What began as a discussion of how to fill a vacancy on the USD 373 Board of Education ended with the appointment of a new member Sept. 26 at McKinley Administrative Center.
The board voted 4-1 to bring back a member of old — Allen Jantz of Newton. Jantz once served two terms on the board of education, from 1995 to 2003, before not running for re-election. "I am attracted to having someone with experience, and in multiple ways," said Steve Richards before casting his vote in support of Jantz joining the board to finish a term vacated by Rep. Tim Hodge earlier this month.
Richards told members of the board he was in his second year on the board, and the learning curve has been steep. There will be three new members joining the board in January, each filling a seat that has been — or will be — vacated by current members.
There are six candidates running for the board education seats, with an election Nov. 7. Current board member Matt Treaster spoke in favor of having the fourth-place finisher in that election finish Hodge's term.
"They have shown an interest and they will have been through that process," Treaster said. "Let voters decide."
That idea, however, seemingly died when Carol Sue Stayrook Hobbs told board members that in the past the process has included interviews of prospective board members in a desire to appoint a member who could represent the outgoing member. She told members of the board that Hodge had spoken with Jantz about the position. As result of Hodge's inquiry, Hobbs also spoke with Jantz.
It was his experience, both as a member of the board and as a professor of education — including a year-long sabbatical teaching in Wichita schools last year — that led to four members of the current board to seriously consider the appointment.
"The amount of time it would take for him to get up to speed would be minimal," Hobbs said.
"(Jantz) has been very involved in education his entire career," said Dick Koontz, member of the board. "He would be very, very good on the board."
Current board member Barbara Bunting noted two members of Jantz's family currently work in the school district — his wife is the administrative assistant to the superintendent and board secretary while his daughter is a physical therapist for a cooperative operated by Newton schools. She also noted there is no policy preventing board members having family working for the district.
"I would be fine with appointing him immediately if that was the will of the board," Bunting said.
Jantz holds a bachelor's degree from Bethel College, master's degree from Wichita State University, a Specialist in Education from Wichita State University and a doctorate in education with a research focus from Wichita State University.