Steve Smith, president of the board of education, resigned his presidency at Thursday's meeting held at Crestview Middle School in Ellisville. Smith stated he intended to complete his term as an elected member of the board, however.
"While I am honored and humbled to have been selected by my fellow board members as president, this position is not my priority," Smith stated in his resignation letter. "My priority is honoring the trust placed in me by our voters to serve our students, staff and community."
In the letter, Smith said his only motivation for serving on the board was to ensure the welfare of the district's more than 22,000 students. "We know students need a learning environment that is safe, secure, comfortable and equipped with the latest technology. The Rockwood School District uses funds from no tax increase bond issues to help provide that environment. Our community has historically supported those bond issues," he said.
"It would be a disaster if some people's opinions about my role as board president jeopardized this support."
Smith previously served on the Rockwood board of education from 1989 to 1995. He was appointed in 2003 to fill Judy Dungan's position until a 2004 election. He also was appointed in 2010 to fill Rao Kaza's position until the April 2011 election, in which he was elected to serve until 2014.
At Thursday's meeting, Smith said he believed the district has achieved much for the students, due to the people employed there. "They have done so with relatively low pay and old curricula. While I believe we cannot seek a levy increase now to address those issues, the board appears to be reconsidering a decision on a potential 2012 bond issue," he stated.
"Some people expressed concerns about my being the board president while working for the company that has provided program management services for the district's bond issue projects. Today, I remove that concern."
Smith is employed by Glenn Construction, starting in 2004.
Smith said if a bond issue is put forward, he hoped the people who expressed concerns about his position as board president will demonstrate their concern for the children in the district and support the bond issue.
Board Vice President Janet Strate said she was sad to see Smith resign. "I know you have put a great deal of thought into your decision," she said to Smith during the meeting.
"It has been an honor to serve as vice president with you," she said, addressing Smith. "You have led by example — being honest, caring and fair; and making sure that each board member's thoughts were carefully considered."
Strate said those who knew Smith and who have worked with him over the years know in their hearts that he always has had the best interest of all Rockwood students at the heart of all his decisions.
She called Smith "a person of integrity."
Per Rockwood board of education bylaws, Strate will serve as president until board members meet again on Jan. 5; at that meeting, they plan to vote to reorganize board officer positions.