News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Hedrick takes reins as school board chair

The Sisters School Board has installed Don Hedrick as its new chair.

Hedrick, a long-serving member of the board, takes over for Jay Wilkins, whose term ended this year and who did not seek re-election to the board. David Thorsett was chosen as vice-chair.

Hedrick, a retired school principal, is in his 11th year overall in serving on the board, including a previous stint as chair from 2012 to 2016. Over a span of 34 years, Hedrick spent 25 in suburban Chicago as a teacher and administrator, before moving to Oregon in 1982 where he completed his career working in Chiloquin, and, finally, Tillamook from where he retired in 1991.

He and his wife, Shirley, also a retired teacher, have lived in Sisters since 2003.

Hedrick views the role of the School Board very clearly: “Our job as a board is fairly limited. We hire and evaluate the superintendent, we produce and approve the budget, negotiate contracts, and work on policy. The work we do is to help ensure that we are supporting the best possible education for the students of Sisters.

When asked about the issues facing the Sisters School District he said he is concerned about the latest news regarding the uptick in coronavirus cases in Oregon and what that impact will have on schools in the upcoming year.

“Obviously the virus, with the Delta variant, is spreading and is a big problem, and the governor has announced orders about mask wearing inside state buildings and that K-12 school students will also be wearing masks,” he said. “What I want most is for our students to be able to be in school all year with a full five-day school week, but I am concerned that may not happen if things get worse again.”

“Of course, everyone wishes we didn’t have to wear masks, but the School Board and the superintendent’s responsibility is to keep the students and staff safe. I don’t know if other orders or directives will be coming down from the State Board of Education, the governor, or Oregon Health Authority,” he added. “We continue to operate in the midst of a moving target.”

Hedrick is very excited about the new elementary school that will be built in the next couple of years and said he feels very pleased about the interest shown by community members applying to serve on the bond oversight committee.

With his experience as a school administrator in Oregon with his board service, Hedrick is no stranger to the challenges of the way Oregon funds schools and is concerned once again about the State’s appropriation of funds this year not being enough.

“Oregon does things sort of backward when it comes to the budget process,” he explained. “School districts are required by law to have a budget approved by June 30 each year, but we often don’t know what the State’s final allocations will be by then.”

Oregon has approved an overall education budget of $9.3 billion for K-12 schools.

In addition to Hedrick and Thorsett, the other three board members include Jeff Smith, Edie Jones, and newly elected Jenica Cogdill.

Hedrick said, “I think we have a really good board right now.”

Jones, Thorsett, and, Cogdill are relatively new, and Hedrick hopes that they can have an opportunity in the year ahead to take part in training workshops offered by the Oregon School Board Association, which have largely been unavailable in the past year or so due to the pandemic.

“Even Jeff (Smith) and I, who have a lot of experience, would benefit from some refresher workshops,” he said. “There’s a definite learning curve and these trainings really help.”

The next School Board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 4 at 6 p.m. at the school district office.


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