New Abilene school board members Robert Keener and Veronica Murray officially joined the USD 435 Board of Education meeting.
The two, along with veteran members Randy Gassman and Jennifer Waite, took the oath of office administered by Clerk of the Board Joan Anderson Monday night during the January monthly meeting.
All four were elected during the Nov. 5 General Election.
After approving the agenda, the first major piece of business was electing board officers, thanks to Senate Bill 130 — which became effective in April 2019. The new law changes the time when school boards elect their president and vice president and sets regular board meeting times and dates.
Traditionally, election of officers has occurred in July during the annual re-organization meeting.
Superintendent Greg Brown told members the legislature said they could continue to elect officers as they have in the past, but they still had to address it in January.
“They left it up to the local school board to continue to do so in July. That said, if you continue to choose your officers in July, then you have to talk about it every January,” Brown said.
The change was driven by a Kansas law passed several years ago that moved local elections from the spring to the fall. That means school board members are elected in November instead of April.
“I’m willing to guess the thought in Topeka was if we had four absolutely brand new board members, they wanted to make sure something took place so those should have the privilege of becoming an officer in their new position,” Brown explained.
The Abilene school board approved two resolutions: The first sets board elections for January and the second is a resolution establishing the board’s regular meeting dates.
The board then elected Kyle Becker as president and Randy Gassman as vice-president by unanimous ballot. Both previously were elected as officers in July.
The board also set the monthly meeting date as the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the district office, the same as before.
Brown presented tokens of appreciation to members, explaining that January is school board recognition month.
“It’s neat to have our brand new board members here,” Brown said. “Congratulations to all four of you on the process of being elected.”
He commented that many people do not realize that school board members are not paid for their service.
“So this is truly a voluntary position,” Brown said. “It’s an outstanding way to serve your community.”
Brown told the board they would be recognized formally during the halftime of the Abilene High School boys’ basketball game Friday night at AHS.
Contact Kathy Hageman at firstname.lastname@example.org.