Jim Stoffer, a Sequim School Board director since 2015, has resigned his position effective the end of September.
School board president Eric Pickens announced Stoffer’s resignation at the board’s regular meeting on Sept. 19 after receiving an email from the two-term director.
“Over the past two decades, as a parent, volunteer, and board member, I have been privileged to be a part of the Sequim schools community,” Stoffer noted in the email. “I am grateful for the efforts of so many people, every single day, to provide for our children’s educational and personal growth.
“Although differences remain among school advocates, and in our community, there is far more that unites us than divides us. Together, we all believe in the future of Sequim students and in enhancing that future in every way we can.”
Stoffer did not attend the virtual meeting.
“He has certainly done his part to be involved with the Sequim School District in many capacities,” Pickens said at the Sept. 19 meeting. “I wish him well. He’ll certainly be missed.”
In a later interview, Stoffer said he had some health challenges in recent months that encouraged him to step down.
“I’m just at that stage, [there were] a couple of medical scares this past year,” he said. “It’s a good time [to go]. I was not planning to run for re-election.”
The board will now open applications to fill the seat. Stoffer serves in District 3, one of the district’s three director positions defined by boundaries (two are at-large positions). His district is Sequim’s south and east region — roughly the River Road, Bell Hill, Port Williams, the eastern portion of downtown, Blyn and the small portion of west Jefferson County (Gardiner) included in the school district’s boundaries. (see a map of director districts at tinyurl.com/SSDdirectormap.)
Stoffer, a retired member of the U.S. Coast Guard, has served in his role as a board director since winning his initial election in 2015, and is the longest-tenured member of the current board.
Since joining the board, he has served as the board’s legislation representative with the Washington State School Directors’ Association, and on the legislative committee that reviews and recommends positions for legislative issues for WSSDA, one of two individuals representing 16 school districts in Clallam, Kitsap and Jefferson counties.
“That work is very important and has made a difference,” Stoffer said. “That kept me very, very busy.”
A WSSDA Trust Lands Advisory Committee member, he has also advocated for seeing more funding from timber harvesting on state trust lands to stay in the geographic regions from where that timber is drawn, an effort backed earlier this year by state schools superintendent Chris Reykdal.
Earlier this month, he represented WSSDA last week at the Board of Natural Resources Annual Retreat held in the straits and coastal region of the North Olympic Peninsula.
Ultimately, Stoffer said, board directors are responsible for hiring superintendents, approving budgets and curriculum, and establishing policies.
In recent years, however, school board members and other school advocates also had to help the district navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and the multitude of challenges in keeping the school district up and running, he said.
“His work as a legislative representatives is really a great service to the board; that leaves a big gap for us,” board director Maren Halverson said at the Sept. 19 meeting.
“I appreciate the things Jim had done for the district,” board director Larry Jeffryes added.
In October 2021, board directors considered but eventually declined to vote on a motion to censure Stoffer for “disclosing to a District employee who has two active complaints against the District information shared confidentially with the Board of Directors.”
After retiring from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2010, Stoffer served the community of Sequim and greater Clallam County in a variety of boards, groups and volunteer projects, including the Sequim-Dungeness Chamber of Commerce, Sequim Irrigation Festival, Prevention Works!, Trinity United Methodist Church, COVID vaccination booster clinics, food distribution services and others. He was honored with three other individuals with a Community Service Award in 2021.
Stoffer said he’ll continue to serve as health and time allows, but his time with the school board is at an end.
“We have a most excellent superintendent,” Stoffer said, of the recently hired Regan Nickels.
“The five of us [directors] are working together well; I’m sure they’ll continue.
“I’m tired, but it’s a good tired. I have no regrets.”
School board opening
With Jim Stoffer resigning last week, the Sequim School Board looks to fill the District 3 position int he coming weeks.
Sequim School District representatives announced the following timeline to fill the vacancy:
• Sept. 23 — Application window opened
• 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10 — Deadline for receiving applications via mail (Sequim School District Office, 503 N. Sequim Ave. Sequim, WA 98382) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
• 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17 — Interviews conducted during the regular board meeting; candidate appointed to board