ASHLAND — Midway through his second four-year term, Ashland school board member John Williams has decided to step down from his post, effective Tuesday, June 13.
A self-described “serial entrepreneur” and six-year board member, Williams, 50, who will continue to serve as the president of Ashland High Arts Advocates, says for both his personal life and the district it’s as good a time to step down as any.
“First of all, it’s just a natural transition point for the school district being the end of the school year,” he said. “We have a new superintendent starting July 1, and it’s a good time for a transition, I think.
“And secondly, with both of my kids in high school, I’m feeling that parental need to spend as much time with them as possible before they leave home for college and their futures, so I’d like to spend more time with my family. And probably a third reason is, simply, I’m on four other boards and commissions, and some of them I’d like to spend a little more time on, too.”
The board is expected to approve Williams' resignation during tonight's meeting.
Anyone interested in being considered for the soon-to-be-vacant position 2 can visit the district’s website (www.ashland.k12.or.us) for details about its responsibilities and requirements. The board will hold an informal Q&A for those interested in serving June 26 and July 10 at the district office and interview applicants July 17. A vote to fill the vacancy will be held July 19 at a time and location yet to be determined.
In a press release by the district issued last Monday, board chairman Jim Westrick said Williams’ replacement should have a heart for local education.
“The school board is most effective when a broad range of voices and perspectives is included,” he said. “Besides the legal requirements for board members, the only real skills needed are to think critically, use common sense, and consider the needs of all students when making decisions. It is a demanding volunteer position, but also the most gratifying.”
Williams was first elected to the board in May 2011 and was re-elected in 2015. When asked what advice he would give for his replacement, Williams echoed Westrick’s statement and added that one-issue candidates need not apply.
“It’s not a good idea to join the board if you have a single ax to grind with the school district — that’s not what the position is all about,” he said. “You have to make decisions based on what’s good for everybody, and if you go in there with a very specific narrow agenda, it’s very quickly going to become a sore point. … We need people who have a wide range of interests and really want to see the entire entity succeed.”
Williams, who’s co-founded several technology companies and plans to launch another startup this summer, added that it’s important for school board members to be diligent in order for the district to maintain its status as one of the best in the state.
“It’s obvious, of course, by any measure that the Ashland school district is a high-performing school district,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean there aren’t areas for improvement. So the takeaway for new people or a new board member would be to always be looking at ways to improve the district and not to rest on your laurels.
— Joe Zavala is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 541-821-0829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Joe_Zavala99.