Special to The Gardner News
USD 231 members appointed two new board members on Sept. 16.
Tresa Boden, a former USD 231 director of health services, was appointed to position number 3. She was the only applicant for the spot.
Mary Nelson, senior vice president of commercial lending at Metcalf Bank, was appointed to position 4. Nelson was selected from a pool of three candidates, including Katherine Marshal and Darla Mabrey. She was approved 5-0 with Brad Chandler abstaining.
The new members are to replace former board member Shelta Collins and Tim Rayburn, who has announced his intention to step aside.
Chandler objected to the appointment process. Chandler explained he had received some last minute information from the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) that led him to question the legitimacy of the appointment process for replacing Rayburn, board president, given that he had not formally resigned and was actually presiding over the meeting. Rayburn voted on his own replacement.
He referred to a document, taken from the KASB School Law Handbook, that was emailed to him late in the day by a KASB attorney in response to his questions about the relationship between a resignation, a board vacancy and publishing a notice to announce a vacancy.
This document, written in question-and-answer format, said that the law requires the board to publish a vacancy notice after the vacancy occurs.
“Until the board member actually resigns, there is no vacancy,” the attorney-written letter reads.
Superintendent Bill Gilhaus, asked USD 231 attorney, Joe Hatley to speak to Chandler’s concerns.
Hatley quoted statute K.S.A. 25-2022: “Any board shall have power to fill by appointment any vacancy which occurs thereon, and such appointee shall serve for the unexpired term. When a vacancy occurs, the board shall publish a notice one time in a newspaper having general circulation in the school district stating that the vacancy has occurred and that it will be filled by appointment by the board not sooner than fifteen (15) days after such publication.”
Hatley also read the last sentence from KSA 25-2023, “Each member elected to a board of education shall hold office until a successor is elected or appointed and qualified and shall serve for a term of four (4) years.”
Hatley said a resigning board member has the option to either resign effective immediately as Collins did, or to remain in office until the board appoints a new member as Rayburn was doing.
Hatley saw no reason the board could not proceed with the appointment process for vacancies created by Collins and Rayburn. Chandler was unable to provide a statute addressing the information given him by KASB.
Chandler asked that they proceed with replacing the vacancy created by Collins, but table the vote for replacing Rayburn until the new information he provided was researched. Rob Shippy, board member, also suggested that the process for appointing a replacement for Rayburn be rescheduled to allow further investigation. Shippy said he wanted to be sure the process was correct. Gilhaus immediately responded to Shippy. The superintendent said that in a private meeting with Shippy last week, Shippy had praised the appointment process and transparency on the issue. Gilhaus said he could not understand why Shippy was now taking issue with proceeding. Shippy made no further comments.
The vote to accept the process for appointing board members was approved with four members voting yes. Chandler and Shippy abstained.