In 1993, the Gilbert Unified School District had 14 schools and less than 13,000 students. Since then, the district has opened 25 schools and grown to 38,000 students
But during that time, at least one constant remained: governing board member Linda Rollans.
Now Rollans has left the elected position she held for 14 years.
Rollans resigned, effective Dec. 31, because of family commitments and changes in her work schedule at U.S. Airways.
She became involved in education when her oldest son went to kindergarten, joining the Islands Elementary School PTO prior to being elected to the governing board.
“I thought the best way to be involved with (my children) away from me was to be involved with their education,” she said.
Her children — Matthew, Mark, Megan and Melissa — all attended Gilbert schools and Melissa, the youngest, graduated from Mesquite High School last year.
As a parent, Rollans said she was always conscious of how the board’s decisions would affect her children.
She was also passionate about teacher salaries and would figure out how much the teachers would take home each week after taxes and if it was enough to rent an apartment in Gilbert.
The budget decisions were difficult when the district was opening new schools and sometimes hiring 300 additional teachers a year to keep up with growth, she said.
“We had to make sure we had desks for our kids to sit in,” she said.
Rollans said she enjoyed her years on the board, and will miss events like graduations and state and regional athletic competitions.
“It was a growing experience for me,” she said. “Whatever I contributed, I got back tenfold.”
Helen Hollands, who just began her seventh year on the board, said she learned several things from Rollans.
“Linda thinks with her head and her heart at the same time,” she said. “She’s always conscious of the impact on families.”
Hollands said one of Rollans’ biggest contributions was in the area of construction, when the board approved a design for new elementary schools that the district still uses today, making the process of opening new schools natural and manageable.
Superintendent Brad Barrett said Rollans provided steadiness and consistency at a time when the governing board experienced a lot of turnover and the district opened a number of new schools and hired new administrators.
“(There was) a lot of pressure on the district (with) changes not just in schools, but the community,” Barrett said. “As everything else was changing, there was always Linda.”
Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools Sandra Dowling is accepting letters of interest from people interested in filling the remainder of Linda Rollans’ term on the Gilbert Unified School District governing board.
Term expires: Dec. 31, 2008.
Requirements: Resident of Gilbert district for at least one year and registered to vote in Arizona.
Not eligible: District employees and their spouses.
To apply: Send letter of interest, resume, and letters of community support to Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools, 4041 N. Central Ave., Suite 1100, Phoenix, AZ 85012, or fax (602) 506-3753, attention Hope Olguin.
Deadline: 5 p.m. Jan. 25.