LANSING | Brian Stewart has been appointed to fill the vacancy on the Lansing Elementary District 158 School Board after Jerry Kern resigned last month.
Stewart served on the board previously, having been appointed in May 2012 to fill the seat vacated by former board President Joe LaBella.
Stewart lost an election bid to the board in April of this year.
Stewart's appointment was not without controversy, as board member Anthony Arens contended the board should have offered the open seat to the highest vote-getter that did not win election in April.
Stewart had finished last among seven candidates.
Arens refused to take part in a closed session conversation about whom the board would choose to take Kern's spot.
"I feel we should talk in open about this," Arens said.
Two residents spoke during public participation and encouraged the board to appoint Jeff Zupan, who finished fifth in the April election.
The top four finishers won election in April.
Zupan also spoke and indicated his willingness to accept the appointment.
Following the closed session, board Vice President Chuck Taylor nominated Stewart, and he was appointed by a 4-2 vote.
Arens and board member Jeffry Kiester voted against the appointment.
Stewart, who has three children attending district schools, said he hopes to see increased parental involvement and higher test scores.
Stewart said Arens is entitled to his opinion regarding whom the board should have chosen.
"At the same time, I think that the voters put a board in place to make these decisions," Stewart said.
In other district news:
• The board approved a district budget for the 2013-14 school year that Business Manager Mark Crotty said is balanced due to a higher than expected amount of funds from the state.
"We had anticipated general state aid to come in approximately around $900,000 less than what it did," Crotty said.
• The board approved the retirement of Calvin Coolidge Elementary Principal Linda Blomquist, effective June 30, 2014.
Blomquist has spent 38 years in education and five years as principal at Coolidge Elementary.
• Kern was recognized by the board and presented with gifts to commemorate the 40 years he served as a School Board member.