At a meeting this week, the Skagway School Board appointed resident Mark Smith to an empty seat on the five-person board. Smith was one of four people who submitted letters of interest for the open seat.
In Skagway’s municipal election earlier this month, there were two open seats on the school board, but just one candidate ran. John Hischer was re-elected to his seat and nominated to continue serving as school board president.
Mark Smith, Bruce Weber, Rebecca Jensen and Mark Lahrman submitted letters of interest for the open seat.
“It is exciting to have four really great people who are interested in joining the school board,” said Hischer at Monday’s meeting.
Hischer asked the candidates a few questions about their qualifications and why they were running. Smith said he has two young kids in the school.
“So this is an opportunity to give back to the community, help out a little bit,” Smith said.
Lahrman said he is also interested in the board because he has two kids in the district. Jensen is a lifelong resident and former Skagway School student with one child at the school.
“The school is the center of our community,” Jensen said.
Weber was the only one out of the four candidates who had served on the board before.
“The workings of the school board when I was on it were not as joyous as it is now,” Weber said. “I think it would be fun to participate in this process.”
After hearing from the other three candidates, Lahrman told the school board that he wanted to withdraw his name from the running. He said the other candidates seemed more qualified than him since they had served on other community boards.
So, it was between Smith, Jensen and Weber. The three left the room while the school board deliberated. Board member Cara Cosgrove recused herself from the discussion and vote because she is married to Weber.
“One of the things that I’m looking for is continuity on the school board, and it’s hard to get people to run,” Hischer said.
He said, since Smith has two young children in the school, he might be more invested in serving on the board long-term. In Weber’s letter of interest, he said he was only interested in serving one year. Board member Darren Belisle said he thought Jensen might be the best candidate. He said she would do her homework and not be afraid to voice her opinion.
Board member Mary Tidlow leaned towards Smith, because of his experience going into a vocational field instead of attending college. That was something Smith mentioned when talking about what he would bring to the board.
“Mark [Smith] offers the viewpoint of kids who are graduating and kids who may not go to college and whatnot,” said Tidlow. “I think that is a plus on the board.”
The board members voted two to one in favor of Smith. Since he was appointed and not elected, his seat will have a one-year term that expires in the next election cycle.