Amid a school closing controversy, 10 candidates have filed for three seats on Stillwater’s school board.
The field includes two incumbents, Amy Burback and Michael Ptacek. A third incumbent, Kathy Buchholz, didn’t file for re-election.
Burback and Buchholz were among five board members who voted in March to close three elementary schools in Marine on St. Croix, rural Hugo and Oak Park Heights. Ptacek was one of two board members who opposed the plan.
Other candidates who filed in the election period that ended Tuesday: Jerry Clark, Stillwater; Robert Craggs, Lakeland; Tom DeGree, Lake Elmo; Michelle Deziel, Lake Elmo; Chad Gamradt, Stillwater; Donald Hovland, Oak Park Heights; Jennifer Pelletier, Lake Elmo; and Sarah Stivland, Stillwater.
Three other candidates who initially filed dropped out of the race by Thursday’s deadline.
The board’s decision to close schools came three months after Superintendent Denise Pontrelli announced her proposed district reorganization, “Building Opportunities for Learning and Discovery,” or BOLD for short.
An ensuing controversy led to three lawsuits filed against the district, one petition calling for Pontrelli’s dismissal and another for a state audit of school finances, and an attempt to merge the Stillwater and Mahtomedi school districts.
A court victory, legislative action, or four opposing board votes could stop BOLD.
Pontrelli said a radical new direction would end cycles of budget shortfalls and improve learning opportunities in a district that covers half of Washington County.
Opponents of the plan said it was hatched in secret and was tone-deaf to the academic excellence and community importance of the closing schools.
The school board candidates will appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.