Northridge Local School District board member Brent Garee stepped down from his seat April 18, telling the board that he believed as a teacher, he faced too many conflicts with necessary board duties.

Northridge Local School District board member Brent Garee stepped down from his seat April 18, telling the board that he believed as a teacher, he faced too many conflicts with necessary board duties.

Garee, whose wife recently became a teacher in the Northridge district, said he felt he was too often obligated to abstain from important decisions.

"Since S.B. 5 passed and I am a teacher, I refuse to be a part of what I see coming down the road," Garee said. "Since it does give the board so much power, the board needs to be made up of people who do not have that conflict."

Garee said he understood others have a different view, but he felt the two roles were inconsistent.

"I know there are teachers who would disagree, but I just did not feel comfortable with that," Garee said. "With the financial situation schools are going to be in, boards are going to have to make some tough decisions that will impact education, and I really want no part of that, being a teacher."

Garee, who teaches high school English at Southwest Licking, is married to Kim Garee, who began teaching at Northridge this year.

"A second reason, just as strong if not stronger, is that my wife is a teacher (at Northridge), and I did not feel comfortable voting on important decisions because of that," Garee said. "I felt that was a conflict, and my integrity would not allow me to do that."

Garee said required abstentions from votes were becoming more common.

"It was coming up, I bet, every other meeting. I would abstain on something that would affect her or her administrators or other teachers," Garee said. "That's going to be more and more common under S.B. 5, and the community deserves to have someone who can vote on every issue."

Garee, who was elected to the board in 2009 and who had served an appointed term before that, said he has a different perspective on board members than he did before he joined the board.

"I give all elected officials now the benefit of the doubt," Garee said. "I think it's real easy to sit there and play politics from the armchair of your couch, but when you get in there and you know all the facts and what you can and cannot do, things look a lot different from that perspective."

When it comes to state funding for schools, Garee said he would prefer to pool business taxes and move away from property tax funding.

"The state absolutely needs to address school funding," Garee said. "States around us have come up with realistic, concrete ways to reform school funding. Basically, they take all the tier 2 money, from industry and things like that, and pool it into a major pot so you can spread it more evenly. In Michigan, they have less property tax and more sales tax."

Treasurer Jim Hudson said the board would probably act within a month to fill the vacant seat.

"We have a policy we follow for a vacancy, where the board asks interested candidates to submit a resume and letter of interest to the board president," Hudson said. "They'll go through an interview process. I would expect they'll probably fill the seat by the end of May."

The appointee will fill Garee's term through the end of 2013.

Both Garee and Hudson emphasized that Garee supports the May 3 income tax levy.

Garee said he has been voicing his concerns about his board position for some time.

"It was not a surprise to them. I know sometimes when you come across someone resigning, there are secondhand things going on. This is completely what it is, I just don't feel comfortable sitting on the board any more.

"I've been a community member for 40 years, and I love this place and I love the people, and they deserve (someone who can vote on all issues)."

Application for the board vacancy may be made by sending a letter of interest and resume to: Board president Mark Dann, Northridge Local School District, 6097 Johnstown-Utica Road Johnstown 43031.