R-III school board dealing with vacancy after member departs

Derrick Forsythe, Correspondent
Posted 9/7/21

For the third time in six years, the Warren County R-III School Board will operate with just six members. Board member Laurie Wenzel announced that she is leaving the board because she is moving out …

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R-III school board dealing with vacancy after member departs

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For the third time in six years, the Warren County R-III School Board will operate with just six members. Board member Laurie Wenzel announced that she is leaving the board because she is moving out of the school district.

Board members decided during their work session on Aug. 26 to leave open the position left vacant by the departing Wenzel until the April 2022 election. Wenzel is no longer eligible to serve after moving out of the district.

“They’re going to wait until the election to have the people decide at that point, so they’ll just function with six until then,” said Superintendent Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith.

The board also had the option of opening the vacant position to applicants from the community and narrowing the field by conducting panel interviews. This was the route taken by the board in July 2017 when Dr. Chad Smith was selected to fill a position vacated by John Bradshaw.

“Once every two or three years somebody will step down,” said Klinginsmith. “It’s not very common but does happen.”

The board had to make a similar decision in fall 2019, when active board member Allan Dreyer passed away unexpectedly. At that time they also opted to leave the seat open until the following April election.

Klinginsmith said he doesn’t foresee any issues being created by the vacancy.

“Our board members are always very committed, so we don’t typically have attendance issues,” said Klinginsmith. “In that case we shouldn’t have any problems establishing a quorum.”

The most likely setback from having only six board members is the possibility of a vote resulting in a 3-3 tie.

“In that case you wouldn’t necessarily have a tie-breaking vote,” said Klinginsmith. “The issue would just fail, because it would not get the majority of the votes.”

In such a case, the board could continue to discuss an issue and make another proposal that yields four votes and work together to come up with a solution, he said.

Wenzel, whose final meeting was on Aug. 12, had served on the board since April 2014. She held the office of board president from April 2019 through April 2021.

“Laurie was a wonderful board member,” said Klinginsmith. “She was dedicated to the schools and the position and really leaned in to move the district forward in many different areas. We very much appreciate her service during her time on the board, especially as president, which is a very involved role.”

For those interested in serving on the school board, filing for the April 2022 election is in December. Wenzel’s successor will only be elected for one year to finish out her term.

Two other board members, Sarah Janes and Ginger Schenck, will be eligible for reelection to another term. Their elections will be for three-year terms.

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