For the past 40 years, Albert (Bud) Parenteau has been a fixture of the Williams Unified School District Governing Board.
During his time on the board, Parenteau served as president about eight to 10 times. On Jan. 8, the board elected Parenteau as its president one more time. This year will be his last on the board.
The community first elected Parenteau to the school board in 1975. At that time Parenteau was working in Williams as a technician for the telephone company, and four of his five children attended school in Williams, ranging from fourth grade to kindergarten.
Parenteau said he decided to run for the school board because of his "passion for kids" and because he "wanted to help the kids."
Parenteau continued serving on the board after his own children, and eventually grandchildren, had graduated. However, his decision to continue serving on the school board was never just about his own children.
"The main reason is there's too many things that had been going on as my terms expired that I wanted to see continue on," he said. "And I could probably say the same about right now, because we have an awesome administration now and I hate to say, 'Hey, I'm going to leave when everything's starting to look really, really good,' but it's time for somebody else to take over. I'll hand the baton over to somebody else."
Throughout his four decades on the board, Parenteau has seen many challenges and successes. School finances have been a struggle for the majority of Parenteau's tenure on the school board, tied to the fluctuating student population.
On the other hand, the biggest accomplishments Parenteau saw during his time on the board were the construction of the new elementary-middle school in about 1976 and construction of the vocational education building at the high school in about 2003.
"They are shining examples of what we can do for the kids," he said.
Aside from the board's achievements, the best part about serving on the school board for Parenteau is seeing the students' achievements.
"I think the thing that has the most meaning for me and that happens every year is whenever I hand the diplomas to the students," Parenteau said. "And I handed them to five of my own kids and two grand kids, so that was kind of a neat thing to do."
Parenteau has a simple goal this year as school board president: "Just to keep moving forward and find some way to help show some of the students that may not get the support they need the importance of getting their education and being in school," he said.
Parenteau thanked the community for its support during the last 40 years.
"You have to listen to what they have to say, including the children," he said. "There's many times when they'll say something that no one's ever thought of, and that makes a difference."
Williams Unified School District Superintendent Rachel Savage said Parenteau deserves to be recognized for his time on the board.
"He has made a tremendous difference in our schools and he is also wonderful in the way that he gives of himself all of the time, even beyond the school board, by participating in civic groups and volunteering in every way that he can for the youth of the community," she said.
Savage added that Parenteau is a good example of how time and dedication can positively influence local youth.
"It's a lot of commitment and sometimes it's not fun, and having to make those difficult decisions is disheartening, but he does it for the kids," she said. "He has always advocated for the kids, he helps the board keep its focus on why we're doing what we're doing and he's just a true leader and just a phenomenal individual, and it's my honor to serve with him."
Parenteau's last school board term ends on Dec. 31.
"There's some sadness there too, because I still have the passion for the kids, I still want to help the kids and see what we can do to make them have a good education. But I'm also glad to see that there's interest in the school board now," Parenteau said, adding that more people are running for the positions now than did at times in the past.
Although Parenteau's time on the school board is coming to an end, he plans to stay actively involved with the schools. Parenteau will still be a part of "the chain gang," the volunteers who move the chains during high school football games, which he has done for more than 30 years. He'll also continue taking tickets at school sporting events and serving on Kiwanis, a service organization that focuses on helping children.
"I'm not retired even though they say so," he said. "The only thing is I don't get a paycheck, that's all. And I'm having fun doing it. I'm not going to give up on the kids. You haven't seen the last of me."
Posted: Monday, February 10, 2014
Article comment by:
Bud and Barb you are two very amazing people. Thank you for everything you two have done for everyone. We miss you guys and hope you guys have a great future together.
Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014
Article comment by:
In my 32 years in education I have had the pleasure of working with some great Board members. Bud is at the top of the list ! Williams has been very lucky to have such a man working for their children and will miss his leadership .
Donny Bridges Past Principal WEMS
Posted: Tuesday, February 4, 2014
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Congratulations Bud and Barbara. We all know it takes a great partnership for the contributions you have made to the Williams community and youth. Thanks for your service.