Bloomington school board discusses filling Wiklund’s seat

Melissa Halvorson Wiklund’s election to the Minnesota State Senate means the Bloomington Board of Education will have a seat to fill.

When, and how, her seat will be filled remains unclear.

Wiklund, the board chairwoman, was elected to represent Senate District 50 earlier this month, which will require her to resign from the school board. When a board member resigns, the remaining board members choose the replacement.

In making that decision, the board can establish any procedure it wishes, according to board attorney David Holman.

Halvorson has yet to resign, and doesn’t take office in St. Paul until January, so she is not obligated to submit her resignation immediately. But knowing the resignation is coming, Boardmember Tim Culver asked what the board could do in laying the groundwork for choosing her replacement.

Wiklund may be a part of those discussions, but she cannot participate in the choosing of her replacement, Holman noted. It will be up to the six remaining members to make that decision.

“A lot of boards go through an application process,” according to Greg Abbott, director of communications for the Minnesota School Boards Association.

The application form may be as simple or as complex as the board chooses. And when the application period is closed, the board may choose Wiklund’s replacement based upon the applications, or it could continue the process with interviews of some or all of the applicants, Abbott said.

Should the board choose to interview applicants, interviews would have to be conducted in an open meeting, Holman noted.

An application process is a common procedure, but boards have also taken simpler routes in choosing an interim member, according to Abbott.

An appointment may be made if a majority of the board agrees with a nomination made by one of its members, absent any application or screening process, Abbott explained. Sometimes that nomination is for a former board member who could quickly catch up on school district business, he noted.

Culver raised the question during the board’s Nov. 13 meeting, and suggested forming a task force of up to three board members to guide the appointment process. No decision was made, however, on which direction the board will take.

The primary recommendation the Minnesota School Boards Association makes to its members: “Don’t leave it vacant,” Abbott said. “You have to fill it.”

Whatever the process, the appointee will serve out the remainder of Wiklund’s term, which expires at the end of 2013. Her seat is one of four that is up for election next year.