Anchorage School Board could be filling more than one vacant seat

Board member Starr Marsett announced her resignation October 1st, Andy Holleman is currently running for a Senate seat
Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 6:05 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - At Tuesday night’s Anchorage School Board meeting, the board used the end of the meeting to discuss its plans moving forward after board member Starr Marsett announced her resignation on Oct. 1.

“No one knows what lies ahead and I want to spend that time with my husband and enjoy the years we have left,” Marsett said.

Marsett’s final board meeting will be on Jan. 5, 2021. The board asked her to provide a written notice 30 days prior to that date giving authorization to the board to post the opening of the position and to move forward in the replacement process.

The last time the school board had a member resign was in September of 2018. The late Senator Bettye Davis stepped down due to health issues. Davis' term was due to end in April of 2019. At that time the board chose to fill the seat with Mark Foster. It was Foster’s wish to fill the role until the general election and step down. The seat was eventually won by Margo Bellamy.

“Last time around we chose somebody who did have a lot of knowledge in the district and didn’t want to run for re-election,” board member Deena Mitchell said.

The school board doesn’t know if they will have that luxury this time around. Mitchell expressed concerns for anyone filling the role would only be doing so for around four months. That person would have to use that time to get up to speed on the school board and also develop a campaign strategy to be elected in order to fulfill the remaining year on Marsett’s term.

“I wouldn’t want the board to even engage in any discussion where anybody sitting at home and say, ‘Well, there’s not much point for me putting my name is. It should be open to everyone,’” board member Andy Holleman said.

Board member Dave Donley, Marsett and Holleman said it’s the school board’s duty to include the public in the process and anyone who wants to take on the challenge should be allowed to.

“We’re going to get a pool of applicants, we got about 40 last time, no two of them were alike,” Holleman said.

Another wildcard in the mix is Holleman himself who is currently running for a seat in the state senate. Should Holleman win his race, it will open up yet another school board seat that will need to be filled the same way.

The board expects to start candidate interviews in early to mid-January and name Marsett’s replacement at the Jan. 19, 2021 school board meeting.

Besides Marsett and possibly Holleman, the board could also see three new faces on the board next April as current President Elisa Vakalis along with board members Alisha Hilde and Deena Mitchell are also up for reelection

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