Want to join the Duluth school board?
Now may be a good time to try, since you won’t have to deal with an election. All that’s required is to fill out a form and answer five questions during a 20-minute interview with current board members.
You do have to get the form certified by a notary.
The rare chance to join the group making decisions for Duluth’s schools via unconventional, and simpler, means arose when former Board Member Josh Gorham resigned earlier this month.
Gorham wrote in a Duluth News Tribune column last week that he resigned primarily for mental health reasons, but he also cited frustrations with the district and board leadership.
The board will select someone to fill Gorham’s seat through 2020. Whoever it chooses will get to have a say in critical matters the board will settle in the coming year — chief among them the selection of a new superintendent to replace Bill Gronseth, who announced plans to step down from his position at the helm of Duluth’s school district at the end of the academic year.
Three other school board seats are up for re-election, creating potential for even more shake-ups in Duluth Public Schools at a time when long-standing achievement gaps and other disparities are once again being thrust into the spotlight.
Tuesday night’s school board meeting was the first since former Denfeld High School Principal Tonya Sconiers filed a lawsuit against the district and its top leaders for alleged discrimination. A few members of the public stood to speak about Sconiers — a vocal critic of the district for what she saw as a lack of policies to address equity issues — and question or express disapproval of the district’s decision to fire her.
More than a dozen onlookers, holding orange paper flags, called for increased transparency and equity.
Most of the roughly four hours of discussions, however, was spent devising the process the board will use to appoint an unexpected addition — the man or woman who, down the road, will wield voting power within their own ranks.
Though no campaign is required, applicants seeking to take over Gorham’s seat must be at least 21 and have lived within Duluth Public Schools boundaries for at least 30 days before Nov. 2.
As of Wednesday, only two candidates had thrown their names in the hat. Applications will be accepted until 4 p.m. Monday.