BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – With the tragic passing of Fort Madison school board member Gayla Young on Dec. 31, the Fort Madison school district is under a pretty tight timeline to appoint her replacement, and is actively seeking members of the district to step into the vacancy.
At Monday’s Fort Madison Community School District Board of Directors workshop held at the Fort Madison Middle School, the board gave Superintendent Dr. Erin Slater a consensus to put a notice out that the district is actively looking for someone to fill Young’s position.
According to state code, the district has 30 days from Young’s vacancy to appoint someone to fill the position, otherwise the vacancy must be filled with a special election at a cost to the taxpayers.
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Iowa code 279.6, also states that eligible voters in the district can call for a special election with 14 days of the publishing of the notice to fill the vacancy by appointment. Anyone wanting the position to be filled by a special election would have to petition the district and the petition would have to include either 100 eligible signatures or 30% of the voters in the last general school board election. In Sept. 2017, 1,762 ballots were cast which would indicate unofficially that 529 signatures would be required to call for a special election.
If no one steps forward and the district can’t find someone to appoint to the board by Jan. 30, District Secretary Sandy Elmore would be required to call for a special election no earlier than March 2 and no later than March 12, according to current code.
However, Slater said the state has changed the specifics of special elections recently and she is checking with the Iowa Association of School Boards for guidance on any special election language.
Current board member Brian Steffensmeier was also appointed to the board in August when Jillian Troxel had to step down due to relocating to Wisconsin. According to a spokesperson with the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, both Steffensmeier and any new appointee would be also be up for election on any ballot for a referendum to build a new elementary school, which may be in front of voters in the spring.
Those interested in serving on the school board can either pick up an application at the district’s central office or fill out an application at the following link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BDW4sfyV9euUe8Zp9zQtgDx8f-HzwlSQ/view
Applications are due at the Central Office by Jan. 21 at 4 p.m.