• Last modified 2378 days ago (Oct. 17, 2012)


Value in public service

Jana Nordquist, Brenda Odgers, and Dick Varenhorst deserve credit for volunteering time and energy as USD 408 looked for someone to fill a vacancy on the Board of Education left by the departure of Keith Collett. It takes a very community-minded person to offer their time as a school board member — not just in meetings, but preparing for meetings and when a member of the community just wants to talk about school issues.

The board’s decision to not select one of those candidates for the vacancy shouldn’t be taken as a reflection that there is anything wrong with any of the candidates. Nordquist is a mother with several school-aged children, and parents provide a vital voice in education, because they know what students are saying about school when they get home. Odgers has a strong education background as a teacher and administrator, including as principal at Marion High School, so she knows about the challenges schools face. Varenhorst has a teaching background as well, and a track record that shows great interest in public affairs.

And obviously all three have an interest in and passion for education. Otherwise, why would they offer themselves as choices for a school board vacancy? The simple fact that they would volunteer for school board — not necessarily the most high profile of elected bodies — speaks to their qualifications.

Anyone willing to serve in leadership positions should be commended and encouraged. I certainly hope the school board’s decision to leave the vacancy on the board unfilled for now doesn’t discourage anyone — including Nordquist, Odgers, or Varenhorst — from filing for the election in the spring. We need more people who take an interest in the public good.


Last modified Oct. 17, 2012