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SHIPROCK — After serving for 24 years on the Central Consolidated School District Board of Education, Randy Manning will vacate the District 1 seat this month.

On Tuesday evening, the district showed its appreciation for Manning during a celebration before the regular school board meeting inside the district's administration building in Shiprock.

Manning, who was accompanied by family and friends, was immediately greeted with hugs and handshakes when he arrived.

Manning did not seek re-election to the board, and his term will end Feb. 28. Sheldon Pickering was elected to the seat on Feb. 7.

In an interview on Monday, Manning said he decided to run for the board in late 1992 after hearing concerns about issues in the district. He won his first election in February 1993.

"I'm quite surprised that I made it this many years," he said, adding it was time for the board to start a new chapter.

Among the challenges Manning faced was securing adequate funding from the state and federal governments and making sure the district complied with state and tribal laws because it serves communities on and off the Navajo Nation.

He has also had his share of critics throughout the years. Manning was named in lawsuits against the school board and district but continued to be instrumental in the board's direction.

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As for the current board members, Manning said they have worked hard to understand their roles and responsibilities.

"I'm comfortable with them, knowing that they can carry on, they can make wise decisions," he said.

At Tuesday's event, Susie R. Wood, who represents Newcomb Chapter on the district's Indian Education Committee, said Manning was always open to listening to concerns from parents, staff and community members.

"I know he did a tremendous job for the administration, for our Diné students," Wood said.

Leah Guillory, financial secretary at Kirtland Central High School, said she has known Manning for years and extended her appreciation to Manning's wife and their five children.

"He's done so many good, positive things for CCSD and even in the community. He's just a good man," Guillory said.

With 24 years of experience — including service on the New Mexico School Boards Association and the National School Boards Association — Manning is a wealth of history and knowledge, she said.

CCSD Superintendent Colleen Bowman said Manning's love for the district is reflected in the work he accomplished.

"He would bring the voice of the community. …He knew his role was to support the administration and to make sure the district didn't fall," Bowman said.

She added that she will miss his expertise, but she is confident in the board's abilities to proceed.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

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