Hannibal Voters To Decide Whether To Eliminate Board of Education Positions

Voters in Hannibal will decide whether their Board of Education should stay at 9 members or reduce to 7.

The board last week approved putting the question on the May 18 ballot, which includes the district’s proposed budget for 2010 – 2011.

A former board member, Mike LaFurney, presented the board with a petition recently asking for the vote. The board is often not at full attendance. One member, Randy Sivers, recently resigned. LaFurney said at the time that people who signed the petition would rather have 7 board members who attend meetings than have 9 members with absences.

Also on May 18, voters will select three new Board of Education members. Incumbents Dale Young and Bob Gillen are not running for reelection and the seat vacated by Sivers will be filled as well. LaFurney is among the 6 people seeking one of the board seats.

So, if voters pick three new board members, bringing the board back to 9 members, at the same time that they approve cutting the board to 7 members, how will that work?

Superintendent Mike DiFabio, in an exchange of e-mails with Oswego County Today this week, quoted state Education Law:

“If the voters approve a decrease in the number of board members, no election may be held until the number of members on the board is equal to or less than the number to which the board had been decreased.”

In other words, the board will slim down by not filling seats as they open up.

“If the proposition is passed by the voters, we will clarify this action with our attorney,” DiFabio wrote.

The reduction would happen after the 2011 elections in May. Two board terms will expire then — the term of current member Fred Patane and the term of whoever is elected to fill the Sivers vacancy.

A check of the county’s school districts shows that 6 of 9 districts operate with 7-person Boards of Education: Fulton, Oswego, Mexico, APW, Pulaski and Sandy Creek. Hannibal, Phoenix and Central Square have 9-member boards. Oswego, Mexico and APW also have a non-voting student representative each.