Van Dunham announced Tuesday he plans to resign from the Gilbert Unified School District governing board because he is moving out of the district.
Gilbert district officials are now busy coming up with deadlines and ways to complete the new process of filling a board vacancy.
Dunham is finishing his seventh year on the board. He said he will resign Nov. 11.
Although he had intended to stay on the board and run again for a third term, Dunham and his wife, Cynthia, plan to take care of her ailing parents. The couple found a home in Gilbert in the Higley Unified School District that fits their needs. Her parents, who are in their 80s, are moving from Utah.
Cynthia Dunham, a former mayor of Gilbert, is the founder and CEO of the Leadership Center.
Because Van Dunham will be living outside of the Gilbert school district boundaries, he can no longer be on the Gilbert board.
"I love the Gilbert district," said Dunham, 60, whose four children graduated from Gilbert High School and whose two grandchildren are now in the district. "I'm honored by the residents that allowed me to serve in this capacity for the last seven years."
Dunham has a year left on his term.
Board president Thad Stump said the announcement wasn't a surprise because board members knew of Dunham's situation.
"We are all going to miss him, and we are all grateful for his contributions of his service on the board," Stump said Thursday. "We understand his situation and wish him the best with it."
The task to fill a board vacancy is now up to local school districts, a process Dunham said he "really likes."
"I'm excited about the new process," Dunham said. "I'm just sad I had to be the one to test it out."
The new collaborative nomination process was set in place by Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools Donald Covey in January after receiving advice from several education organizations.
Now, interested candidates apply directly to their school district.
Before the new rules, interested candidates applied to the county school superintendent, who then appointed a new board member to fill a vacancy. Districts didn't have much choice in the matter, other than making their own suggestions.
Now a team made up of the superintendent, the school board president and the president of the local teachers association will choose a nominee and two alternates for the position.
Stump said he likes the idea that the district has a significant say in who the replacement board member is, as opposed to the old process.
"It does put a lot of responsibility on the district to do this, although I welcome that responsibility on behalf of the district," Stump said.
The selected candidates will then attend a five-hour Saturday seminar on Nov. 14, which means the team will not have a lot of time before choosing its suggested board candidates. Members of the district's collaboration team, along with several local education groups and Covey, will meet the candidates and interview and evaluate them.
"Anyone who applies should be available Nov. 14," Stump said. "That is our goal. We do not want this seat to sit vacant."
Within the next week after the seminar, Covey will decide who will fill the vacancy.
The Gilbert district has had three appointed school board members in the past several years. Lily Tram, who was appointed in April 2008 to fill a vacancy, won re-election to the board in November.
District officials expect by Monday to have decided deadlines and where to send applications, said district spokeswoman Dianne Bowers.
Anyone interested in serving on the board should call (480) 497-3342. For information on the new nomination procedures, visit www.maricopa.gov/schools/pdf/elections/se_elect_appointment_process.pdf.