BY BARBARA SHERMAN
The Sherwood Gazette
The Sherwood School Board was dealing with a fairly routine agenda Feb. 14 when the unexpected happened: The longest-serving board member announced his resignation.
Mark Christie, who was first elected in 1997 and has been re-elected three more times, read a short letter saying he was leaving June 30, one year before his current four-year term is over.
“I want to stay on through this year’s budget process, and I thought this way the board would have time to appoint someone to serve the last year of my term,” Christie said Feb. 20.
He added that he is leaving the school board because he intends to run for a position on another board: Christie and his wife Pat have owned a second home for many years at Devil’s Lake in Lincoln City, and he intends to file for one of two open seats on the five-member Devil’s Lake Water Improvement Board in the 2013 election.
Christie, who served on the school district’s Budget Committee for 1 ½ years before joining the school board almost 15 years ago, explained, “I have seen a lot in 16 ½ years, and we have taken a lot of positive steps. I’ve had four kids graduate from Sherwood High School, and as a board member, I had the opportunity to hand each one of them and their friends their diplomas. That was a real treat — it was a highlight.”
Christie’s four children – Stephanie, now 28; David, 26; Tyson, 24; and Danielle, 20 – are the reason he originally ran for the school board.
“I figured with four kids going through the school system, I wanted to be an advocate for them and all kids,” he said. “Up until Danielle graduated, I’ve had kids in school — and for years at different levels – while I was on the board, so I came from that perspective. I think people on the board without kids in school bring a different perspective, and you need balance.”
Christie said serving on the board was truly a rewarding experience and added that the district has been fortunate to have had excellent superintendents.
“I kept pinching myself as each one left, thinking we wouldn’t find another one as good, but we did,” he said. “Sherwood is a unique place to live, and the district truly wants each child to succeed, so we’ve been able to attract great people. We were tremendously fortunate to get (current Superintendent) Heather (Cordie).”
Christie said he leaves with no regrets about his time on the board and believes the Sherwood School District works so well because of its team approach, with everyone from administrators to certified and classified staff to the school board to city residents all working together to do what’s right for students.
“We have a unique group of folks who work well together,” Christie said. “There was a time when I first started that the relationships were not as good, but over the years it became a total team effort. Our only agenda item is student success.
“If I had to do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat – I wouldn’t change anything. We on the board can have really great discussions and differing viewpoints but then come together to make a decision.”
Christie noted that the Sherwood School District has received state and national recognition for its innovations and policies “that are a reflection of the board, administrators, staff and the entire community.”
He admitted that writing his letter of resignation was the hardest thing he has had to do.
“I wanted to go through the budget process this year, and this will be the toughest budget in many years,” Christie said. “Growth has slowed, and we’re out of options. We have cut everything we can cut. I didn’t want to bow out and leave the other board members to deal with it, and this also will give the board a chance to find someone to replace me.
“It also will give me time to get my name out in Lincoln City and spend time getting to know more people there. I’ve already been semi-active there in various activities.”
Christie is a proud native Oregonian, born in Portland and raised in Eugene until he was almost through high school. The family then moved back to Portland, and Christie graduated from Wilson High School, attended Mount Hood Community College and got a degree in business from Oregon State University.
He has sold Freightliner trucks for 29 years; the Christie family move to Sherwood 18 years ago, and he didn’t wait very long before getting involved with the school district.
Christie knows it’s a tough time for the district financially but has no doubts it will survive the current economy.
“I can’t say enough about my fellow board members,” Christie said. “I love ‘em. They know it — I’ve told them that.”
A couple of Christie’s fellow board members feel the same way about him.
Kevin Noreen said, “I have served on the board with Mark for nine of his 15 years. Mark is passionate about education, passionate about staff and passionate about kids. He has always had the best interest of the district in mind during his 15 years of dedicated service, and he truly leads by example.
“Mark places a priority on fiscal responsibility and has modeled that value for new board members that have been elected to the board. I have really enjoyed serving with Mark, and to borrow one of his own lines, it has truly been awesome to serve with him on the Sherwood School Board. I will miss his sense of humor, dedication and love for the Sherwood School District.”
Sue Hekker had this to say:
“I have had the pleasure of knowing Mark Christie for many years. When I first met Mark, he was listening intently during a very difficult budget discussion. I was impressed with his ability to understand the community concerns while diffusing the situation. Later I got to know Mark during the 2006 bond campaign. Mark worked the phones, walked door to door and participated in every event to pass the bond.
“Mark worked diligently on our behalf on far too many projects to mention over the years. What impresses me most about Mark is that he always does what is best for the children of Sherwood. Mark speaks his mind and never holds back; always with the best interest of the children and the community he serves.
“It is certainly hard to sum up the many years of service Mark Christie has given this community. Simply put, Mark has done amazing work for Sherwood. He has answered the call for so many years and left us all better for it. Thank you, Mark, you will be missed.”
Superintendent Heather Cordie said she appreciated Christie’s long years of service to the district as well.
“It has been such a pleasure to work with, and learn from, Mark Christie,” she said. “His love of our school district and community, coupled with his years of experience, have been such a wonderful addition to our Board of Directors. He will be missed!”