OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa school board will soon have a new member, though it may not be someone on the board for long.
“Bill Allen has officially moved, so he is going to be sending [his resignation]. He has officially moved so he can no longer serve as a board member,” said Superintendent Nicole Kooiker.
The announcement of a successor for Allen will take place on a tight timeline. While there is an election for the school board this November, the requirement to fill the spot within 30 days means the district cannot wait for election day.
The district needs to make a formal announcement of the vacancy, which should take place soon. A month from now, there should be a new member in place. But that new member’s future will be almost immediately be linked to the elections. There’s no requirement that the appointed member run, nor is there a guarantee that person would win the election.
“That person, as you all know, could potentially only be on the board for a couple months. They could be re-elected,” Kooiker said.
Board members said they were sorry to see Allen leave.
As Allen departs, Ottumwa High School’s new principal made a presentation to the board. Richard Hutchinson focused on the distribution of Chromebook computers last week to juniors and seniors.
The first night, which included seniors, had a couple snags, Hutchinson said. The second night went much more smoothly. The computers are an attempt to bridge the gap in access to technology for some students when outside the schools, but Hutchinson also expects other gains.
Monitoring software will alert administrators to instances that indicate cyber-bullying or a student may be considering harming themselves. The goal for both is to intervene quickly, preventing situations from spiraling before adults are aware of them.
The students are expected to care for the devices. While families won’t generally face the full cost of replacement, costs may escalate on repairs or replacement for multiple incidents.
“This is an investment. One of the things that we expect of them is to take care of the devices,” Hutchinson said.
The meeting met the state’s legal requirements — barely — due to the absences of Leisa Walker, Gary Granneman and Allen. The board’s four-member quorum was the smallest possible number of members for the session.