It’s going to be a long good-bye for Oregon School District superintendent Brian Busler, who last month announced his plans to retire after the school year.

On Monday, Oct. 28 – the first school board meeting since the announcement – there were plenty of heartfelt words about Busler’s 14 years in Oregon, and even a standing ovation for what his time as superintendent meant to a district that has grown by hundreds of students since his hiring in 2006.

Oregon Education Association spokesperson Nathan Johnson said while there would be “time at the end of the year to go over it,” he thanked Busler for “many years of dedicated service to our district and to public education.”

“While we may not have always agreed on everything … I never doubted that you always had our students, our learners and our community at the focus of everything you did,” he said.

Board president Steve Zach, who was on the board that hired Busler, similarly remarked how there would be “time for words later in the year.”

“So I’ll spare you mine,” he said.

Courtney Odorico, also a member of the board that hired Busler, was more than willing to offer some comments, though, recalling one of her first duties as a board member was hiring a new superintendent. She said the board identified a few characteristics they wanted in the position, one of those being “a good communicator (who would) become part of the community and put kids at the center of decision making.”

“It is very easy to see why we hired Dr. Busler, keeping those characteristics in mind,” she said. “It was pretty obvious when we sat in that little room in (Rome Corners Intermediate School) all those years ago. We had the cream of the crop right there, so we were thrilled when he agreed to become our leader.”

Busler accomplished “a lot of really amazing things” in 14 years, Odorico added, “overseeing countless task forces and study groups and spearheading so many district initiatives.”

“When he came on, we probably had 3,400 students,” she said. “We’re up to 4,100 now, and as we all know we’re growing and he is doing a great job of leading us into that next chapter.”

Perhaps his greatest achievement, Odorico said, has been helping the district to pass three referenda since the last unsuccessful effort in 2012.

That’s more than $100 million invested in the district by its residents, Odorico said.

“You took really good care of our garden and you have planted some really exciting seeds for the future,” she said. “For that, we are fortunate and we are grateful … for leaving such an amazing legacy for our students and our community.”

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.