Have you ever wondered about the role of a school board member in a school district? What are their responsibilities? What kinds of qualifications do they need? How are they elected, and for how long? Who are the current board members for South Lane School District and what interested them in the position?
Generally speaking, the school board is responsible for the conduct and governance of schools. What does that mean? More specifically, they are responsible for establishing the rules (board policies) that govern the schools consistent with state and federal laws. They are also the communication body between the public and the schools. The Board keeps informed about the needs and wishes of the public, and keeps local citizens informed about the schools. The School Board hires the superintendent, and is responsible for evaluating the superintendent’s performance on an annual basis. The Board authorizes, appropriates and approves a budget each year. The registered voters elect them for four year terms. In South Lane School District they are elected by positions, which are all 'at large' and do not have any residency requirements other than living within the South Lane School District Boundaries.
To qualify as a board member, a person must be at least 18 years of age, be a registered voter 20 days preceding any election, and have been a resident of the district for one year prior to the election or appointment. A board member cannot be an employee of the school district.
So, that is the technical side of what board members do, however, in South Lane they do so much more! They are parents and grandparents, they volunteer in classrooms, they save people’s lives, they teach adults, they sell real estate, they are local Rotarians, they share the great work you all do throughout the state, they attend activities and events, and they volunteer several hundred hours of their own time each year to serve as a school board member. We’d like to introduce you to our school board members:
Sherry Duerst-Higgins, Board Chair -- Sherry has served on the board since 1988 and also serves on the board for the Lane Education Service District (Lane ESD) and for the Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA). In addition, Sherry is a past president of the OSAA and is currently serving on the OSAA Executive Board. She is a real estate broker for Remax Advantage Plus. A long time resident of Cottage Grove, all three of Sherry's children graduated from Cottage Grove High School, as has one granddaughter. Another granddaughter is currently attending Lincoln Middle School. Sherry represents Position 4, Blue Mountain/Mt. View.
Tammy Hodgkinson -- Tammy was elected to the school board in May 2011 representing Position 1, Latham/London. Tammy describes herself as a former kindergarten teacher (13 years) and is involved with the Bohemia Elementary Parent Club.
Alan Baas -- Alan was elected in May 2013 to represent Position 5. He has lived in Cottage Grove since 1994 and is semi-retired. In addition to serving on the SLSD School Board, he has served on the board of South Lane Mental Health Services since 2001 and as the school board’s representative to the Lane County Council of Governments (LCOG) since 2013. He currently is on the LCOG executive committee and involved in building a stronger Cottage Grove community by membership on the town’s Be Your Best, Team Cottager Grove, and Vision Keepers committees. Before he retired Alan spent a decade working as scholarship services manager and donor relations officer for the state’s Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC), formerly the State Scholarship Commission. He has two sons, Adam a lawyer in San Francisco and Jude, a screen writer and property development consultant in Portland.
Merlene Martin -- Merlene Martin retired after working in the South Lane School District for 22 years as an education assistant. She was the State of Oregon's OSEA President for nearly a decade. Representing Position 3, Delight Valley, Merlene was elected to the school board in May 2011.
Gary Mort -- Elected May 2015
Jerry Settelmeyer -- Hi. I'm Jerry Settelmeyer, second "one" of a family of 10 children. Mostly as a result of two fantastic, sacrificing parents I have spent my entire life caring about and for people. From this large family, sharing what we had, learning to work and sweat on a farm, being a student of Public Education and LIFE. I am a proud adult, husband, father, educator, volunteer firefighter, community member, and now retired Papa/Volunteer I am committed, in any positive way I can, to help make life "the best it can be" for all my fellow beings (especially children). My blessings allow me to dedicate much energy and time to help make learning and school a very positive and successful time. I believe there is much more we can do for our young population and I'm here to help make those things happen. This is my commitment to our children and our patrons who have "put" me here.
About 5'9" tall and getting shorter- about 180 pounds and always up or down a few, 66 years old and getting older by the day (Thank you Lord), member - CGHS Class of '66, married 46 years (so far) to the best woman in the world, father to 3 fabulous daughters who, like their mother and I, are teachers. Army Veteran, 12 years volunteer firefighter, and I’m currently a member of the South Lane County Fire and Rescue Board of Directors, living Christian, have lived in Cottage Grove area for 52 years and counting up, and I really like Grandkids, and KIDS in general, and favorite animal- a pig. Oh Yes- GO BEAVS!
Elected May 2015
Taylor Wilhour -- In addition to owning a small business, Taylor coaches the chess teams at Cottage Grove High and Lincoln Middle Schools. He has two daughters attending South Lane schools and is very active in the Parent Club and Site Council at Latham Elementary School. Taylor was elected to the School Board in May 2013, representing Position 2.