By Oliver Lazenby
After 40 years, the Blaine School Board’s longest serving member’s 10th and final term has come to an end.
Since he was first elected in 1977, Mike Dodd, now 70, has seen a lot change in the district. Since his first term, he’s served on the board through four different superintendents, the student population has nearly doubled, and school funding formulas, policy and budgeting have grown ever more complicated. He’s overseen construction work on every district building, and many new ones arose in that time.
That longevity gave him a long-term perspective that made him a calming and stabilizing force on the school board, Dodd’s colleagues said at his last board meeting on November 27.
“Every one of the board members I’ve worked with has looked to Mike for direction, leadership and perspective,” superintendent Ron Spanjer said. “It’s pretty uniquely significant to have someone with that breadth of experience in that role.”
Dodd ran for reelection in November but lost to Laura McKinney, who won 68 percent of the votes. McKinney will be sworn onto the school board at its Tuesday, December 12 meeting.
Dodd said he contemplated not running for reelection, thinking 40 years was long enough, but friends talked him into it. He’s OK with the outcome.
“I’m happy with it,” Dodd said. “I think Laura is probably going to do a really good job. I don’t know her that well but she has kids in school and is very involved from what I understand, so I think she’ll probably do a great job.”
The Dodd family’s history of community involvement inspired Dodd to run for school board originally, he said.
His father Harold “Bud” Dodd had served on the school board and city council, in addition to running his business, Blaine Marina, Inc. Mike Dodd had coached Little League sports and been involved with Blaine Booster Club before joining the school board.
Dodd’s wife taught home economics at Blaine High School in the 1970s, so when he heard about a possible opening on the school board in 1977, “it seemed like the thing to do,” he said.
The school board’s commitment to the district stood out to Dodd in his time on the board. Everyone on it wanted the best for the district, and members didn’t have agendas or a narrow focus on a single issue, Dodd said.
“I enjoyed a lot about it. The interaction with the other board members — there are some really great people I’ve met on the board,” he said. “We’ve had super administrative people and I think our teaching staff overall has been very, very good.”
Perhaps more importantly, Dodd enjoyed doing what was best for kids in the district.
“To do this for four decades is testimony to how much Mike has valued children in this community,” Spanjer said. “What’s best for kids — that’s something I’ve seen Mike value time and time again,”
Dodd ran unopposed during his time in office and he took that as a good sign and kept at it. By the end, Dodd’s deep knowledge of the district made him a leader.
“In my 12 years of working with Mike I found him to be a very stabilizing force on the board,” Spanjer said. “He’s highly respected, and a very practical, measured and genuine individual. There’s no confusion as to what Mike stands for.”
Prioritizing students wasn’t always easy, especially when it came to making tough decisions about staff members, Dodd said.
“The hardest things for me were the personnel decisions,” he said. “Being such a small town, knowing almost everybody, those were tough. But on the other hand it once again comes back to what was best for the kids and for the district at the time.”
Compared to firing people, decisions about policy and curriculum were straight forward, Dodd said.
Dodd retired and shut down Blaine Marina Inc., two years ago but has stayed busy. He expects to find plenty to do with his extra free time.
Dodd has an office and workshop in the industrial area of Blaine Harbor where he spent his working life. He helps out at Sound Pacific Seafoods, occasionally helping with buying crab and other tasks.
When they don’t need help, he builds cardboard-hulled models of commercial fishing boats that have a connection to Blaine Harbor. He’s built boats for commission, but mostly does it as a hobby.
And when he’s not doing that, he’s reminiscing about the height of the local fishery with old friends who stop by his office.
Maybe now Dodd’s colleagues from the school district will stop by to reminisce as well.