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School Board will let voters fill vacant seat

Colby Coren Colby Coren

The Henderson County School Board will let the voters decide who will fill board vacancy created when Colby Coren resigned to take a teaching position in the county school system.

Elected in 2014, Coren resigned after the last School Board meeting to take a job as a fifth grade teaching assistant at Clear Creek Elementary School.

"It's fantastic," he said after his school day on Monday. "I told somebody I learned more in two days than I did in the last 3½ years. I decided education is what I want to be in."

After spending more than 30 meetings debating and adopting education policy, Coren is enjoying his first-hand engagement in the process.

"I think definitely sesing the day-to-day operation is a huge difference," he said. "What blew me away in the first two days was the level of professionalism of our staff and that they were doing peer-to-peer professional develoopment. They didn’t need anybody from DPI (the state Department of Public Instruction) because we have teachers that are highly qualified and can do it."

The work is hard but rewarding. "I was in bed by 8 o’clock every night the first few weeks," he said. Coren is pursuing an education degree from the online Western Governors University and plans to earn a teachers certificate. He had announced last winter that he would not seek re-election.

School Board Chair Amy Lynn Holt called on board attorney Chris Campbell to address the subject of a vacancy.

"If you have a vacancy on the board you are to replace the vacancy," Campbell said. "You can decide whether it is prudent” to act right away or wait. “If you were to decide to wait to the November election, I can see no legal harm, I can see no dereliction of duty, given that there’s only one official meeting between now and the election. While the statute is clear, I see no legal problem with waiting until after the election.”

Blair Craven said it would be impractical to appoint someone for one or two meetings.

“I think I read 200 pages of policy along with 450 pages worth of RFQs (requests for qualifications) from architects,” he said. “We’ve put in the time and effort and I don’t think it’s fair to bring someone on board for what’s essentially a month or two months as a substitute placeholder. My vote would be we wait until November to fill the seat and voters will decide who’s going to sit in it.”

“I definitely don’t think we should fill it with someone who is running for the board," Wood said. "That would be unfair to the other candidates.”

Michael Absher said the board, now with six members, could have a problem if it deadlocked in a 3-3 vote.

"If we are going to replace it we would need a candidate back next month, so you’re looking at them serving just for November and that’s it," Holt said. "I don’t see any harm in just letting it be and if we have a 3-3 vote on anything we could table it to the next meeting."

Besides Coren, board member Lisa Edwards is leaving when her term ends. Holt is the only incumbent among six candidates on the ballot.