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Brainerd School Board appoints Bob Nystrom to temporary seat

Nystrom will serve for only the November meeting as a replacement for Jana Shogren, who resigned earlier this year.

Bob Nystrom (1).jpg
Bob Nystrom.
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BRAINERD — Longtime Brainerd School Board member Bob Nystrom will return to the board for one meeting.

Board members appointed him Monday, Sept. 12, to temporarily fill the vacancy left by Jana Shogren earlier this year.

Shogren announced her resignation in July after purchasing a house just outside the district, and her last day on the board was Sept. 2 after closing on her house.

While the district will have a special election on the ballot this November for a candidate to fill the last two years of Shogren’s four-year term, Superintendent Heidi Hahn told the board in August the state requires a vacancy to be filled by appointment if it occurs more than 60 days or more than two School Board meetings before the election. This year’s general election falls on Nov. 8, meaning Shogren’s resignation fell just outside the 60-day range.

Board Chair Ruth Nelson said Monday she reached out to Nystrom, who accepted the position.

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“I’m very honored that they picked me,” Nystrom said during a phone interview Monday night after having to leave the meeting early. “ … My political career is over, and I just think that I can do a good job even though it’s very brief.”

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Nystrom previously served 17 years on the board but resigned last October, citing both family health concerns and heavy, ongoing community criticism of School Board members.

State statute requires a 30-day waiting period after a board appoints someone to fill a vacancy before the appointment takes effect. This period allows for members of the public to petition against the appointee if they so choose. So if the board appoints someone at the September meeting, that 30 days would not yet be up before the October board meeting, meaning the first meeting the appointee could attend as a board member would be the November meeting.

And because the election to fill that position is a special election, the person elected can take office as soon as the election results are certified and could begin serving in December. Nystrom, then, would only serve for one meeting.

Instead of going through the process of interviewing candidates for the short-term seat, Hahn told board members a recommendation from the Minnesota State School Board Association was to appoint a former board member who is not running for election but is familiar with procedures.

The election

Nine candidates filed to run for the two, two-year seats on the board this year. One is Shogren’s seat, while the other is the final two years of Nystrom’s seat, after Sarah Speer was appointed to take his place last winter until this year’s election.

Eight of the candidates took a few minutes to introduce themselves to the board at Monday’s meeting, and Nystrom said he believes the board will be in good hands with those who are running.

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“I heard the word ‘compassion’ a lot. I heard community, love for the school district and doing the best job for the kids, and that’s what we need,” Nystrom said. “We need community support, but we also need people that are willing to step up when the need is there. So I think the board will be just fine.”

The candidates for the two-year seats on this year’s ballot are: Anthony Bonsante, Michelle Brekken, Tris Cluever, Jessica Forsberg, Trevor Mulholland, Mike Stanek, David Stimac, John Ward and Brent Yaunick.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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