Board of Education Recap: Jessica Curtis Selected for Vacant Seat

The Board of Education for Lowell Area Schools held a special meeting on Monday night to approve budget amendments, select a new board member and conduct a closed session review of interim superintendent Nate Fowler.

First, though, the board voted for a new president and vice president. The election of officers was needed in the wake of former president Jim Turner’s retirement. Brian Krajewski was unanimously approved to become the board’s new president, and Laurie Kuna was unanimously approved as vice president. Dan Stephens had previously expressed an interest in the vice president position but withdrew his name from consideration prior to the vote.

Following the election of officers, the board unanimously approved amendments to the general fund and food service budgets. These were first presented during a meeting held last week.

Jessica Curtis Selected for Board Vacancy

At the board’s last meeting, three candidates were interviewed to fill the vacant spot on the board, which was created by Turner’s departure. On Monday, members discussed the candidates before unanimously agreeing on who should take the available seat.

Kuna thought Amanda Schrauben would be a good addition to the board, noting that she had young children in the district, community connections and experience with the PTO and city Planning Commission. Stephens, Tom Kaywood and Gary Blough were in favor of appointing Jessica Curtis, saying they liked that she was an alumni of the district and had experience on the Lowell Education Foundation. Pat Nugent said “the Amandas” — Schrauben and Amanda Rogers — were his top two choices.

Krajewski asked the board to take a vote, and Kuna nominated Schrauben. A vote was taken with Kuna and Nugent being the only yes votes. Curtis was then nominated, and the board voted unanimously to appoint her to the seat. Her term will expire in December 2022.

No Decision on Superintendent Search

The Board of Education also heard a presentation from Kent ISD Superintendent Ron Caniff. He reviewed the results of community feedback received regarding the search for a new permanent superintendent to replace Greg Pratt, who retired over the summer.

More than 1,000 people provided input on the superintendent search, according to Caniff. Feedback was gathered via surveys and stakeholder meetings. A majority of those participating said they wanted a superintendent with a proven track record in school administration and leadership as well as someone who understands the emotional and social needs of students. Knowledge of the community and a commitment to diversity also ranked high in the survey results.

The Board of Education can hire a new superintendent internally or conduct an external search. If an internal search were to be undertaken, a job posting would be listed for two weeks and then candidates could be interviewed. If the board did not find a suitable candidate internally, they could always switch to an external search, Caniff said. Conducting an external search would likely involve hiring a consultant to help with the search process.

At the end of the meeting, the Board of Education went into a closed session to discuss Fowler’s performance as interim superintendent. When they returned to open session, no decision was announced as to whether an internal or external search will be conducted. This matter will apparently be discussed further at a future meeting.

The next regular meeting for the Lowell Area Schools Board of Education is scheduled for December 14, 2020 at 7pm.

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