Tim O'Neill, a Merced Union High School District trustee for more than six years, is resigning June 30 to devote more time to his business.
The other four trustees on the board will discuss O'Neill's resignation at their June 8 meeting. They can either schedule a special election to fill his term, which ends in 2014, or fill the position by appointment.
"I'm in shock," trustee Ida Johnson said. "He's been an asset to our board. He did a wonderful job and will be sorely missed. I didn't always agree with him but we got along wonderfully."
O'Neill, who turned 55 on Tuesday, said he came to the conclusion that this is the time in his career when he must devote 100 percent of his time and efforts to building his business so he and his wife will have financial security in retirement.
He has lived in Merced since 1988 and owns Image Masters, a firm that does embroidery, screen printing and other promotional products.
"There is no STRS retirement plan for entrepreneurs," O'Neill said. "There is no good time to step aside during the middle of a term, but my experience has been that the summer is a slower period for board business and this timing should allow the board the opportunity to appoint a replacement before board business ramps up again in the fall."
Trustee Mike Carpenter said the board has been a cohesive group and O'Neill has been a large part of that. He speculated that the board probably will appoint O'Neill's replacement rather than hold a costly special election.
"That's heartbreaking news. He's been great to work with," Carpenter said. "He's been a mentor to me on educational issues and I'm going to miss him as part of our team."
Superintendent Scott Scambray said O'Neill has been passionate about education and technology, spending a considerable amount of time on district issues.
"It's a loss for the board," Scambray said. "He brought a perspective of the business world that was needed."
O'Neill served one term on the McSwain school board before he was appointed to replace John Pedrozo on the MUHSD board. In 2009, he was elected to a four-year term.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve this district for the past 6½ years," O'Neill said. "I am very proud of the progress that the district has made during that time and I am particularly pleased with how much of that progress has taken place since you joined the district three short years ago," O'Neill wrote to Scambray.
O'Neill said that despite challenging economic times, the district is poised for much continued success. He said student achievement has never been higher and local campuses look great.
"Our technology infrastructure has gone from embarrassing to being a model for the rest of the state in just six short years," O'Neill said.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or email@example.com.