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Berryhill off to tend to politics
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Ceres School Board member Bill Berryhill is stepping down after nine years of public service.

"We've raised the bar for the expectations of our board members," he said. "I'm not able to make that commitment anymore. There's only so much time in the day."

Berryhill, 50, will resign from his post on May 15 to pursue another career opportunity. He's campaigning for the 26th state Assembly District seat this year.

Brother Tom was elected in 2006 to fill the 25th District seat. Father Clare Berryhill served in the Assembly in 1969 and 1970 and then served in the state Senate from 1972 to 1976. He later became director of Food and Agriculture for the state of California.

"It's a big part of our upbringing," Bill Berryhill said. "To give back to our community. If I am elected, I will be able to help Ceres out at another level."

"He's going to do an outstanding job because he'll be able to bring people together," Ceres Unified Supt. Walt Hanline said. "He's such an optimist. We'll miss that."

"He's giving his life to serve the people in this area," board trustee Mike Welsh said. "He cares about what he's doing. There's not a lot of people like that."

Berryhill's replacement will be selected via an appointment this month. A three-person quorum consisting of board members Welsh, Betty Davis and Teresa Guerrero will interview finalists at a public meeting on April 28.

Interested candidates may pick up questionnaires from the superintendent's office and submit them no later than April 18. For more information, call 209-556-1900.

Berryhill's term ends Sept. 2009. He was first elected to the Ceres School Board in 1998. He was re-elected twice.

"It's been nine of the best years of my life," Berryhill said. "It's going to be hard to leave. But it's time to move forward. The experience I got on being on the School Board has much-better prepared me."

During Berryhill's term, CUSD used state funds to build five new elementary schools and a new high school using hardship funding. The district has also experienced an increase in academic performance and teacher salary.

"Those kind of things make you proud," he said.

"The district is a much better place because of him," Welsh said. "His leadership helped get us to where we are today. He was a great role model for me. You listen when people like him talk."

Berryhill will bid farewell next month.

"It's been an honor to have served with so many wonderful and hard working individuals both on the board and throughout the district," he said. "It's comforting to be able to step down knowing the board is in good hands and that our children are well in Ceres Unified.

"I want to thank a lot of people. I just hope I can do it without being too emotional."

Bill lives in Ceres with his wife of 16 years, Teresa, and their three children, William, 15, Alexandra, 13, and Gabriela, 11. The Berryhills grow grapes and walnuts in Stanislaus County.