News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Smith brings experience to school board race

Jeff Smith is a veteran of serving on the Sisters School Board. He has served since 1999, with a 2-1/2 year hiatus.

Smith is running for Position No. 4 in the May 16 election.

Smith's experience serving on the School Board is what he believes sets him apart from other candidates.

"I have been in education for most of my life; I was a teacher and professor, and I coached sports," said Smith.

Smith has lived in Sisters for 27 years. During his first 10 years living here, Smith commuted to Southern California to teach at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Smith would fly on Monday, teach Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and fly back to Sisters for the weekend. When he started serving on the School Board in 1999, he still taught in Southern California before retiring as a professor in 2004 and living full-time in Sisters.

"I felt as if school board service would be a good fit for my background," said Smith.

Smith received his bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in business administration from Oregon State University, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Oregon.

Smith has grown children, and his granddaughter went through Sisters schools K-12. He now has two more grandchildren in middle and high school.

He believes his background in education and the subjects he taught match the needs of a school board member in understanding how the meetings work, as well as the nature of the school board's role. Smith coached his kids when they were little, volunteered with the YMCA, and has always dedicated himself to public service in some capacity.

Smith has dedicated much of his life to serving on the School Board.

When asked why he's served for so long, he said, "I have a passion for education. I believe in good schools, and am lucky enough to end up in a community that has great schools. So, to help sustain and guide that, I believe in public service."

Smith served for 12 years and then took some time off after he felt the Board had a good complexion of members. Two-and-a-half years later, Board Chair Don Hedrick came to Smith and asked him to come back and provide stability to the Board again

"I think our board needs a veteran board member," said Smith. "There are things that I know from all my years of service and from all of the OSBA conventions I've gone to that our current board doesn't know."

The Oregon School Board Association puts on conventions every year, allowing members to learn what a school board does, how it should operate, its role within a community, and each individual member's role. The OSBA offered a free weekend course when Smith was first on the board. They spent three days talking about school board service, and he jumped at the opportunity to continue educating himself.

"I worked hard to educate myself in the role of being a school board member. To know what school boards ought to be doing, and what kinds of things we shouldn't be involved in," he said.

School boards set budgets and policy. They supervise only one employee - the schools superintendent - and do not involve themselves in day-to-day operations of a district.

Smith wants to continue his service to the School Board because of his experience, and he notes that he has the time, passion, and skills to make a good board member.

Smith has volunteered numerous hours with the schools, going out with the middle school outdoor ECOs class and the high school IEE program on mountain trips, and coaching wrestling for many years.

"I hope I've provided stability and made a difference," he said.


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