Milton School Board candidate replaces member who resigned

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Jake Magee
Monday, April 25, 2016

MILTON—Karen Hall, who lost the April election by a few dozen votes to incumbent Betsy Lubke and newcomer Don Vruwink, will end up on the Milton School Board after all.

The board voted 5-1 Monday to appoint Hall to replace Janet Green, who unexpectedly resigned early this month.

Throughout her campaign, Hall noted her desire to address what she saw as the public's growing distrust of the board. Such issues still exist, but they're getting better, Hall said.

“The board has made some progress, but I think they have a long way to go,” she said. “I think if we as a board continue to push forward, we'll get a warmer reception.”

Live streaming meetings and listening sessions are examples of positive steps the board has recently taken, Hall said.

Shelly Crull-Hanke was the only member to oppose appointing Hall, saying she wanted to appoint a former board member to have “continuity and streamlining” on the board as it deals with an upcoming referendum. It would be difficult for a newcomer to catch up on 18 months' worth of information, she said.

“I felt that the consistency for the process that we've been going through, since it's only going to be a 10-month position, that it would really help having someone who's already been in the position knowing what's going on in the district,” Crull-Hanke said after the meeting.

Under state statute, Hall will hold her seat until the next election, when she will have to run for election, Superintendent Tim Schigur said.

Green had two years left on her seat when she resigned, he said.

Other board members agreed with Crull-Hanke but also thought Hall should get the vacant seat.

“We're going through some pretty serious times, and it would really be nice to have a board member with some experience,” board member Tom Westrick said.

However, Hall did get a lot of votes in the recent election, he said.

“That person did receive quite a few votes, and I think that's indicative of what our constituents were interested in…” board member Betsy Lubke said. “Since it was so close, I really do think the best thing for the board to do is to appoint the next runner-up in terms of votes.”

Hall has had brief conversations with board President Jon Cruzan and told him she's interested in serving on the board.

Hall will be sworn in at the board's next meeting Monday, May 9.


Barry Brandt, co-chairman of the Facilities Advisory Community Team, or FACT, extended an invitation Monday to another resident group that is also studying the school district's facilities needs.

Two FACT members have resigned for personal or work-related reasons. Brandt asked the school board to allow FACT to ask two members of the Citizens Commission on School District Facilities to fill the vacant seats.

Results from a survey that 48 FACT nominees took indicated most wanted a 20-person group. FACT ended up with 22 members after three nominees tied for 20th place in a self-selection process.

“It was just the number they (the board) approved, and so we thought it gives us the opportunity to add two more members,” Brandt said.

About a dozen of the 26 nominees who didn't make it onto FACT formed the commission to come up with their own referendum recommendation.

“They've done some organization and seem to be more engaged than anybody else, and so it seemed obvious to us to reach out to those folks,” Brandt said. “We're excited to have them join us.”

“It's a really nice offer,” said Brett Frazier, former mayor and a current commission member who was surprised by Brandt's offer. “There's a group of citizens who weren't included in the first FACT committee, organized together and had been having similar conversations—some different conversations—and so the offer to include some of those people from the second group is a good one. It makes sense.”

Frazier couldn't say who the two commission members who join FACT will be, but the commission will likely make a decision before FACT's Wednesday night meeting.


Also Monday, the school board approved extending the contract for Plunkett Raysich Architects through the summer.

The school district originally hired the firm to consult on its facilities plans through January. Because the firm is still working for the district through FACT, the board approved an addendum to its contract.

The additional contract fees total $26,000. If voters approve a facilities referendum, $10,000 of those fees would be credited to the original project and contract, according to a memo Schigur sent to the board.

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