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So... you want to be a school board member?: District to host open house for prospective candidates July 19

Though it seems as though the 2018 general elections are still far in the future, filing for prospective school board candidates starts just under three weeks from today — and the seats of the board's three most senior members, David Langworthy, Brenda Muckenhirn and Kylie Johnson, are the ones that will be up for grabs.

"It's looking like there may be at least two vacancies on the board," says District Superintendent Doug Froke, adding that Langworthy and Muckenhirn have both indicated it's unlikely they will seek another term.

If they choose not to run, whoever decides to step up and fill those vacancies is likely to have considerably less experience in school government than their predecessors, as Langworthy has been on the board since January 2006 and Muckenhirn, since she was elected in 2010. (Johnson is about to complete her first four-year term on the board, after being elected in 2014, while the other three members, Amy Erickson, John Steffl and Jane Foltz, were all elected in 2016, and took office in January of last year.)

Because of this, Froke said, the district's leadership decided that now would be a good time to hold an informational session with prospective candidates, to discuss the district's finances, budget, staffing, and "everything that a school board member does."

This meeting, which is set for 6:30 p.m. next Thursday, July 19, in the media center at Rossman Elementary School, is intended to be "very informal," Froke added.

"It will probably be about an hour to an hour and a half long," he said, "and there will be refreshments served."

The gathering will begin with a presentation that covers everything from the district's $40 million annual budget to its staffing, food service and transportation programs.

"We are still the second largest employer in Detroit Lakes," Froke said, "and we run the single largest transit service in the county. We also serve over 400,000 meals annually."

Another topic for discussion will be the time commitment involved in becoming a school board member: Froke said there are times when they need to spend 20 hours a week or more reviewing information about different policies and programs being considered for action at the next meeting, as well as in the actual meetings themselves, which can run 2-3 hours (though they usually don't).

"We'll also answer any questions they may have," he added. "Refreshments will also be served."

The filing period for the 2018 school board elections will open at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 31 and close at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 14. Those who file by Aug. 14 will be on the ballot for the 2018 general election, which is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, Nov. 6. The three top vote-getters in the school board election will each serve a four-year term. The cost to file for one of the open seats is $2 per person; prospective candidates must file their affidavits of candidacy at the School Administration Center, located at at 702 Lake Ave. in Detroit Lakes, before 5 p.m. on Aug. 14. For more information, please call the district office at 218-847-9271.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 18-plus years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Detroit Lakes School Board. 

(218) 844-1454