LEBANON — The Lebanon Community School District Board of Directors is seeking a replacement for Zone 1 representative Russ McUne, who has announced his resignation.

McUne joined the board in 2008 and served as board chairman five times during his tenure. He has a little more than a year left in his current term.

"We are deeply grateful for the many years of service and leadership Russ has provided," Board Chair Tom Oliver said in a written statement released Friday by the school district. "He has always been motivated by Lebanon School District's commitment to 'Pursuing Excellence for Every Student, Every Day.'”

The board will make a formal announcement about the resignation and discuss the timeline for filling the Zone 1 vacancy at its next regular meeting on April 12. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Santiam Travel Station, 750 S. Third St., and is open to the public.

McUne said his resignation is effective immediately and he will not be present at the April 12 meeting.

McUne is an emergency room physician at Samaritan Albany General Hospital. He joined the board first as an appointee to succeed Sherrie Sprenger as the representative for Zone 1, the Lacomb area. Sprenger had resigned in 2008 to concentrate on her campaign for state representative, which she achieved.

McUne went on to be formally elected to the position and held it through some of the district's most tumultuous times, including the resignation of Superintendent Jim Robinson, the ending of Lebanon High School's "academy" system, backlash over a personal relationship between the current superintendent and a principal, and, most recently, a crowding situation at Seven Oak Middle School that prompted a step toward what may become an entire district reorganization.

In a phone interview Friday, McUne said he is busy with work and other duties and feels the board "is in a really good position" without him.

"It's a good place to kind of walk away and let the board continue to do the good work that it's been doing," he said.

He said he has been especially proud of being a part of the work that ended the academy system at the high school and of adding a new track and artificial turf football field there. He's also been very happy to see graduation rates improve.

"That's the best part of the job, handing out diplomas to high school kids," he said.

McUne said he will continue to serve on the Albany Public Safety Foundation, his only other current public agency seat.

"I've enjoyed working with the (Lebanon) board," he said, adding that even when he and other board members disagreed, "I think every board member has always had the best interests of kids in mind ... I never doubted their desire to continue to improve things for our kids." 

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