In 1993, Jim Buckley began his service on the Redwood Area Board of Education.

“I was serving on a couple of committees that were working on the formation of the middle school,” said Buckley.

That work prompted him to get more involved with what was going on in the local school district and convinced him to run for the school board.

Now in his 25th year on the local board, Buckley was recently honored for his service by the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA).

During its annual conference held earlier this month, Buckley was selected as an all-state school board member.

“They select seven school board members every year,” said Buckley.

Out of the 2,500 plus school board members who serve statewide, Buckley was selected.

Rick Ellingworth, Redwood Area School District superintendent, recognized Buckley as a “selfless leader with good humor” who is “very well liked by his colleagues.”

“He is a first class, genuine and committed leader as the school board chairperson. He has been a steady and positive influence in transitioning from a seasoned, experienced school board to one with newer members who have genuinely melded into a high functioning team,” Ellingworth added. “He is committed to making things better than they presently are. It does not matter if the times are good or if they are bad, Jim’s focus has always been on improvement.”

Buckley will admit he has never been one who is big on awards, but he said he feels very honored to have been nominated and selected for this award. Someone, he said, must think he is doing something right.

“This award is not just about me,” said Buckley. “This is for all of the school board members I have worked with over the years. I have worked with some very good people as a member of the school board, and none of what has been accomplished would have happened without all of us working together.” 

During his time on the board, Buckley has seen a lot of changes, including the consolidation of the Redwood Falls school district with the Morton and then the Belview school districts. Buckley said he believes both of those were good moves for the communities and the school district.

Most importantly it was good for the kids.

Buckley added the upgrades to the school campus at Redwood Valley and the cooperative project that led to the community center is another big project that has been accomplished by the board during the years he has been serving.

Buckley reiterated projects like that don’t happen because of one person.

Rather, it is the group working together that accomplishes tasks, and he credits the efforts of those board members, past and present, for the impact all of that is still making for students.

Students, said Buckley, have changed quite a bit over the past 25 years, adding many them are coming to school with more needs, and that has changed the landscape of education. Added staff are required who can help meet the needs of students which go beyond what they are learning in the classroom. School districts have to spend a lot more time focusing on testing today than they ever have, added Buckley.

“All of this testing is not necessarily our decision,” said Buckley.

Buckley, who was again elected to serve as chair of the school board, has also served as a legislative liaison for the local board through the MSBA as it creates a legislative platform that outlines the priorities to work on with elected officials at the state and federal level.

Having been elected again in 2016, Buckley just recently started the second year of his current four-year term, and he is looking forward to seeing what can be accomplished as the next three years unfold.

“This is a nice award,” said Buckley, “but I accepted it for all of the people I have served with over the years. It is working with a good superintendent, good board members and great staff that convinced me to keep serving on the school board.”