By NICOLE BRODZIK
The Westonka School Board appointed Heidi Marty as an interim board member after interviewing four candidates before their April 10 meeting. Marty has worked with the school district on a number of items, including helping to get community support behind multiple referendums. Marty has been a Westonka resident for 15 years and currently has a daughter in eighth grade at Mound Westonka High School.
The spot was left open by the death of former Vice Chair Ann Bremer who passed away in February following a two-year battle with cancer.
The board agreed they had a tough decision to make and that they would be lucky to have any of the four candidates on the board. Roger Bredeson, Brian Carlson and Jacob Mazurek were the other applicants to make it to the interview round.
“What a great challenge to have to have so many qualified people,” Board Chair David Botts said after the board’s vote.
Marty said she was grateful for the opportunity to serve in Ann’s honor.
“I miss Ann,” she said. “This feels like something I want to do in her legacy.”
The board agreed that Marty was the best choice for the job in terms of who could most seamlessly step in and work with the board through the remainder of the year.
“When I look at this, I ask who can help the district the most, and who deserves to serve the most,” Treasurer Ralph Harrison said. “I think in both categories, Heidi comes up in my mind hands down. She’s very smart, competent and very committed. She looks at the facts and she is able to look at the big picture. Her strongest point is showing how to break those difficult issues down and do this.”
Botts asked Marty during her interview how she sees the school district moving forward and keep the community on the district’s side.
“With the facilities referendum in 2011, that meant visuals and video and making it almost impossible to deny that we needed what we needed at that time,” Marty said. “It’s changing the conversation from always being about dollars and cents, which are of course important, to, what do we want to do for the kids? Communication I think is really the ticket, especially in era where we have so much coming at us.”
Marty also said that while the growing district is a good thing, she is concerned about how many more students the district’s facilities can handle.
“We’re struggling now and trying to get young learners to choose Westonka and stay in Westonka,” Marty said. “The reality of our buildings and properties I think is our biggest challenge.”
Botts also appointed Clerk Gary Wollner as the new vice chair and appointed Board Member Loren Davis as the new clerk.
Marty will officially take her seat on the board on May 10 as there is a 30-day waiting period for residents to petition her appointment. If she is not petitioned, her first official meeting as a school board member will be in June.
The next Westonka School Board meeting will be on May 1 at 7 p.m. the Little Theater at Mound Westonka High School.