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School Board succeeds in putting question on ballot PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 24 January 2018 18:55

PW-S officials collect enough signatures to ask voters in April whether to change the way long-vacant seat is filled

    It came down to the wire, but the Port Washington-Saukville School Board has collected enough signatures to ask voters on the April 3 ballot to change the way one of its members is elected, Supt. Michael Weber said Tuesday.
    Board members who had circulated petitions for months reached a total of 550 signatures just hours before the deadline Tuesday, Jan. 23. After duplicate signatures and those of people who don’t live in the School District were eliminated, the total stood at 512 — 12 more than needed to put the question on the spring ballot.
    “All the board’s time and effort paid off,” Weber said.
    The ballot question will ask voters if a board seat that represents a small area of the district and has long been vacant should be changed to an at-large position that can be filled by a person living anywhere in the district.
    The board would remain at nine members, and the new seat would replace one that currently represents a small section of the towns of Saukville and Grafton. That seat has been vacant since October 2015, and with only about 350 registered voters living in this area, a candidate to run for the position, or even a person willing to apply for a board appointment, has been elusive.
    Board bylaws currently call for the board to consist of five members from the City of Port Washington, two from the Village of Saukville and one each from the Town of Port Washington and the towns of Saukville and Grafton. The proposed change would only affect the Saukville-Grafton town seat.
    Although board members represent specific areas of the district, all voters may vote for all candidates. For example, a Village of Saukville resident may vote for a City of Port Washington School Board candidate.
    If voters approve the change, it will not take effect until the three-year term of the current town of Saukville-Grafton seat expires in April 2019.
    “You wouldn’t think getting 500 signatures would be that difficult — the board didn’t think it would be — but it turns out it takes a lot of time,” Weber said earlier this month.
    The problem wasn’t that residents are opposed to the change, he said, but that it takes time to explain the issue to residents being asked to sign the petition.
    The School Board had intended to propose the change on the April 2017 ballot but fell short of the 500 signatures needed to present it to voters.
    This time around, board members circulated petitions at events where the proposed change can be explained to a number of people at once.
    A vacant Saukville-Grafton town seat was not always a problem. For 16 years it was occupied by Jim Eden, who served as board president for two of those years before resigning in March 2014.
    The board appointed Paul Krechel in July 2014. Krechel ran unopposed in the April 2015 election but resigned in October of that year.
    Despite the district’s efforts to find an appointee to fill the seat, as well as an April 2016 election that failed to attract a registered or even a write-in candidate, the seat has remained vacant since Krechel’s departure.Daily Press