School board unable to decide on new member

Published 8:11 am Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Austin School Board was unable to continue their efforts to fill the vacant school board seat Tuesday when the selection process ended in a three to three deadlock vote.

Four candidates interviewed for the spot at the special meeting of the board. Each were given up to 45 minutes to answer a series of seven questions before individual board members selected their choices; several votes were taken, each ending in a stalemate with none of the six sitting members opting to change their selections.

Candidates interviewed included Jeff Ollman, Aaron DeVries, Lisa Peters and Robin Krueger.

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In order for a candidate to be selected, they must receive a four vote majority. Board members Richard Lees, Don Fox and Diana Wangsness voted for candidate Jeff Ollman, while Aaron Keenan, Jeff Kritzer and Kathy Green voted for candidate Lisa Peters.

While Peters’ supporters touted that she has five children in the district and holds similar values to Keenan, who won five out of six precincts in the last election and garnered the most votes overall, those who voted for Ollman praised his classroom volunteerism, knowledge of district finances and experience as a 31-year veteran in the district.

Ollman is a retired speech and language pathologist who worked in the district and Peters is an Austin Public Schools substitute teacher and a tax preparer.

DeVries and Ollman both ran unsuccessfully in the last school board election.

The seventh seat has been vacant since March when the board voted unanimously to oust Curt Rude, deciding a defamation suit he held against the district and a former superintendent posed a conflict of interest. The lawsuit was dismissed by a judge in June.

The board went ahead Tuesday with the appointment process, as state law does not allow a school board to hold a special election.

“The law prohibits a special election. I think that needs to be understood,” said Austin Superintendent David Krenz. “Many people asked ‘Why didn’t you hold a special election?’ There is a law that county has to do it, but the schools can’t do it. It’s the fickle nature of the law.”

The seat appointment process must now return to the Personnel Committee for another round of applications before the next vote can be taken. No date has yet been announced for that meeting.

Read the Herald’s coverage on the candidate review process

Austin School Board to interview candidates Tuesday

Austin School Board selects finalists to fill vacant seat

9 apply for Rude’s school board seat