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Ashland School Board seeks applicants

The Ashland School Board will finish out 2019 with a new task: filling a vacancy opening next month.

Deneice Covert Zeve — a member of the School Board for over six years and its chair for the past two and a half — announced at the Nov. 13 meeting that she would be stepping away from her position after the Dec. 9 regular meeting.

“With our children graduated, our life has changed dramatically,” Zeve said in an interview Friday.

She said she would be missing more board meetings due to travel and that after giving thousands of hours during her time on the board, she was ready for a break.

“There’s only so much capacity a human being has for that level of work and time commitment,” Zeve said. “I feel really proud about the time I’ve given and have no regrets about leaving.”

Zeve would have had until June 30, 2021, before her seat was up for re-election. Jim Westrick, vice-chair of the School Board, said that midterm departures aren’t uncommon, as the time commitment from members is significant.

Zeve, he said, will leave “big shoes to step into.”

He and Zeve both referred to hiring Kelly Raymond as superintendent of the Ashland School District as one of the high points of Zeve’s time on the board.

“The most important thing a board can do is hire a superintendent,” Westrick said.

After several years of superintendent turnover, Zeve said, hiring Raymond enabled the district to focus on its goals and strategies with greater focus and stability.

“It creates a little bit of a lag time when you have that level of turnover,” she said.

Zeve also pointed to the $109 million bond Ashland voters passed in November 2018 as a highlight.

“The community has been supportive of our district, which has allowed us to provide the services we’ve been able to,” she said.

As a board member, Zeve said she quickly learned how wide of a breadth of understanding she needed to do her job.

That’s why she hopes the person who replaces her will also have a wide lens and not be focused on a single issue.

“I think a willingness to learn, a passion for doing what’s best for kids ... those are the two main things, and, of course, an open mind,” she said of what she hopes to see in the next school board member.

Westrick said the board will spread the word about its opening in a variety of means to attract diverse candidates. Prior to making a decision next year, it will conduct community outreach to see what qualities Ashland residents want in a board member.

Because the term on the seat expires in 18 months, Westrick said the board will focus on filling the seat expediently.

“We’re lucky in Ashland,” he said. “I think we’ve got plenty of people who are willing to step up when the time comes.”

The board will publicly decide on its process to seek applicants at its meeting Dec. 9, according to Westrick.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay.

Zeve