For the last nine months, the District 4 spot on the Chewelah School Board has been vacant, despite efforts to try and recruit a volunteer that lives within the district boundaries. The lack of a viable candidate has made the current Chewelah School Board consider new options, like adding “at large” positions to the board that don’t require volunteers to live in a specific geographic area. One of those options was recently approved by the board and will go to voters on the November ballot.
The Chewelah School District has had a hard time filling the District 4 spot since the resignation of Tim Whitley last November. Whitley served on the school board for 12 years before stepping down. Despite repeated calls for applicants and notices in local media, no one who lived in the district stepped forward to fill the position.
One person who did volunteer, Lori Larsen, does not volunteer, Lori Larsen, does not live within the district was initially appointed as an “at-large” position before the district discovered they could not have an at-large position without a voter-approved change to the school board’s structure. The misstep encouraged the school board to look at redistricting options instead of turning down volunteers willing to serve.
Voters in the Chewelah School District will get to decide if they support the idea as well, as a measure will be on the November ballot. The ballot proposal would change the current 5 district division of the Chewelah School District into 3 district-based positions with two at large.
Currently, the five district positions are filled by: District 1 – John Eminger, District 2 – Clint Kirry, District 3 – Deanna Norvell, District 4 – vacant, District 5 – Loretta Burkey. A map of the new proposed district boundaries is available at the Chewelah School District office.
Superintendent Rick Linehan said it will cost the district $1,884 to put the issue on the ballot in November.
“The public is always welcome to call our district office and I am always available. Our school board members are also very good sources on this issue,” said Linehan.
Chewelah School Board Chair Deanna Norvell said she feels the redistricting measure will bring new opportunities to the board.
“Redistricting opens up the opportunity for an interested community member to serve on the Chewelah School Board. There has been interest in filling the position; several community members have expressed an interest in the open director position; but did not live within Director District 4 boundaries,” Norvell explained. “By changing the configuration from five specific districts to three specific districts and two at large positions we hope to have the open position filled. Based on the amount of time which has passed since the position was vacated, the board finds this is a reasonable option to fill the open position. The benefit to the school board and the community is having a full working board of five members; each member bringing different information, considerations and perspective to the process.”
For more information, call the Chewelah School District office at 685-6800.
By Jamie Henneman/The Independent Staff