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Jeffco school board selects former board member to fill vacant seat

An outdoor sign saying “Jeffco Public Schools Building 27”
The Jeffco school board will swear in a new member Wednesday.
Chalkbeat file photo

The Jeffco School board voted Tuesday night to appoint Rick Rush, a former school board member, to fill a vacant position.

The board interviewed eight applicants, and ultimately favored Rush’s past experience on the board and his priorities, which board members said align with what the current board wants to work on. The vote was unanimous.

“He could hit the ground running at a time when we all know there is just so much and it’s all important,” said Susan Harmon, the board’s president. “We are jumping into budget discussions tomorrow. I can’t overlook that.”

Rush previously filled a Jeffco board vacancy from 2008 to 2009. He ran to continue serving on the board, but lost the election in 2009 to Paula Noonan. This time, Rush will serve the remainder of the term until November, when voters would determine the next board member. Rush said he may consider running next year to continue serving, but has not committed to it.

Rush, who is a consultant, described himself as semi-retired, most recently from his role as executive director and chief actuary for Kaiser Permanente Colorado. He has served on several committees and boards in the school district as well as with outside organizations such as the on the board for YMCA of Metro Denver.

During his interview, Rush identified creating trust with the community, making the district an “employer of choice,” and increasing student enrollment as three priorities for the Jeffco district.

“I’m looking for the right ways to advance ourselves and create programs that make students and families want to stay here and want to come here,” Rush said.

Among the pressing work the board faces in the coming months is hiring a new superintendent, and continuing to navigate the pandemic including school closures and reopenings.

Former board member Ron Mitchell resigned last month citing health and family reasons, leaving a vacancy for Jeffco’s District 5, which includes the southern part of the district bordering Denver and Arapahoe County.

Rush will be sworn in prior to a board meeting Wednesday.

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