The St. Paul school board is moving to fill a vacancy stemming from the departure of member Steve Marchese.

Marchese, who played an instrumental role in forcing school start time changes in 2019-20, resigned effective Sunday after landing a job in Seattle.

He will head that city's Office of Labor Standards pending a City Council vote on Monday.

Last week, the St. Paul school board approved a plan to fill the seat on an interim basis, saying it will accept applications until 5 p.m. March 9 and then interview candidates and appoint a replacement on March 16. In November, voters will decide who will serve the final two years of Marchese's term.

Typically, the board has sought to deter people who seek interim appointments from running for election. But it broke from that practice last year when it appointed Jim Vue to succeed the late Chairwoman Marny Xiong, who died of COVID-19. Vue said at that time he intended to run and he went on to win election last fall to complete the final year of Xiong's term.

Marchese's departure means four seats, a board majority, will be on the November ballot.

During his five years on the board, Marchese asked tough questions of administrators and pushed hard for the state's second-largest district to finally embrace the lessons of sleep science by shifting high school start times ahead an hour. He also questioned police presence in the schools four years before the board voted in 2020 to remove school resource officers.

Last week, Marchese said St. Paul is a "very generous and amazing community" and he would keep a piece of it in his heart as he heads west. He also said the district needs to work through trust issues caused by last year's teachers strike — a challenge he said had to be set aside as the district grapples with the pandemic.

Board Member Zuki Ellis, who came aboard with Marchese in the "Caucus for Change" movement of 2015, said they had the shared experience of being both board members and parents and that he was a reassuring voice in stressful times.

"Not everyone you work with becomes your friend, but you have been that and much more," she said.

Anthony Lonetree • 612-673-4109