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St. Helens School Board chair resigns

Other members will decide who takes over board post

Twenty minutes after accepting the chair position at last week's St. Helens School Board meeting, Benita Saatvedt abruptly announced her intention to resign from the board.

After the board meeting, Saatvedt said her decision was based on logistics. She'll be moving out of the school district in the fall, she said. That won't come to pass until October, leaving Saatvedt's resignation essentially open-ended until that time.

Saatvedt left her resignation open-ended to assist the school board with filling the position, she said. At the same meeting, the district welcomed its two newest school board members, Ray Biggs and Marshall Porter.

Board members Alan King and Nathan Helwig, along with Saatvedt, are the holdover members from last year's school board. Both men were also nominated for the school board's chair position, but those motions were not seconded, which Saatvedt says was partly due to personality conflicts between the three senior-most board members.

Saatvedt said she didn't get along with King or Helwig - last year's board chair - believing they too often publicly dismissed her ideas and talked over her during meetings.

'Having worked with both, I couldn't nominate either as board chair,' she said.

King, the school board's vice chair, said he was aware of Saatvedt's feelings but said he didn't understand why she harbored them.

'I don't feel there's any basis for [the animosity],' he said.

Collectively, members of the school board will decide who takes Saatvedt's position. No applicants have formally applied to the position.

Saatvedt's replacement will join a changing school district struggling with long-standing budget problems.

Cutting costs while maintaining educational standards for the school district, which slashed its budget by $1.6 million for the upcoming school year, will remain the board's top priority, King said.