School board member Lynn Desmarais announced she will leave her position after this term, leaving an open school board seat this election season. Photo courtesy of the Renton School District.

School board member Lynn Desmarais announced she will leave her position after this term, leaving an open school board seat this election season. Photo courtesy of the Renton School District.

Long-time school board director ready to hang up hat after December

Lynn Desmarais reflects on 18 years of school advocacy

After 18 years on the Renton School District’s Board of Directors, director Lynn Desmarais has announced she will leave after her term ends in December 2019. Hers is one of three school board positions up for election this year.

“Four years is a big commitment, it’s just time for somebody else to have the opportunity to serve and experience,” Desmarais said.

Desmarais first joined the board in 2001 while her children attended Renton Park Elementary School, Nelsen Middle School and Lindbergh High School.

Desmarais felt it was an exciting moment for education in the district, with all the schools undergoing renovations, No Child Left Behind legislation and implementing the WASL testing. Test result requirement changes at the time was a difficult process that have since then moved in a sensible direction, she said.

At the time she expected things to grow repetitive, but said there is still a sense of anticipation almost two decades later.

Desmarais is proud to be part of the team that created Albert Talley Senior High School, combining the former Black River and Sartori alternative high school programs. She also saw the creation of Meadow Crest Early Learning Center.

The support of voters is what has made the infrastructure at Renton Schools “second to none” Desmarais said, adding that in the last 20 years every district school has seen construction or remodeling.

Superintendent Damien Pattenaude said Desmarais’ 18 years on the school board are marked with distinction. She has seen several superintendents through her time with the district.

“Her commitment to the students, families and staff of the Renton School District serves as an example of leadership that we should all aspire to as members of this community,” Pattenaude said.

Potential new board members should know that this is a significant time commitment, and includes both big picture responsibilities and detailed district policy work.

School board members are expected to have an active presence in the community before joining, and to come in with the intention to work as a team, Demarais said.

Desmarais has served as the Parent Teacher Assosciation (PTA) president for all three schools her children attended, president of the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) council and chair of district-wide Reflections art contest and PTA Council’s Founders Day celebration fundraiser.

She sees the board as not only decision makers, but as the voice of the community and taxpayers in the district. In the end, she said, the graduation day for high schoolers is the board’s reward.

Desmarais feels like as they prepare for Class of 2019 graduations, she’s graduating too.

“Being a school board director is an important work, and it’s been my honor and a privilege to serve in this role for so many years,” she said.

Desmarais said after her time on the board is up, she plans to continue to work as a board member of Communities in Schools and the Lindbergh High School Scholarship Committee. She said she has seen a lot of progress in the district that will continue over time.

As of press time, two candidates have filed for Desmarais’ position, Stefanie McIrvin and Jeremy Chambers, according to the King County website.

In a press release, McIrvin stated Desmarais has “worked tirelessly to help improve education in Renton Schools.” McIrvin has worked at Renton Technical College for the past five years.

The Reporter did not receive comment from Chambers as of press time.

Candidates have until Friday, May 17 to file with the King County Elections Office.

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