Bolivar R-1 School Board’s quest to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of one of its members will be about as wide open as it can get. And not just because the board wishes it to be, though board president Paula Hubbert says that also is the case.
According to Missouri School Boards’ Association lawyers, the selection process must occur during sessions open to the public, Hubbert told her fellow members during the board’s regular monthly session Thursday, May 16. The discussion followed the board’s unopposed decision, with all members present, to formally accept the resignation of Nathan Duncan effective June 1.
Due to the district’s policy of replacing resigning board members via an application process, all aspects of the board’s decision-making on the subject are required to be open, she said.
Those open proceedings should include any interviews the board conducts with candidates, as well as the board’s discussion and votes concerning which individual will be chosen.
Hubbert said the openness of the process required for Bolivar’s search is not typical — most other school boards may simply appoint a new member to fill a vacancy.
“Our board policy outlines very clearly how we will proceed, and I learned from talking to other districts we are silly,” she said. “Most other districts’ policy is they just appoint somebody, but our policy says that we will take applications. And other people said, ‘Oh, it would be so much easier if you just would just appoint someone.’ Well, yeah, it probably would, but our policy says that we are going to have an application process.”
She said other districts have advised her that the open process likely means the board is “going to make a lot of people really mad.”
“But this is what we have,” she said.
Hubbert said the board must also “make the public aware” the application is available for at least two weeks.
During the session Thursday, the board voted unanimously to adopt a proposed application form, and on Friday, the district made the application available for download via the district’s website at bolivarschools.org. Applications may also be picked up at the Bolivar R-1 Schools Administration building from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. They must be submitted in person to Board of Education Secretary Sheila Anderson at the administration building by 4 p.m. Friday, May 31.
Candidate interviews will be conducted by the board at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 4, during open session.
Following discussion about the format of the interviews, the board determined it will interview candidates one at a time while other candidates wait in the hallway.
“And then we’ll vote,” Hubbert said.
R-1 superintendent Tony Berry interjected with his own suggestion for the interviews.
“Maybe we could borrow the Care to Learn dunk tank,” he said.
The successful candidate, Hubbert said, will fill the vacancy until the April 2020 election. At that time, he or she may run for election.
Hubbert said she has already heard from a number of community members who are interested in applying for the post.
“I appreciate anybody who’d like to step up and be a part of what we have going here, because we have some wonderful things going here in Bolivar,” she said.
As previously reported in the BH-FP, Duncan submitted a letter of resignation to the board earlier this month.
Duncan told the board and attendees Thursday he and his family have made “the difficult decision” to relocate to northern Utah.
Currently an attorney with Douglas Haun and Heidemann PC in Bolivar, he said he will be taking a job at a law firm in Utah. The move will also put the Duncans closer to “some family members who are struggling,” he said.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said, adding he and his wife have felt “welcomed” in Bolivar “even though we are both transplants.”
He said while he is “sad to leave the district,” he knows “it is in good hands.”
Who can apply?
According to the Missouri School Boards’ Association, a school board member must be a U.S. citizen, a resident taxpayer of the district, a resident of Missouri for at least one year and at least 24. They also must have filed required campaign documents for all previous campaigns, if any, and be current on state and local taxes. In addition, they must not have not been found guilty of or pleaded guilty to a felony under Missouri or federal law and must not be registered or be required to register as a sex offender.
Questions? Contact Board of Education Secretary Sheila Anderson and President Paula Hubbert by calling 326-5291.