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Nicole Austin resigns from school board; Former RISD president says need to balance priorities is reason for resignation

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The remaining members of the Roswell school board will move quickly to fill a seat vacated by Nicole R. Austin following her unexpected Friday morning resignation.

Austin

Mona Kirk, vice president of the Roswell Independent School District Board of Education, indicated in an email that board members intend to find someone for the District 2 seat within 45 days.
The seat will be filled by someone living within the boundaries of District 2 in the northwest section of the city.
Less than six months after running successfully for the seat, Austin released a statement through the school district announcing her decision to resign, citing a need to balance the priorities of her life.
“The three priorities in my life are my faith, my family and my career,” the statement read. “I have found that I cannot give the time and effort needed to be an effective board member and remain dedicated to my priorities. Because of this, I must step aside.”
Austin originally joined the board in January 2016 to take over the unexpired term of James Waldrip, who resigned in December 2015 after 13 years due to health concerns. She then won the seat in February 2017, overcoming a challenge by former RISD educator Louis Mestas. Shortly after the election, she was chosen as president.

Austin is an executive vice president and chief lending officer with Pioneer Bank in Roswell, but she once worked as a teacher and coach. She earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in educational administration. She and her husband, Doug, have a son, Jonah, who attends Goddard High School.
“It was an honor to be appointed to the board and to be retained in the last election,” Austin’s statement read. “I’m so thankful for all of the support I was given through these last 18 months. This district is going in a great direction, and I know that the current board, superintendent and (whomever) they choose to replace me will continue in that direction … moving forward.
“I would also like to apologize for not being able to give what was needed to best serve the district. If I have caused any damage or hurt through my work on the board or by leaving the board, I am truly sorry. Thank you for your understanding.”
Denise Dawson, president of the Roswell Education Association, which represents teachers and other educational professionals in the school district, said she wishes Austin well.
“I am saddened to hear of her resignation,” she said. “She is a champion of fair treatment for all education employees and will be missed.”
Shortly after her election, Austin said her priorities on the board included overseeing budget decisions, helping to develop and enhance district leadership, and working to improve school and district climate.
She also had been guiding the board in a search for a superintendent. Interim Superintendent Susan Sanchez has indicated that she intends to be a candidate for the position. She was named in February to replace Tom Burris, who resigned shortly after elections that put people on the board who were critical of his performance. He indicated his eligibility for retirement and his desire to spend time with family.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.