6 applicants vie for open seat on Billings SD2 board

2011-12-05T16:34:00Z 2011-12-06T08:55:03Z 6 applicants vie for open seat on Billings SD2 boardBy ROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
December 05, 2011 4:34 pm  • 

With the Monday deadline passed, six West End residents have applied for the open seat on the Billings School District 2 board.

The six individuals are:

  • John Eisen, architect and owner of K-12 Consultants.
  • Allen J. Halter, general manager of Allegra Marketing Print Mail.
  • Leo C. Hart, former clerk at Broadview School and currently an accountant for Lodge Grass schools.
  • Mary Jo Fox, past trustee and an employee with the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch Foundation.
  • Michael Leo, a principal at Leo & Associates, a grant making foundation.
  • Jeff Ogletree, director of patient financial services for Billings Clinic.

"I'm happy with the response," said Leo Hudetz, board clerk. "It's the most I've ever seen."

Applicants are vying for the seat vacated by chairwoman Barbara Bryan following her October resignation.

To be eligible, the applicants are required to have lived for a year in Zone 6 — which includes the neighborhoods along Poly Drive and Rimrock Road from about Glenwood Lane out to the Ironwood and Yellowstone Country Club subdivision.

Hudetz said he's still working on verifying the eligibility of all six applicants. If all meet the requirements, they'll interview with the board at its 5:30 p.m. meeting on Dec. 12.

Trustees could make their selection that night. By law, they have until Jan. 21 to decide, 60 days from when they declared Bryan's seat vacant on Nov. 21.

The term for Zone 6 expires in May, meaning whoever is appointed will have to run this spring in order to keep the seat.

Bryan's resignation from the board on Oct. 18 capped months of turmoil within SD2's leadership and followed a vote by the board earlier in the month to terminate the contract of Superintendent Keith Beeman.

Bryan had placed on the board's agenda at its September meeting a proposal to extend Beeman's contract through 2014. The contract was to expire next summer.

Bryan, along with trustees Greta Besch Moen, Connie Wardell and Kathy Aragon, advocated passionately for Beeman. But by that point, ill will among teachers and administrators had soured to such a degree against Beeman, and feelings of mistrust had grown enough on the board that Beeman's contract extension was voted down 5-4.

Weeks later, the board voted 5-4 again to terminate the contract outright. Bryan had been one of Beeman's staunchest supporters.

Finally, when discussion came up at the board's October meeting on how best to find an interim superintendent to take Beeman's place, divisions again rose along the same 5-4 split. Trustees were divided over using an outside company to perform the interim superintendent search or to advertise regionally for the job.

In the end, the board voted 5-4 against Bryan's wishes to bring in an outside firm to help. She announced her resignation the following afternoon.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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