The three members of the Dillingham City School District board appointed Kim Williams and Bernina Venua to vacant seats Monday night. Luke Villnave, a former teacher, received support in his bid, but the board favored the experience of Williams and Venua, both past members. A fourth applicant, Chelsea Ayars, said prior to the meeting she learned she was not eligible as her family lives outside of city limits.
The school board has experienced significant turnover since the election. Patty Buholm and Emily Hulett are both new members elected in October. Corey Evans' first term expires next year; he's currently acting as the board chair.
Voters chose Hulett over Williams, who had squared off on the ballot for one of the seats. Another seat had no candidates and remained vacant until Monday night. The seat held by Patty Luckhurst opened when she passed away this month.
The three interested candidates introduced themselves to the board and fielded a few questions.
"I chose to run, I put my name in the hat, and lost to Emily," Williams said, eliciting a few laughs with her open remarks. "We finally got to meet. I followed her, every time she put up a sign, I put up a sign. I've served on this board before, many years, and what I'd like to bring to the board is that experience."
Venua also has experience, having served as school board president for a time before she lost a reelection in 2014. Last spring she was appointed to a seat vacated by Tonya O'Connor, who became Magistrate Judge. Venua did not run for the seat in the election, but sought appointment to it afterwards.
Asked her priorities if welcomed back to the board she just weeks ago stepped down from, she mentioned continued stewardship of the finances in these tough times and helping guide the search for the district's top administrator.
"I would like the focus to be on that superintendent search because it's such a key thing, and working on the budget. Making sure that the budget aligns with where we to go as a district, and where we want the youth's education to be," said Venua.
The vote to appoint Williams appeared to be two to one, and the vote to appoint Venua was two to one. Both were seated and the meeting continued on with the full board.
Interim superintendent Glen Szymoniak had the second half of his contract with the district approved. He will serve through the end of the academic year, but has also signaled his interest in the permanent job. The vetting and hiring of candidates for DCSD's next superintendent is expected to ramp up after the first of year.