Jennifer McNichol chose not to run for reelection to spend more time on family matters. Chairing her last regular meeting as president, she offered her colleagues some parting advice: “Consider those tough decisions from multiple perspectives — but with the goal of effective governance. Ultimately we have to govern.” (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

Characteristic of her style, Sitka School Board president Jenn McNichol said farewell to her colleagues in an efficiently-run meeting Wednesday night (10-2-19).

Although there wasn’t a formal agenda item for goodbyes, board members managed to slip them in anyway, during their official reports.

Eric Van Cise – And I’d just like to take the opportunity, Jenn, to thank you for your time, and wish you well out there in the future. Yours are big shoes to fill. Thanks for everything you’ve done for the board and community….

Elias Erickson – And of course, Jenn. I’m going to be so sad to see you go. You’ve been a very steady voice of reason. Everything you’ve done is about taking care of young people — from being a pediatrician to being on the board to being a mother of some excellent kids that I got to grow up alongside at certain points. We’ve never doubted your commitment to students. We’ve taken many trips to Juneau together to lobby the legislature. I have a horrible habit of popping my knuckles — now who’s going to kick me under the table if I pop my knuckles when I get too nervous in a meeting? (laughter)….

Amy Morrison – …And I’m not as eloquent as Elias, but Jenn has been an amazing mentor to me and I will miss you very much.

Those were school board members Eric Van Cise, Elias Erikson, and Amy Morrison saying goodbye to board president Jenn McNichol, during Wednesday’s regular meeting of the Sitka School Board — McNichol’s last. Board member Dionne Brady-Howard was out sick.

McNichol (r.) was appointed in 2015, but defended her seat in the 2016 municipal election against challenger Ed Gray. (KCAW photo, Emily Kwong)

McNichol was appointed to the board four years ago, then ran for her seat the following year, and subsequently was voted president by the others on the board.

Toward the end of Wednesday’s meeting, McNichol used her time to offer her thanks to the board — and some advice.

McNichol – Sometimes it’s too easy to only hear the loudest voices, which are not usually the students’ voices. So if I can leave a small bit of advice for the board, it’s to consider those tough decisions from multiple perspectives — but with the goal of effective governance. Ultimately we have to govern. On occasion that’s going to mean pulling up to the 30,000-foot view and seeing the forest for the trees. So thank you all so much for your friendship and support, it’s meant so much to me.

McNichol chose not to run for re-election in order to spend more time on family matters. Voters on Tuesday filled her seat with political newcomer Paul Rioux.

As was his custom during the election campaign, he was in the audience Wednesday. During a break, he talked with KCAW about his priorities, once he officially joins the board.

“I’ve spent a lot of time talking to stakeholders in the district,” Rioux said, “so I feel like I have a pretty good idea of where the community’s at. And more than anything, just coming up to speed on where the board’s at, and where the district’s at. I’m just looking forward to participating at this point.”

The Sitka municipal election will be certified by the assembly on Tuesday, October 8. Rioux will be sworn in during a special meeting of the school board the following Friday at 6 p.m. in the district office board room.