Impacting education

Education has always been a part of Dr. Ed Hill’s career. His term
wrapped up on the Cambridge-Isanti School Board last month, and ended a
51-year career in education following college. 

Rachel Kytonen
[email protected]

Education has always been a part of Dr. Ed Hill’s career. His term wrapped up on the Cambridge-Isanti School Board last month, and ended a 51-year career in education following college.

Hill served eight years on the Cambridge-Isanti School Board, which was his first time serving in a political office. He opted to not file for re-election this past November.

“I decided to run for the school board eight years ago because I viewed it as an opportunity to help students,” Hill said last week.

His career in education began in the fall of 1959 when he began student teaching, followed by substitute teaching in the winter of 1960.

“In one way or another, I’ve been in education since 1959,” Hill said. “I almost quit school in the ninth-grade when I saw how much money my cousin was earning because he was working and had a car.”

Hill came to Cambridge in 1975, and served as assistant superintendent of Cambridge-Isanti Schools for 24 years. He was elected to the school board in November 2002, and served as its chair the past two years.

“When I served as assistant superintendent, I attended all the board meetings, so I was familiar with the process,” Hill said. “In my eight years on the board, I never missed a meeting.”

When Hill started as assistant superintendent, board meetings tended to last anywhere from three to four hours. The past two years board meetings averaged about two hours.

“During my years on the school board, I felt the board members were very hard-working in terms of reading materials and understanding agenda topics,” Hill said. “The board members always came prepared, and would call me or the superintendent ahead of time if they wanted more information on an item.”

As far as his philosophy, Hill always looked out for the students.

“I always looked at how a decision would impact the learning of students,” he said.

Hill said one of the best decisions the board made during his tenure was the hiring of Superintendent Bruce Novak. When Hill was a junior high principal in Foley, he actually had Superintendent Novak as a student.

“During our hiring of a superintendent, the school board knew we had to pick a top-notch person, and Superintendent Novak is,” Hill said. “If there’s a challenging situation, Superintendent Novak will face it head-on. He’s not afraid of adversity.”

Hill also played a vital role in the location of the new Isanti Intermediate School.

“The school board was looking at sites for the new Isanti Intermediate School, and the Long Range Facilities Committee was looking at sites on the north side of Co. Rd. 5, just east of Isanti,” Hill explained. “Due to the lay of the land, I kept thinking the south side of Co. Rd. 5 would be better, and we were able to work it out with the developer.”

Hill enjoyed his time on the school board.

“I’m proud of the work I did on the school board, and proud of all the board members I worked with,” Hill said. “The board always looked at the positives and negatives in each situation.“I would have a lot of sleepless nights when the school board had to make decisions that had a negative impact on the students. It’s hard to cut staff and programs.”

A sad day for Hill was the passing of long-time school board member Dick Hardy.

“He was a good colleague, educator and friend,” Hill said. “He and I would always have good conversations about parliamentary procedure.”

One aspect of the board Hill prided himself on was trying to make policies consistent.

“I would read every district policy, and would realize we were often being inconsistently, inconsistent,” Hill said. “A lot of inconsistencies would have to do with policies written up by lawyers, and the capitalization and punctuation would often be inconsistent. I would always read over all agenda items with extreme care, and would sit down with the superintendent to go over things before each meeting.”

Hill always felt board members should be treated with respect.

“One thing I would try not to do is make someone look bad in front of the public,” he said.

Overall, Hill enjoyed his time on the board.

“Serving on the school board was an enjoyable experience for me,” Hill said. “I hope at least one student benefited from something I did while serving on the school board.”