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College board faces election, appointment

William Ferchland

One piece of evidence of the stability encapsulating Lake Tahoe Community College Board of Trustees is a plaque from1988 that sits on the wall next to the meeting room at the college.

For 17 years four of the five trustees listed on the plaque – Pat Amundson, Roberta Mason, Ken Rollston and Fritz Wenck – continued to meet in the room, discussing issues ranging from budget to facility improvements. Member Kerry David joined in 1992.

This month that continuity will end. Amundson, 79, passed away July 1. Her seat on the board, which she held for 20 years, is up for election this November along with those of Mason and David.

Both incumbents said they will seek reelection.

On Wednesday, the board unanimously agreed to seek a provisional replacement to fill the vacancy left by Amundson and set a timetable for a person to be brought on board by July 26.

According to education code, the appointment can be contested if 1.5 percent of registered voters sign a petition. Then a special election will be called if the county superintendent validates the signatures.

The other option was calling a special election at a cost of around $60,000 to the college, an illogical choice because of November’s election.

“Oh that’s ridiculous,” Mason said when the election option was raised.

The 30-minute meeting began with a moment of silence for Amundson, followed by a description of options by college President Guy Lease.

Looming decisions for the board include the budget and a process to renew accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Lease said.

But the immediate concern was by Kerry David on having enough members for a quorum. With member Ken Rollston absent, there were only three members on hand Wednesday. David said his father’s health is ailing and Wenck has vacation time planned.

“We’re barely here today,” David said.

The overall feeling was wanting to select somebody who will file candidacy when the period opens July 18 to run for a November election. While that might be questionable since trustees have run uncontested for at least a decade, Lease said he has spoken to people who have shown interest but didn’t want to challenge an incumbent.

“I’m expecting we’ll get a handful of people,” he said.

Underscoring the board’s longevity, Lease recalled a majority of the members hired him as president 15 years ago. James Duke, the previous and initial president of the college, said he went through “11 or 12” board members.

He would be correct. Since the college’s 1974 inception, 13 trustees have sat on the board, including the current four.

It wouldn’t be hard to imagine the new board member won’t feel a smidgen of intimidation or feel like a new student in school when joining the trustees.

Duke envisioned the toughest obstacle for a newcomer is to grasp the complexities of being a board member.

“Part of their longevity is I think the community thinks they’re doing a good job,” Duke said.

Wenck, who has been a trustee with the college since its inception (as has Mason), described Amundson as a “silent but very strong voice” on the board. He said the short-term goal is to improve morale at the college since raises haven’t been given in three years. Long-term concerns include affordable student housing and student recruitment.

“There’s fewer decisions (than at the college’s beginning), but right now in budget crisis the decisions we have to make are much more unpleasant. They’re not as fun as they used to be,” he said.

Wendy David has a unique perch to view the college board. As wife to Kerry David and herself the president of the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education, Wendy David was impressed with the longevity of the trustees’ tenure.

“I think that because the board has been together for a long time, they’ve really been able to move forward because dreams and goals were established years ago,” she said.

“I think it will probably be refreshing for them,” she added about the newcomer.

The provisional appointment will run through Dec. 2, when Amundson’s term was due to end.

A workshop is scheduled for July 19 at 6 p.m. in Room A106 for prospective board members interested in the provisional appointment.

Trustee Roberta Mason and Diane Woodruff, executive director of the Community College League of California, a statewide association representing trustees and administrators, will run the orientation, according to the college’s spokeswoman, Christina Proctor.

Application forms are now available at Lease’s office located in the college at One College Drive. Completed applications must be received at Lease’s office by 4 p.m. on July 21.

Finalists will be contacted by July 22 to schedule personal interviews with the trustees to be held July 25.

Interested candidates are invited to contact Lease for additional information by calling (530) 541-4660, Ext. 210.

Timeline

Schedule for Lake Tahoe Community College trustee appointment:

Vacancy occurs – July 1

Board-approved provisional appointment – July 6

Advertise – July 7-21

Orientation for prospective candidates – July 19

Applications close – July 21

Paper screening (if needed) – July 22

Notify applicants of interviews – July 22

Interviews – July 25

Selection – July 25

Administer oath of office – July 26


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