Apr 07, 2021 1:00 PM

St. Joseph school district, board incumbents move on after election losses

Posted Apr 07, 2021 1:00 PM
School Board Vice President Lute Atieh and community member Mike Moore watch as election returns come in / Photo by Whitnee Ice
School Board Vice President Lute Atieh and community member Mike Moore watch as election returns come in / Photo by Whitnee Ice

By WHITNEE ICE

St. Joseph Post

St. Joseph voters rejected the 107 million dollar school bond issue that would have turned the American Family Insurance regional headquarters into a second high school and remodeled Central High school.

School Board President Tammi Pasley, in her statement on behalf of the school board, says something has to change.

"The voters have spoken and we the board respect that," says Pasley to the St. Joseph Post. "What is clear is that status quo is not sustainable. While we are disappointed that this bond initiative was not successful, it is the beginning of a discussion with the community that our facilities are not up to 21 Century educational standards."

All three incumbents on the St. Joseph School Board: Lute Atieh, Larry Koch, and Rick Gehring lost their seats to Kenneth Reeder, David Foster, and LaTonya Williams according to unofficial results.

Incumbent Rick Gehring and community member Mike Moore converse as the polls come in / Photo by Whitnee Ice
Incumbent Rick Gehring and community member Mike Moore converse as the polls come in / Photo by Whitnee Ice

Incumbent Rick Gehring says he was disappointed in the election outcome.

"It was a great learning experience, I don't regret anything," says Gehring. "As I said, I am disappointed by the outcome tonight. I am concerned for the future of our district, but I'm not going anywhere as long as I have kids in the district I'm going to have a voice and try to do what I can."

School Board Vice President Lute Atieh says the school board still has some great members.

"The change of board members really doesn't change the situation that we're in," says Atieh. "We must adapt. We must change."

Superintendent Doug Van Zyl says the outcome of the election was a disappointment.

"I think with anything, any time you have an election you have to take a look at what the voters have said and I think the voters have had their opportunity to say what they wanted to say and of course it's disappointing," says Van Zyl. "I'm very proud of what the work that our administrative team and the board put in to try to put a plan together but obviously that's why you have elections. People have the opportunity to voice their opinions through their votes."

Under the bond proposal, Benton High School and Lafayette High School would have been turned into middle schools and the district would have ended the three-high school model in exchange for a new two-high school model.

School board members await the final election results / Photo: Whitnee Ice
School board members await the final election results / Photo: Whitnee Ice