the high school from a semester system to a trimester system, allowing students more flexibility in choosing classes, especially electives.

He was also proud of the way the district handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been held up statewide at our conferences as a district who managed very well considering all the challenges that were put in front of us,” he said.

The biggest challenge he faced as a board member was the problem of misinformation in regards to the pandemic and the rules and requirements that the state had for schools.

“We had a lot of decisions to make that people didn’t agree with, and it may be because they didn’t have the chance to see all the information that we had to process,” he said.

Mann noted that there has been more of a spotlight on the school board over the past couple of years.

“Five years ago, when I joined the board, if we had an audience member it was like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’” he said.

Now it is much more common to have people in the audience and making public comments. Board meetings have even been unruly in the past few years, with two board meetings being disrupted by audience members who spoke against mask mandates.

Mann wanted to voice his support for the upcoming school bond measure, which will be on the ballot in February. He said he attended Olympic View Elementary when it was 30 years old and it already had maintenance issues then.

“All of our elementary schools are old, and we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage 80% of funding for two schools,” he said.

Oak Harbor Public Schools has received 80% matching funds from the Department of Defense for the total cost to rebuild Crescent Harbor Elementary and Hand-in-Hand Early Learning Center and HomeConnection. The bond would also fund the building of a new school on the fields next to Fort Nugent Park and renovate and re-utilize the Oak Harbor Elementary school site.

“I would really hate to see the next generation of kids growing up in the same old schools that I went to,” he said.

At the meeting Monday, other board members bid a tearful goodbye to Mann.

“This is an incredible loss for our board,” Tesch said.

Superintendent Michelle Kuss-Cybula said the next board member has “some big shoes to fill.”

For more information about the position or application, contact Katey Andrews at