Hugs, tears and words of thanks abounded Monday night as three outgoing Shakopee School Board members attended their final meeting.
Board members Scott Swanson, Shawn Hallett, Tony Pass and Judi Tomczik complete their terms on Dec. 31, though Tomczik was elected to serve a four-year term starting in January.
Board members-elect Joe Aldrich, Kristi Peterson and Paul Christiansen will be sworn in alongside Tomczik.
At the end of Monday’s meeting, Director of Teaching and Learning Nancy Thul acknowledged Swanson, Hallett and Pass and thanked them for their service.
“It often saddens me that the work … is overshadowed by really terrible actions on the part of the former superintendent,” Thul said. “While I can completely sympathize with the community on their feelings, I really feel it shouldn’t overshadow the work that is being done in the district.”
Thul went on to list off some of the board’s accomplishments in recent years, including the implementation of the academy curriculum model, instructional coach model, Center for Advanced Professional Studies program, elective course redesign and the construction project that doubled the size of Shakopee High School.
“This work would not have happened without the support of this board, and I want to thank all three of you for making a difference in the lives of our students,” Thul said.
Through tears, Hallett said she’s proud of the work the board has done. She joked that she won’t know what to do with her time going forward.
“My husband likes to joke a lot that there can’t possibly be a board who has put in more hours than we have these past five years,” Hallett said. “This has been the hardest but most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life. We have built a legacy and weathered a storm together.”
Swanson has served on the board seven years and was chosen as chairman in 2017 by his fellow board members. He inherited the chairman role just two months before the district’s projected $4.5 million shortfall became public. On Monday, he joked that the last two years have taken 10 years off his life.
He said he hopes future board members learn from his conduct as a leader, whether they think he was right or wrong.
“Let the new board members that are coming on decide if there was a lesson to be learned,” he said. “I’m sure I did some things OK, and I’m sure I did some things horribly wrong. Learn from what I did and what we did as a group.”