The Duluth School Board picked a new board chair and swore in a new member Monday night.
By a 6-1 vote, board member Jill Lofald was nominated as the new board chair. Board member Alanna Oswald was also nominated for the position and cast the lone vote for herself.
"I've enjoyed the work that is a part of being on the Duluth School Board. This past year I served as the vice chair, at times stepping into the chair's role and other times filling in for the board clerk," Lofald said. "All of these roles have given me a firm grounding in board leadership. I will carry with me the mentoring of former board chairs, Rosie Loeffler-Kemp and David Kirby. We are a team and each board member possesses skills that are valuable for our ability to serve the students of District 709. I look forward to continuing the strong team focus our board represents."
Lofald replaces Loeffler-Kemp as chair who said she was not seeking a second term as chair because one of her daughters is graduating and another is getting married this summer.
“As you know with me, family comes first,” Loeffler-Kemp said.
Oswald was re-elected to serve as clerk, board member Kelly Durick Eder was elected to the vice chair position and board member Sally Trnka was elected treasurer.
Paul Sandholm was sworn in as a new board member Monday night. He replaces Nora Sandstad on the board after she decided not to seek a second term. Oswald and Kirby were also sworn in after winning re-elections in November.
Also at the meeting, as part of the yearly housekeeping, the board approved a resolution by a 5-2 vote raising the limit for contracts that can be signed by the superintendent and CFO without board approval from $25,000 to $100,000.
Trnka and Oswald voted against raising the limit. Trnka said even though the district is in a better financial situation than last year, she feels raising the limit by $75,000 was more than she is comfortable with.
CFO Cathy Erickson said this would be mostly to help with annual contracts, so they do not get delayed since the board only holds one meeting a month. Erickson also said that if there were any new or unexpected contracts within the limit that she would suggest, in conference with the superintendent, that the contract be brought to the School Board.
Oswald said she understands the explanation and agrees with it; she voted no because those explanations are not attached to the policy.
“I also don’t think the jump from $25,000 to $100,000 is going to sit well with the community,” she said.
The board also voted the News Tribune as its legal newspaper.