Lyle board will trim down list of board candidates

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Lyle Public School board addressed several issues despite the hoopla at its monthly meeting Tuesday night.

Board members set a timeline to fill former member Scott Nelson’s vacant seat. Nelson resigned from the district last month as his family is moving to Austin.

Residents can apply to become a board member starting Monday, Nov. 28. Applications will be due by Dec. 6 and superintendent Jim Dusso will individually meet with candidates Dec. 8. The board will narrow the candidate list to five at its next monthly meeting Dec. 12 and candidates will make their case before the board at a special session Dec. 27. Board members will decide that day who to accept and the new board member should be sworn in at Lyle’s Jan. 9 meeting.

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Though districts like Austin Public Schools and Albert Lea Area Schools have used the application process, critics of the board and Dusso say the application shouldn’t be used in Lyle.

“They’re going to handpick who they want,” said Gary Harrison, Lyle City Council member and former district bus driver. Harrison and many residents at the meeting are concerned with Dusso’s leadership style and the board’s recent shift towards what they say is a more private, less trustworthy board.

Board member Dan King proposed putting the board seat up for vote, but other board members and Dusso shot the idea down as Nelson’s term is up in December of 2012 and a special election would cost $8-$10,000.

—The board also voted to buy a 71-seat bus and a nine-seat passenger van. The bus will cost the district about $85,000 and the van about $34,000, according to Dusso. The district discussed buying two buses and two vans for about $225,000 over four years, yet board members wanted to split purchases between this year and next, so vehicles wouldn’t come out of service at the same time.

“We need to split it,” board member Carl Truckenmiller said.

—The board heard reports about district finances from Greg Larson of Hill, Larson, Walth & Benda. The report was positive overall, though Larson pointed out the state owed the district $568,000, or about $100,000 more than last year, due to the state budget shutdown. In addition, Larson said the district needed to review several outdated checks and needed to have employees initial or stamp transaction notices to track them easier.

—The board hired a new bus driver and a part-time physical education teacher, moves board members had previously discussed in October.