In a somewhat unusual move, a divided Ketchikan school board voted to reopen applications for a vacant seat Wednesday. Just one person applied to fill the seat left by former school board member Sonya Skan, who resigned earlier this month.
Board Member Paul Robbins Jr. said he’d like to see a larger pool of applicants to pick from.
“I believe we should open it back up, and then convene at the end of the special meeting on June 3 in order to meet the intent of our policy and get the largest possible number of candidates,” Robbins said.
But school board President Kim Hodne said it’s not all that unusual for the board to consider a single candidate for a vacant seat. Hodne pointed out that Robbins himself was the only applicant for a vacancy last year and was appointed to the board without an interview. (Robbins was later elected to a three-year term.)
“I don’t like us moving the goalposts. It was advertised, it was advertised correctly, it was advertised with the precedence of the two weeks, it was there for everyone and anyone to apply for the position. At the end of the day, Mr. Shaw was the only one that applied,” Hodne said.
Two members of the public wrote in to urge the board not to appoint the lone applicant, Trevor Shaw. Shaw served on the school board from 2013 until 2018, when he resigned, facing a citizen recall. Shaw said in his application that he’d learned from prior mistakes he’d made as a board member.
Hodne acknowledged a certain level of community “angst” over Shaw’s nomination, but said he didn’t support reopening applications to satisfy what he described as “keyboard commandos.”
But Hodne was overruled. The board ultimately voted 4-2 to reopen applications for the seat. Hodne and Board Member Diane Gubatayao, who said reopening applications was unfair to Shaw, voted no.
Robbins encouraged community members to apply, saying “it’s not difficult” to be a board member. He encouraged prospective applicants to ask themselves two questions:
“One is, ‘Can I sacrifice a few evenings a month?’ If that answer is yes, move on to No. 2: ‘Can I make decisions securely based on the information I’m provided from the staff, from the teachers and from the public, and not from my own agenda or from whatever special interest group that I care to represent?’” Robbins said. “If to those two questions, you can say yes, you are going to be a successful board member, and you probably should be here.”
Any registered voter within the Ketchikan Gateway Borough is eligible to join the board. The school board plans to interview candidates at a special meeting at 6 p.m. on June 3 in Ketchikan’s Borough Assembly chambers.
Applications for the vacant school board seat are available at the school district’s website, KGBSD.org, or by contacting the school board clerk at 247-2142 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications close at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 1.