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