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Rick Wood announces retirement from School Board

Since the law does not require them, Rick Wood is imposing term limits on himself.

Wood, who is retired as a teacher and successful basketball coach at West Henderson High School, said his third term will be his last.
“After teaching and coaching for 40 years and serving on the School Board for nearly 12, it’s time for me to reduce my calendar responsibilities,” he said. “Between my School Board duties, Kiwanis Club meetings, church meetings and my involvement in several other organizations, there’s not a lot of time to do things with my wife of 49 years. Being a coach’s wife for 40 years and a School Board member’s wife for 12 years was not always easy.”
He said he wants to spend more time with Beverly, who is also a retired teacher, and travel, although he won’t end community service entirely.
“I will still be involved after 2020, just not quite as involved,” he said.
The son, grandson and brother of schoolteachers, Wood grew up in Kinston, Alabama, a tiny town “like Saluda with a train track running through, with stores on one side, church, school and family.”
A vocational ag teacher, his father grew vegetables and raised a few cattle and pigs.
Wood said with election filing moved up to December for the 2020 elections, he wanted to give potential candidates time to consider the School Board race. Besides Wood, Mary Louise Corn, Michael Absher and Blair Craven are up for re-election next Nov. 3. Wood’s recommended traits for a School Board member? “Their No. 1 priority should be the educational welfare of all our students, be a team player and be reliable,” he said.
He’s lived that by example.
“I’m proud to say I’ve not missed a single board meeting or committee meeting during my 11 years on the board,” he said.

Elected in the depth of the Great Recession in 2008, Wood joined a governing body that “had to make some tough discussions about what could we cut and not hurt the core principles of education of our students,” he said.
Among the board’s greatest achievements during his three terms are its hiring choices, a comprehensive evaluation of every school building for security upgrades and maintenance needs, a broad rewrite of school system policies and resolving at last the conflict over a new Hendersonville High School.
“Our School Board made excellent decisions in hiring two local products, David Jones and Bo Caldwell as superintendents,” he said. “After some very difficult negotiations, we succeeded in getting three new school buildings in recent years” — the Innovative High School on the BRCC campus, Edneyville Elementary School and HHS.
“I have tried to help foster a better relationship with the county commissioners as a member of the joint school-board county commissioner facilities committee,” he said. “I am really glad to see, and hope that I contributed a little bit in that regard, (each board) respect each other’s role. Both are elected, both have a role to play and both have the best interest of the county and we stopped buttin’ heads. I think they’ve given some, we’ve given some.
“This saga with Hendersonville High School was one of the biggest things that was frustrating for so long because we weren’t working together. But what we ended up with, I think the community is going to be really proud, the community as a whole. It’s really going to be a showplace.”
There was friction over budget cuts in the recession years and then a long battle over the renovation and new construction of HHS. More recently, commissioners authorized a tax increase to fund things like new roofs, HVAC systems and other major repairs.
“They’ve seen this investment in all these buildings that taxpayers have made and maintenance is so important, they see it,” he said. “They welcome us doing this evaluation and they’ve opened the pocketbook. We’re going to spend some money” on maintenance and safety.