School board member Julie McKnight is ready to walk awayThirteen years ago, it seemed like just about everyone knew Julie McKnight was running for a seat on Farmington’s school board before she knew herself.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
Thirteen years ago, it seemed like just about everyone knew Julie McKnight was running for a seat on Farmington’s school board before she knew herself.
McKnight, who will end her board career this year, would go to the grocery store and someone would say, “I hear you’re running for school board.” She’d get a call from her sister who had heard the same thing. She got the news from so many people, she figured she might as well run.
The idea wasn’t entirely strange. McKnight had been a member and president of the parent council at Farmington Elementary School. Her mother had served on the school board for 12 years, and McKnight had long believed it was important to be active in the community.
So, she ran. And she won. And then she kept on running and winning.
“I just feel like people should be involved in whatever is important to them,” McKnight said.
She served at a time when it wasn’t always an easy time to be on the board. Farmington has seen tremendous growth in the time McKnight has served. The building that now houses Riverview Elementary School opened just before she started, and the district has added Meadowview Elementary School and a new high school in the years since.
The process of building that high school had some particularly rocky times. There was a lawsuit against the city of Farmington and a sometimes heated debate over a plan that would have added a sports complex to the building. There were times over the years McKnight wondered what she had gotten herself into.
“When it’s long hours and lots of frustrations, it’s really easy to go, ‘Really? Do I need this?” But that’s just based on an emotion of the moment,” she said.
When it came time to file for election again, those emotions always took a back seat to McKnight’s desire to be involved.
There have been plenty of benefits to being on the board, too. McKnight got to hand diplomas to her own children as well as to several nieces and nephews. And as she steps away from the board, she feels like she is leaving the district in a good place. A survey presented to board members last week suggests the community has a more positive view of the district than it did five years ago, the last time the district asked for resident opinions.
“For me, what really stands out is getting the district together in a strategic direction all moving forward toward the same goal,” she said.
The district is in the process of refreshing a strategic plan put in place five years ago. McKnight said many districts haven’t yet implemented even one strategic plan.
There was no single event that convinced McKnight it was time to be done with her school board role. She just decided it was time to move on to something else. She is active in planning Farmington’s Dew Days celebration, taking on responsibility for organizing the festival’s parade. One way or another, she expects to be involved in the community.
“I’m always running,” she said. “My life seems to be very scheduled and very full. When you take out school board you’d think I should have plenty of free time. I’m not sure what it will fill up with, but I know it will fill up.”