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The Ellensburg School Board is looking for a new member to replace Jennifer Hackett, who recently announced her resignation.

Hackett was a member of the board for 4 1/2 years and was president in her third year. She is leaving because she said she no longer believes she can dedicate the time the position requires.

“It was a really hard decision, I had actually never wanted to do more than one term, but nobody filed for my seat,” Hackett said. “With everything going on right now, the school board really needs members who are totally all in.”

She said she is not resigning because she does not have faith the board can meet the challenges it is currently facing, the COVID-19 outbreak and the budgeting crisis, but because she has faith, they can do it without her.

Hackett was convinced to join the board by Meg Ludlum, who is still a member. Hackett was going through chemotherapy at the time and told herself that when she got through it, she was going to do something for the community.

She joined because she wanted the board to become more involved with the community and increase its transparency with the public.

“That was my passion, my passion was openness, transparency and accountability. The board has to make decisions, but I wanted a board where I felt those decisions were informed by the community early in the decision-making process,” Hackett said.

Hackett was board president during the district search for a new superintendent. To follow her goals of board transparency, the application process for the new superintendent was an open interview process. She and the rest of the board wanted to hear what the community thought of each potential candidate. Hackett said the community input regarding potential superintendents was a huge factor in their decision making.

Hackett now believes that the culture of the school board has changed for the better and is now more transparent than ever. This is one of the reasons she feels comfortable stepping down from the board.

“We have really, really difficult challenges ahead, but I see my other board members really taking the time to do the research and do the readings and go to all the extra meetings and I just did not. I was getting to the point where I simply could not do what they were doing.”

Hackett hopes that whoever takes her position on the school board will be someone who can add some diversity to the board. ESD is full of a diverse range of students, and Hackett would like for them to be represented on the board.

Her mapping skills were a valuable asset to the school board, according to board president Tosha Woods. She was able to find ideal locations for new school buildings and explain why some locations were better than others to the other board members.

Hackett will continue her mapping skills and has created a data set to map the local areas in Washington. She will continue to help the school district if it ever asks for it.

Woods said the search for a new board member will begin with an online application. Anyone in the district can apply for the position and the process will be available Monday.

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