Andrea and Bill Sanborn Photo by J.P. Crumrine

Tuesday, June 18, was Bill Sanborn’s last Hemet Unified School District board meeting representing Idyllwild for 22 years. His colleagues praised and thanked him for his work on the board and held a reception for him.

“I’ll miss it and these people and being part of something,” said Sanborn. “It really matters.”

In April, Sanborn announced his intention to resign his school board post effective July 1.

Sanborn and his wife, Andrea, have their home on the market and plan to return to Minnesota.

Alex, their youngest son, graduated from Hemet High School in May, and will matriculate to Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minn. and play football. His parents will follow him. Their new abode is about two hours from the football stadium.

Alex, Ben, Emily and Kelsey, their children, all attended HUSD schools, including Idyllwild.

Sanborn’s relationships with the multiple colleagues during his years as a trustee are some of the benefits of the job, Sanborn said. “When it’s good and you respect each other, it’s great. While we haven’t always agreed, it was OK to disagree. It’s a democracy.”

He modestly accepted the board’s praise, stressing that he was always a member of the team and the team’s mission was to support the children.

Respect for the public and its views stands out as Sanborn talks about his work on the board and with the district. For example, when asked about specific accomplishments, he immediately discussed HUSD”s new board room. The room seats several hundred people, with the board dais in the front and modern audio-visual technology.

“It’s as big as it is because the old board room was about a quarter of the size and people would have to stand outside of it,” he said. It is used almost daily for meetings, training and other sessions. Sanborn served on many board committees, but it was his contributions as a member of the Facilities Committee that he describes.

“I’m not an educator or attorney,” Sanborn, an engineer, explained. “One thing I do know is building and engineering, so I can add my 2 cents there.” A manifestation of his Midwest heritage is noticeable when he adds, “I’d rather do it right the first time than change it in five years.”

Reminiscing on his tenure, Sanborn admitted that he won’t miss the drama. He felt some disagreements became too personal, but he accepted the public’s right to vent beyond the substance of the issue. He also acknowledged occasionally the board’s closed sessions would highlight people’s capability of doing “really silly things sometimes,” but he didn’t supply any examples.

Over the two decades, Sanborn worked with six different superintendents and admired all of them. “Each superintendent had their own strengths and each was different.”

Former Superintendent Dr. Phil Pendley was a true team builder, according to Sanborn. And Dr. Steve Lowder, who followed Pendley, focused the district on curriculum in his brief tenure.

“He got us on track with the Common Core [State Standards] and we’re about a year ahead of other districts,” Sanborn said proudly.

But all the work, all the meetings, all the relationships would not have been possible without the help of Andrea, Sanborn emphasized. “The unsung heroes of the school board are the spouses,” he said to his colleagues after accepting their accolades. “She really sacrificed to allow me to do all of this.”

Sanborn was appointed to the school board in September 1991 to replace Dwight “Buzz” Holmes, who resigned to take a position with Idyllwild School. Sanborn was one of six candidates for the vacancy. During his more than 20 years as a trustee, he has served as HUSD president five times. His last term as president ended in December 2012.