Northwest trustees choose to leave spot open

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, December 6, 2017
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The Northwest School Board will operate with only six members until the May election.

Trustees Monday night elected to leave the Place 7 spot vacant, instead of making an appointment or holding a special election.

The spot became vacant when Mel Fuller resigned following his arrest for possession of child pornography Oct. 31.

After each of the six trustees spoke about the vacancy, they voted unanimously to leave it open.

“If someone had a strong opinion, we were willing to listen and hear what they had to say,” said board President Mark Schluter.

Most trustees mentioned the need for the community to choose the person for the spot.

“I don’t think we should appoint anyone to fill the position,” said Lillian Rausch. “We just have to collaborate and have more discussions to solve our problems until May. I think it gives an appointed person an advantage in the election.”

Vice President Judy Copp agreed: “I don’t feel comfortable appointing someone because I think our community should be the ones that make that decision. I think we would be able work out any tie vote with more discussion.”

The lone concern about leaving the spot open was a split vote with only six members. Superintendent Ryder Warren said in the case of a tie vote, “we would have to keep working until we found something that four of us agreed on.”

Before the May election, the district will start working on budgeting and staffing for the 2018-19 school year. Warren warned the board Monday the district will face several tough choices with the budget this coming year. The district faces losing state aid with the expiration of the Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR). It previously received in excess of $10 million. This year, it received a one-time payment of $6 million, according to Warren. He anticipated emotional discussions about the budget similar to last year.

“The budget is not going to look any prettier,” he said.

The district will also be working on its strategic plan. Three trustees will be on the committee with 50 community members.

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