The make-up of Columbia County's school board will change next year.
Long-time board member Mildred Blackburn announced during a Wednesday board of education meeting that she will not seek re-election this fall.
Now in her third term, Blackburn first was elected to the office in 1998. Before her election to the school board, Blackburn worked as a middle-school teacher in Columbia County for 22 years.
Blackburn said the prospect of serving another four-year term on the board seemed too much.
"I've been working in education for a long time, and this just seemed like the right time, during an election year, to step aside and let someone else give it a try," she said.
Blackburn represents District 2, which covers much of the Martinez area. She recently was elected by her fellow board members to serve as vice chairman of the board for 2010.
Just hours after Blackburn's announcement, Butler High School teacher Lee Benedict filed his intent to run for the seat with the Columbia County Board of Elections office.
Benedict previously ran two failed campaigns to seek offices in the state Legislature.
Qualifying for the non-partisan school board election starts June 28 and ends on July 2. The election will be held Nov. 2.
Also on Wednesday, school officials approved a revision to teacher contracts, which now stress that salaries are "not guaranteed."
It goes on to state that the salaries are conditional on the "receipt of sufficient funds" from the federal, state and county governments.
The new passage is meant to inform teachers that he or she might lose income due to budget cuts, furloughs or other economic reasons.
School board attorney Pete Fletcher said the language of the new passage is similar to language in previous contracts, but more clear and detailed.
Superintendent Charles Nagle said flexibility in the contracts was needed to adapt to an ever-dwindling pool of money from the state to fund school systems.
"It's a business deal," he said. "We're having to change the way we're doing business."
The school system has lost $13.8 million in state funding and officials expect even deeper cuts for next school year.
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