The Ottumwa Courier


April 30, 2014

An opportunity to serve

OTTUMWA — Serving on the local school board may not be easy, but it is important. Current members are hoping some citizen is willing to step up and serve for a short time.

The resignation of Ron Oswalt leaves a seat empty on the board of education. Remaining members want to fill that position until the closest "official" election, which will be next year.

The Wapello County Auditor's office told the Ottumwa Courier the board of education had a few options. Almost immediately, the board agreed to skip one possibility.

"I'd like it not to go to an election because that costs money," said board member Cindy Kurtz-Hopkins.

That option, a special election, could cost taxpayers around $10,000. Other board members agreed to pass on that possibility. Another choice: In Muscatine, an outgoing board member recommended his own replacement, which their board accepted.

In Ottumwa, the board has decided to head in a different direction: They will accept letters of interest from residents willing to serve. The letter should explain why the writer should be considered by board members. Board President Carol Mitchell instructed the board secretary to put an ad in the paper asking for candidate letters.

"We want a pool of candidates [to choose from] by May 12," said board member David Weilbrenner.

Mitchell asked the board to approve a special session so a replacement can be voted upon. That is scheduled to take place on May 19.

Candidates should send a letter of interest to the board; a school official said letters should be a sort of resume offering board members a way to decide which potential member will serve.

A district press release issued after the board meeting stated, "The candidate must be a resident of the Ottumwa Community School District, 18 years of age or older and eligible to vote."

"And make sure they know it's unpaid," quipped Kurtz-Hopkins.

Submit letters of interest to Board Secretary Roberta Freeborn by 4 p.m. Monday, May 12 at 422 McCarroll Drive, Ottumwa. For more information, call Freeborn at 641-684-6521 ext. 132.

— To follow Mark Newman on Twitter, check out @CourierMark

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