Leu, Ford resign from Blaine school board


In a whirlwind week for the Blaine school board, board president Don Leu and member Ryan Ford both resigned from their respective positions just weeks into their elected terms.

Leu, who has served on the board since 2022 and was recently appointed board president, resigned from his position due to unspecified health reasons, effective February 22.

Ford, who was elected to the board in the November election, officially resigned on February 21 to spend more time with his wife who is battling cancer and five children.

The three remaining school board members unanimously appointed Cliff Freeman, who was elected in November, as board president.

Per district policy, the board has 90 days to appoint two new members to replace the departing members, and school district superintendent Christopher Granger said interviews are planned be held March 15. More information on how to apply will be released in the following days.

“I appreciate that I had the pleasure to work in collaboration with both of these gentlemen, albeit for a short time,” Granger wrote in an email to The Northern Light. “They both care deeply about education and the community and have said they are willing to help in other ways when they are able.”

There’s no good time for a board member to depart, but a looming $2.5 million budget shortfall still needs to be dealt with and brought to the board by the end of April for ratification. With the district levy passing in the February special election, the budget shortfall is significantly less than if the levy hadn’t passed, but cuts will still need to be made.

The district has held listening events over the past two weeks to gauge what the community finds important to keep in the next budget, and what could possibly be cut.

Ford, who spoke at the February 26 board meeting to thank the community, said that while he is still passionate about education and providing the best for Blaine students, the workload required from a board member was not feasible for him.

“If I jump into something, I put my all into it,” Ford said. “With a job that’s 50-60 hours a week, plus a wife with cancer and five kids, I didn’t have 20 to 30 hours [a month] to really succeed at the position.”

Leu, who has worked in education for decades, said he hopes to continue supporting the school district in whatever capacity he can.

“It is no small feat to be a board member,” Granger wrote. “And they put in the time and energy to be informed, educated and thoughtful in their partnership leading the Blaine school district.”

In other school district news, Granger informed the community during the February 26 meeting that a candidate to fill the role of departed chief financial officer Amber Porter was interviewed and offered a job, but did not accept the position.

The school district is now considering hiring a talent search firm to find candidates throughout the state. Cost for the firm, likely to be Northwest Leadership Associates, will range between $8,000 and $10,000, according to the district.

During the meeting, board member Ben Lazarus said Porter left her position due to alleged personal attacks from board member Erika Creydt. Creydt said that her intention was not to attack Porter, but to clarify budget information before cuts needed to be made. Porter recently took a position at the Oak Harbor school district, but is still working with Blaine school district during this transition period, Granger said. 

Correction: This article was updated February 29 to correct the spelling of  Erika Creydt's name. We regret the error. 


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