Let’s pause for a moment to tip the cap to Dave Colburn.

He’s not running for another term on the school board, after serving for 16 years. That makes him one of the longest-serving members in the history of the school board. He’s helped lead the district through several substantial changes, including major construction projects and the hiring of top executives.

He has done so with a good sense of when to speak strongly and when to ease up. That’s not always easy for school board members, who tend to become lobbyists for increased state spending, for totally understandable reasons.

Mr. Colburn did speak out strongly at the time of the Brownback administration’s tax-cutting policy that threatened support for public schools, and in our view that was appropriate. On the other hand, he did not yammer on and become shrill. He consistently had the good sense to realize that he was representing taxpayers as well as students.

Part of that’s just his nature — he believes in moderation, and he sees nuance and shades of gray, and he tends to zig when others zag. During the mascot debate, he was able to find compromise, but he was also gutsy enough to point out extremism on both sides.

He’s been through redistricting, and hiring superintendents and principals, and the infamous beatdown matter involving the high school football program, and has helped the district tremendously as it shifted from shrinking to growing. All while keeping a level head.

Incidentally, it’s worth noting that the nonpartisan nature of school board races helps a person like Mr. Colburn stay in office. You don’t have to blather the party’s talking points to win an election, and then force yourself into an ideological box. We think that’s been a real strength of both the local school board and the City Commission over the years.

All of this is to say that we’ll miss Mr. Colburn, and his approach, when his time on the board runs out. The school district, and our community, have truly benefited from his service.

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