Steamboat Springs For the second time this year, the Steamboat Springs School Board has to appoint a new member after an unexpected resignation.
Board member Jim Kissane, who was appointed to his District 2 seat in January, resigned last week after he moved out of the district he represents to a new home near downtown Steamboat.
State rules do not allow board members to continue serving out a term if they don't reside in the boundaries of the district to which they were elected.
The move will force the board, which has struggled in recent years to attract new candidates, to find a replacement within two months.
“I kind of regret I have to resign because I was at the point where I was starting to understand all that was going on,” Kissane said. “I think I have much more appreciation now for what goes on in the district.”
Kissane, a retired TIC controller and chief financial officer, took the seat after board member Wayne Lemley resigned in November because of personal reasons.
The School Board officially will declare the seat open again at a meeting next month.
Faced with another sudden resignation and no identified candidates for District 2, Board President Brian Kelly on Sunday pondered whether new financial incentives for board members will be needed in the future to attract strong candidates.
“My gut feeling is you're going to have trouble attracting working people to serve on the School Board with just nothing,” Kelly said. “Times are too tough.”
Board members receive $20 a month as a cellphone stipend.
Kelly pointed to other boards in the city that are compensated at a much higher level for their service.
Steamboat Springs City Council members, for example, make $625 per month and receive full health benefits. The council's president makes $825 per month, and the president pro-tem makes $725 a month.
“You hate thinking about putting more money into the directorship of the school district in the budget times you're in,” Kelly said. “But man, I don't think anybody can do as much good or as much harm as the School Board can do.”
Kelly said the upcoming appointment in District 2 could be tricky because the seat must be filled less than two months before it will be in play for the November election.
He said it could get even more complicated if more than one person decides to run for the seat, and the board doesn't have a “neutral” person come forward and fill it as a sort of placeholder until the election.
But Kelly isn't rooting against having more than one person run for the seat.
“You almost always want an election to be contested,” he said. “It's better for the democratic process.”
District 2 covers all of the school district's southern boundary and a small section within city limits. With the exception of Tree Haus, residents who vote in Precincts 6, 7 and 18 live in the district.
Kelly said Kissane's sudden resignation beckons an important question for the School Board.
“Is this a run of bad luck, or is the board going to have trouble attracting good candidates, period?” he asked.
It's been years since the School Board had every seat contested in an election.
With Kelly saying Sunday that he is unlikely to seek another term, the District 2 seat open and incumbent Denise Connelly term limited in District 3, chances are the race will be wide open.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com
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