Thursday night, the SCSD #1 Board of Trustees will seat it’s newly elected board members. It’s a transition that will take place all over Wyoming. Like many district’s, part of this process often includes some sort of recognition for the board members transitioning off the board. I’m not letting the proverbial cat out of the bag. It’s pretty standard fare. And Thursday night we’ll give our departing board members a nice plaque and take our turns saying thank you. For my part however, I need to take some time and this opportunity to recognize Jim Malkowski for his service to SCSD #1, because his efforts on behalf of children in Sublette County have been anything but standard.
Jim started as a board member in 1991. And for the past twenty-one years, he’s been an integral part of the fabric that is SCSD #1. In addition to serving as the chairman of the SCSD #1 board for 11 years, Jim has been a WSBA Area Director, a member of the WHSAA Board of Directors, and a member of the All-Wyoming School Board. In any given year, including special meetings, we have upwards of 30 or more meetings, and that doesn’t include the PAC and BOCES boards on which Jim served. When you include all of those meetings, the WHSAA meetings, the WSBA leadership meetings, and professional development opportunities, the number of meetings Jim has attended in his official capacity as a board member easily exceeds one thousand. That’s a lot of fabric.
It also turns out to be a lot of professional development. Each year, at the Wyoming School Board Association (WSBA) annual conference, board members around the state are recognized for meeting professional development milestones. The WSBA has a point system whereby board members receive points for professional development and service on state and national committees. To become a certified board member, you must earn 50 points. To qualify for the School Board Leadership “Hall of Fame”, you must earn 400 points. Jim is exiting our board with 1275 points, the only school board member in Wyoming with over 1000 points. He is easily the most dedicated board member with whom I have ever worked in terms of his commitment to continuing his professional development.
Being a board member isn’t easy. In my opinion it’s one of the most challenging community service opportunities a person can undertake. And, over the past twenty-one years, there’s certainly been no shortage of challenges. The student population at SCSD #1 has grown by 50% and the demographics of our district have changed dramatically. The district has dealt with significant changes to the school funding model, ever-increasing accountability measures, and an erosion of local control. All things considered, it’s easy to understand why the average tenure for school board members is less than five years. But if you take the time to get to know Jim, it’s just as easy to understand why he has been a dedicated board member for over two decades.
For the past two and a half years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of other board members and administrators from around the state. Almost all of them know Jim, and with few exceptions, they all said the same thing somewhere during our conversation. “I always know where I stand with Jim.” So as we transition to a newly configured board and Jim transitions to a new chapter in his life, I want Jim to know where I stand; thankful for his many years of service to the children of Sublette County School District #1, and proud to have worked with him. Godspeed Jim.