The Ketchikan School Board spent about three hours Wednesday choosing an interim board member to fill a vacant seat. Members eventually let the student board member weigh in to break a tie in the nomination process.
The board then appointed Lana Boler to the seat, which she will fill until the October regular election. Board vice president Glenn Brown resigned his seat when he was hired as the new Ketchikan Gateway Borough Attorney.
The board had fairly easily whittled a field of seven candidates down to two: Boler and Christa Hagan. That’s where the process got stuck. The school board nominates appointees by secret ballot, and multiple rounds came back with 3 to 3 ties.
The school board considered, and rejected, proposals of a coin toss to break the tie, and of a special election. Throughout the process, Student Board Member Michael Starr was largely left out. His votes are advisory, because he is not an elected member.
Starr did have an opportunity to mention what traits he prefers in a board member, and he said a student-centered approach is most important. He also said he thinks he should be allowed to weigh in on the nomination.
“I think asking me would be more credible than a coin toss,” he said.
After a fifth and then a sixth round of anonymous nomination ballots ended in ties, the board voted to allow Starr to participate. That’s when Boler received four nominations.
The vote to appoint her then was unanimous. Boler is an aviation safety instructor with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Boler was sworn in and assumed her seat. The board then chose Kim Hodne as its new vice president.
Also on Wednesday, the board heard from Ketchikan Education Association Vice President Sarah Campbell, speaking on behalf of a packed audience full of teachers. She told the board that KEA’s contract negotiating team met for 20 minutes this week with the district’s negotiator, Randy Bohannon, and didn’t accomplish anything.
Campbell says Bohannon told the group that he couldn’t talk about establishing ground rules to start negotiating until he knew that union members had voted to reject an earlier tentative agreement.
Campbell says it was well documented that the vote had occurred.
“Either he didn’t do his homework, or he’s intentionally trying to stall negotiations,” she said. “Mr. Bohannon was hired by the district to represent this school board. So I ask: Is this how you want to be represented?”
Campbell says it’s up to the board to set the tone for negotiations, and provide direction to its negotiator. She says KEA was filing an unfair labor practice complaint against the district.
The board in January approved a $20,000 contract with Bohannon of Victor Four Labor Relations to negotiate on behalf of the district. The teachers’ contract expired last July.