(T-G Photo by Tracy Simmons)
State Sen. Jim Tracy presented a Senate proclamation honoring Cooper's service to the community. Cooper was chairman for 16 of the years he served. Tracy is a former school board member.
"Thank you for the privilege of serving the citizens of the fifth district," said Cooper at the end of the meeting. "I think we have made a lot of important decisions on behalf of the students of Bedford County."
Cooper has served with three superintendents during his tenure and spoke of the unique set of skills each brought to the school system.
Of Mike Bone, he praised the building programs which began under his administration. "Until we cranked up the building program, we hadn't built a school in this county in 30 years."
"Ed Gray pulled off the perfect storm," he said of the system's reconfiguration of school zoning and the opening of Thomas Magnet School and Learning Way Elementary. "It's made a huge difference."
"While the Bone and Gray era was wonderful, Dr. [Ray] Butrum offers us an opportunity to use all the ground work that they laid in moving the system forward to exemplary school status."
"I've been blessed to serve the community."
Mike Cook was elected earlier this month to serve the fifth district. Leonard Singleton also retired from the board this year, with John Boutwell elected to fill his 8th district seat. Both will begin serving next month.
The board, including the newly-elected members, will elect a new chairman next month from among its membership.