By TRISTAN SCOTT Flathead Beacon
EUREKA — On a recent Saturday morning, as the intimate border community of Eureka made preparations to watch the Lions football team trounce Big Timber in the Class B quarterfinals, Superintendent of Schools Jim Mepham was busy boxing up his belongings.
He still isn’t accustomed to uttering the words “I’m leaving” out loud, such is the abruptness with which he’s decided to resign his post of 15 years. But the community backlash against school administrators has bowled him over, as even the slightest hint of COVID-19 mitigations in Eureka’s public schools has fomented such bitter divisions in this town of fewer than 2,000 people that his exasperation is taking a toll.
“I have a philosophy that I share with my teachers, which is that you take care of yourself first, and I never did that,” Mepham told the Flathead Beacon. “So now I’m doing that, and it feels terrible. I am leaving a school district I love. I am moving out of a house that my wife and I planned on living in forever. We had intended to live here happily ever after, and now I’m moving to a cabin in the woods. I love this