MINOCQUA –Tom Gabert’s proposal to reduce the size of the Lakeland Union High School Board of Education is meeting resistance from some fellow board members.
The high school’s 9-member board – the largest of any school board in the area – comprises five at-large members and four assigned respectively to each of the public elementary school districts. Five-member boards govern those K-8 districts.
Gabert, the school board’s former chairman, would like to see two at-large school board seats eliminated. “A 9-member board gets to be large,” Gabert said. “It requires the administrator to cover a lot of different bases, communicate with a lot of different people. Seven (members) might make us a little more efficient, more coherent in terms of giving direction to the district ... moving forward.”
He had the district’s attorney prepare a draft resolution to effect the change at the district’s annual meeting. But meeting Tuesday, July 11th, the other three members of the policy committee that Gabert chairs said they had no overriding concerns about a 9-member board. “I don’t see any pressing need to change it,” said Barb Peck, of Presque Isle. “I like the diverse opinions. We are huge as a district.” LUHS District comprises 13 townships. The 9-member board apparently dates back to when the high school and four elementary school districts became unified, but each with its own board.
Barry Seidel, another board member, concurred. “I don’t see a problem with a 9-member board. I like the way it’s structured. I like the way the communities are represented. I know it gets cumbersome at times because we have so many people. I know it’s probably frustrating for the administrators to have a nine member ... nine person ... nine headed boss. “No question you can move more quickly with a smaller board” he continued, “more efficient in some ways. Main disadvantage is that representation factor.”
The matter goes before the full school board Monday, July 17th as a report from the policy committee. If it picks up support there, and the board passes a resolution to adopt the petition, then it would go to the Sept. 29th annual meeting to be voted upon by the electorate. Conceivably, anyone, including Gabert, could bring the petition to the annual meeting just as long as a minimum of 100 voters of the district have signed it and it’s filed 30 days before the meeting. Currently, each board member serves a 3-year term, and terms are staggered so that the three members are elected at each spring election.
If approved by a majority of the electorate, the reduction would occur as follows: 2018 election – Arbor Vitae-Woodruff and Lac du Flambeau districts seats; 2019 election – North Lakeland District and 1 at-large seat; and 2020 election – Minocqua-Hazelhurst-Lake Tomahawk District and 2 at-large seats.