For the first time in five years, the leadership of the Bend-La Pine School Board will be shared, instead of being run by a chairperson and vice chair.

At a board retreat Tuesday morning, the school board unanimously voted to appoint Julie Craig and Carrie Douglass as co-chairs for one school year. Next summer, the board will choose whether to continue with Craig and Douglass — or other members — as co-chairs, or to return to using a chairperson and vice chair.

Former board member Andy High previously served as the board’s chairperson for two school years.

Craig and Douglass, who have served on the board since 2012 and 2017, respectively, are two of only three returning Bend-La Pine board members. Four newcomers were elected in May to the seven-member board. They were officially sworn in Tuesday.

Inexperience among the new members was the reason Craig and Douglass were given co-leadership roles.

“We see it as a little bit of a transition year, knowing that four of you are new, and it would be hard to put you into a leadership role immediately,” Douglass told the board Tuesday morning.

After the meeting, Craig said she preferred having her and Douglass serve as co-chairs because it allows them to evenly split the duties of a traditional chairperson, including speaking to the media, being the public’s main contact point and leading board meetings. Furthermore, the duo would have equal stature, Craig said.

“If you have co-chairs of the title, that tends to hold a different weight,” she said. “That allows us to divide the chair responsibilities and still have the same authority.”

The last time Bend-La Pine had co-chairs was in the 2014-15 school year, when former board members Cheri Helt and Nori Juba shared the title. According to Craig, this was so one of the two could handle the intensive superintendent search going on at the time, and the other could lead in the chairperson’s other responsibilities.

— Reporter: 541-617-7854,