Public service is a largely thankless task. School board service is among the most thankless public endeavors. Emotion surrounds issues of the public schools. Oregon schools have faced disinvestment over the past 12 years. Thus school boards have managed a period of decline, which is one of the most difficult tasks in government or private sector management.

As Jennifer Collins reported Friday, Rhoberta Michaels will soon be leaving the Astoria School Board after 11 years of service. During that period, Michaels brought a high level of intelligence and commitment as well as a willingness to learn and grow in the political art that is essential to working on a collegial body.

Michaels has taken a special interest in Astoria schools' need to accommodate a growing minority population. She has championed the use of Camp Odyssey, a statewide organization that equips young people to appreciate racial and cultural diversity. Michaels went through the Odyssey training and served as a camp counselor.

Among the challenges facing the Astoria School Board is an unsettling spate of bullying incidents at the Astoria Middle School. The board cannot relent in its attention to this topic.

The board's choice of a successor to Superintendent Larry McMacken will be its most important legacy.

No one comes to public office fully equipped to meet its challenges. That is especially true for school board service because public education is much more complex when seen from the inside than from the outside. Rhoberta Michaels set a good example in her willingness to learn on the job. Thank you, Rhoberta.