The Shakopee School Board officially has three fresh faces on it.
New board members Joe Aldrich, Paul Christiansen and Kristi Peterson, along with incumbent Judi Tomczik, took their oaths of office Monday to begin their four-year terms.
Tomczik was first appointed to the board last year and sworn in in June. She was elected to a full term by voters in November. Aldrich, Christiansen and Tomczik replace former board members Scott Swanson, Tony Pass and Shawn Hallett.
Aldrich said it feels like ages since the November election and he’s happy to finally take his seat.
“It just seems like so long since Election Day. It’s been two months and a week, so it’s kind of a relief. I’m just ready to serve and ready to do my part,” he said. “It should be a thrill.”
The newly comprised school board’s first meeting consisted of a slew of housekeeping items like electing a chairperson and designating everything from the school district’s official depository — Old National Bank — to its newspaper of record — the Shakopee Valley News. Board members also approved their own annual salaries at the same rate as last year: $4,500 for board members and $5,000 for the chair and vice chair.
Though the organizational meeting was a calm way to ease into business, Christiansen admitted he was a little nervous Monday.
“It finally is settling in, and now the work begins,” he said. “I had some butterflies throughout the day but I was able to manage.”
The board chose Reggie Bowerman, who has served since 2008, as chairman. Board members then chose Tomczik as vice chairwoman, Aldrich as treasurer and Angela Tucker, who has been on the board since 2012, as clerk.
All four newly sworn-in members said they’re excited to dig in and learn more about the workings of the district. They are all headed to Minnesota School Board Association training this week.
“I think there’s obviously going to be some challenges within the district and some old topics that’ll come to the surface again, like facilities use and the future of Central Family Center and Pearson (Sixth Grade Center),” Peterson said. Pearson Sixth Grade Center was scheduled to be turned into a kindergarten through fifth grade elementary school for the 2018-19 school year, but the board decided last year to temporarily close it to save money.
“I’m really looking forward to this week of going to the conference and learning all the different ins and outs of being a board member,” Peterson added.
Though Tomczik has had a chance to dip her toes into board work since her appointment in June, she feels like this is where the work truly begins.
“I’ve learned so much already, but this does feel kind of like a fresh start,” Tomczik said. “I’m excited about getting to work. We’ve been talking about this since we first signed up to run for office in August, and now we’re all here and going to training this week.”