Michael Sullivan felt “conflicted” Dec. 9.
After 25 years of attending school board meetings – some long and heated – Sullivan sat through his last Monday meeting and though he welcomes increased free time, he doesn’t quite know how to let go of something that has been so important in his life, he said.
This summer, Sullivan announced that he would not seek re-election to the Anoka-Hennepin District 11 School Board in November, but the decision only began to sink in last week, Sullivan said during a farewell reception in his honor before the regular board meeting.
A resident of Ham Lake, Sullivan represented District 4, which includes portions of Ham Lake, Nowthen and Oak Grove, a large part of Andover and the northeastern section of Ramsey.
“I want to thank the voters,” Sullivan said during the meeting. “I will be forever grateful for their trust and confidence.”
Sullivan praised his colleagues on current and past boards, as well as district staff.
They returned the admiration.
Superintendent Dennis Carlson, one of five Anoka-Hennepin superintendents with whom Sullivan has worked, attributes much of Anoka-Hennepin’s current success to Sullivan’s “laser-like focus on student learning.”
Board Chairperson Tom Heidemann, who took over the role from Sullivan eight years ago, regrets to see him go.
“I’m going to really miss him as a colleague on the board,” he said. “I think he was a very calm, reasoned voice for kids.”
Sullivan thinks the board as a whole does a wonderful job of keeping its priorities straight. “It has always focused on the kids first,” he said, and he does not anticipate that will change after his departure.
“It’s a big hole that needs to be filled,” Carlson said.
William Fields of Andover will assume Sullivan’s seat Jan. 13. Fields won the election in District 4 with 53 percent of the vote this November.
The board Nov. 25 agreed to name its work room at the Sandburg Education Center in Sullivan’s honor.
Olivia Koester is at firstname.lastname@example.org