?Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Board member Lori Simmons announced Wednesday, July 21, she would not run for re-election when her term expires in December.
Simmons said she decided to leave the board to spend more time with her family. Her oldest son has three years left at home before he graduates high school “and I don't want to miss a minute of it,” she said.
A strong supporter of unification between COCSD and Mingus Union High School District, Simmons has sometimes been at odds with a majority of the board, but said her decision to leave had nothing to do with any action of the board.
The board voted earlier this month to discontinue efforts toward unification over Simmons' objection.
“There is a great relationship amongst the board members. We work beautifully together,” Simmons said. “We may not always agree with each other, but we respect each other and work very well together.”
Three seats on the board come open Friday, Dec. 31, including those of Simmons, Jason Finger and Janice Rollins. Finger and Rollins could not be reached for comment as of press time.
People who may wish to run for Simmons’ seat in the Tuesday, Nov. 2, election must complete paperwork and turn in petitions with at least 73 signatures on or before Wednesday, Aug. 4, according to Robin Bascom, administrative assistant to Yavapai County Superintendent of Schools Tim Carter.
If no candidates step forward to run, Carter will make appointments to the board, Simmons said.
Simmons said she is proud of several board accomplishments during her five years of service, including increased teacher pay, improved classroom rigor and upgraded science and technology programs.
The district computer lab, for example, will be staffed with certificated teachers instead of classified staff starting in 2010-11, she said.
She sai d she will miss interacting with district administrators, including Superintendent Barbara U’Ren, she said.
“I will absolutely miss the opportunity to make a difference in the education of the 2,500 or so children of the district. Now I'll just be the loudest parent at board meetings,” she joked.
Simmons urged district parents to become actively involved in the education of their children by attending board meetings and investing time at the schools their children attend.
Simmons did not rule out the possibility of running for election to an area school board in the future, but has no political ambitions beyond that, she said.
She thanked her husband, a local educator, for making it possible for her to attend board meetings and other activities required of her office.
“God Bless Mark [Simmons]” she said. “I couldn’t have done this without him.”
Simmons has three children, all of whom attend COCSD schools and participate in numerous extracurricular activities.