SHERIDAN — A few days remain for candidates to file for various positions on local school boards. The filing period opened Aug. 8 and will run until Aug. 27. The nonpartisan school board elections are part of the general elections Nov. 6.
New board members will be part of governing bodies that oversee the long-term direction and priorities for school districts. Collectively, a board of trustees has the most power in a given school district. Among many other roles, boards suggest which areas should receive the most attention and are responsible for hiring and evaluating school superintendents.
In Sheridan County School District 2, four at-large trustee positions are open for four-year terms.
The four incumbents are board Chair Ann Perkins, Vice-Chair Sue Wilson and trustees Terry Burgess and Marva Craft. Five people have filed so far: Perkins, Wilson, Shellie Pelesky Szmyd, Lexie Carroll and Arin Waddell. There is also one at-large trustee spot available for a two-year unexpired term. Treasurer Craig Achord is the incumbent and is the only person who has filed for the position thus far.
SCSD2 superintendent Craig Dougherty — like all superintendents — reports directly to the board of trustees. He handles the daily managerial responsibilities of running the school district, based on the vision of the board.
A new board member deals with a lot of information when elected, so SCSD2 presents executive summaries of notable areas for which board members are responsible, including: student learning, board responsibilities, school supervision, teacher and administrative evaluation models, capital construction, facilities and relationships with the community.
Dougherty said he also tries to make himself available as much as possible to board members.
“If there’s any question at all, they’ve got my direct number and they can call me basically 24/7 and/or come and see me,” Dougherty said. “My job is to answer their questions, and if I don’t know the answer, to make sure that I get them the answers to those questions and to make sure they have all the information so they can govern the district.”
For the Northern Wyoming Community College District, three at-large trustee positions are open for four-year terms. The incumbents are Chair Norleen Healy, treasurer Robert Leibrich and secretary Jerry Iekel. Only Healy and Leibrich have filed so far.
NWCCD President Paul Young executes most of the board’s actions and follows its long-term direction.
“The board of trustees represents the owners of the college, which is the public,” Young said.
NWCCD has an orientation process to help get new board members up to speed. It includes visiting the college district’s three campuses in Sheridan, Gillette and Buffalo and learning about the different details specific to every location.
Nearly all of the board members’ work occurs behind the scenes. Members monitor the budget, graduation rates, student performance, student learning, student placement and student success rates, among other areas.
“It’s much more than just coming to a meeting once a month,” Young said.
In Sheridan County School District 3, two at-large trustee positions are open for four-year terms. Vice Chair Kris Malli and treasurer Barbara Carlock are the incumbents. Three people have filed so far: Carlock, Misty Moore Stoll and Wade A. Betz.
SCSD3 superintendent Charles Auzqui said administration must have a quality professional relationship and be on the same page to help the school district move forward. That mainly comes in the form of active communication and straightforward questions and discussion.
“They hold me accountable, as well as everybody else,” Auzqui said.
Like most K-12 school districts in Wyoming, SCSD3 utilizes the Wyoming School Board Association to help with training on governance and leadership policy.
“It’s not any one individual that makes a difference,” Auzqui said. “The board makes decisions as a whole, not as any one individual, so I’m hoping as new board members come on, they’re willing to take on the new board training and understand their role.”
A new member has many different things to understand: education finance, recalibration, teacher evaluations and standards-referenced grading, to name a few.
“We have a lot going on,” Auzqui said. “There’s a huge learning curve, not only for new board members, but for current board members. It is a responsibility to kind of get them up to speed.”
In Sheridan County School District 1, two at-large trustee positions are open for four-year terms. Vice Chair Carol Garber and trustee Clint Krumm are the incumbents. Garber and Krumm are the only people who have filed for the positions so far.
The general election will take place Nov. 6, with early voting starting Sept. 21.