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Board picks former teacher to fill vacancy

The Sequim School District board of directors filled its lone vacancy last week, selecting John Bridge, a retired teacher and volunteer with the Sequim School District.

Bridge fills director position No. 3, which was left open by the death of longtime director June Robinson.

"I think I've always wanted to be on the board," Bridge said. "The board ... is an important body and makes important decisions. I see it as just another opportunity to get involved with that and help out."

Bridge and retired teacher Joe Streva were the two finalists for the position.

"(He) knows Sequim schools," Sequim school board president Sarah Bedinger said on June 4, minutes after the board agreed to Bridge's appointment. "There's not going to be a learning curve with John Bridge."

Bridge, 65, began teaching at Helen Haller Elementary School in 1986 as a fourth-grade teacher and kept that position until his retirement.

Since then, he's kept active with Sequim schools as a volunteer.

He was also president of the Sequim Education Association, the local teachers' union.

Bridge served as Sequim Planning Commission chairman, served with the Sequim School District's facilities committee and serves on the Dungeness River Audubon Center board.

"And he's been involved in every levy campaign I've been involved with," said board director Virginia O'Neil. "He's a quiet leader - calm, unflappable. He sees the big picture."

Bridge's appointment lasts until the next general election in November. To complete the remaining two years of Robinson's term, Bridge needed to file for election by Friday. He did.

"I'm feeling pretty comfortable (with the role of school board director)," Bridge said. "I've been a soccer referee where half the people ... think you're wrong."

Bedinger said major school board issues in the coming months that Bridge and others will be dealing with include the district's annual budget that needs to be ratified in August, a maintenance and operations levy drive starting in early 2010 and an ongoing district facilities plan.

Bridge agreed that the district financial constraints and a looming levy campaign would be two of the top concerns for this school board of directors.

"Next year (financially) might be even more difficult," Bridge said. "One of the bigger challenges I'm thinking of at this time is the levy amount we collect. (It) is a very small portion of our budget, compared to other districts. Don't our Sequim kids deserve as much as other communities' kids?"

Bridge lives in Sequim with his wife, Rose.



Reach Michael Dashiell at miked@sequimgazette.com.





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