The Killeen school board is looking for a few good men — and women — who would like to be considered for appointment as an interim board member.
But you wouldn’t know it by looking at the Killeen Independent School District’s website. It’s simply not mentioned.
With the recent resignation of Trustee Carlyle Walton, the board is tasked with appointing a replacement who can serve until next May’s election.
The board has until mid-January to find someone in order to be in compliance with state law, but it’s highly unlikely members will drag the process out that long.
One board member said the general consensus is that an appointee should be seated in the next two months — perhaps as early as October.
That would mean the board would have to receive and review applications, agree on and interview finalists and make a final selection — all in the space of five or six weeks.
To date, the board reportedly has received more than two dozen applications from interested residents — and that’s gratifying.
But how many district residents are even aware there’s a board seat open and that applications are being accepted for the spot?
The Killeen Daily Herald has followed the process since Walton’s resignation and has reported the board’s decision to fill the position by appointment — as well as the subsequent closed session during which the board discussed the process.
However, in returning to open session last week, the board president did not divulge what the selection process will involve or how it will proceed.
And if residents haven’t been following the issue in the newspaper, it’s unlikely they’re aware of the board opening at all.
The public has a right to know what the board is looking for in a prospective appointee, but to this point those criteria have been kept behind closed doors.
In the interest of drawing candidates from the broadest possible cross-section of the community, the school district should do a better job of publicizing the search process.
The announcement that the district is looking for candidates should be front-and-center on the Killeen ISD website. The web posting should specify the basic qualifications for applicants, as well as spell out where and when they can drop off their paperwork. It should also provide a deadline for applications.
Further, the district should provide a standard form to fill out — both online and on paper at the district’s administration office — so applicants are not left guessing as to what information they should provide.
The district should also place ads through local media in order to reach those who may not have a reason to visit the district’s website.
To date, most applicants have gone through board members to put their names in the hat, but not everyone feels comfortable going that route — nor should they be expected to be.
An open application process is necessary in order to encourage residents of all backgrounds and interests to participate. It’s also a big step toward greater transparency — and that’s crucial to earning and keeping the public trust.
The current board is comprised of former educators and administrators, as well as business professionals. No doubt, those backgrounds give members valuable perspective when making decisions on the district’s behalf.
However, the board would be well served by considering applicants with diverse perspectives and experiences — along with a demonstrated commitment to the community.
For example, an appointee who has children currently enrolled in the school district would provide valuable insight on issues that impact students in their age range.
The same goes for an applicant who has a child with special needs, dyslexia or other challenges the school district has worked to address.
A candidate who is involved with youth groups or counseling could offer needed input on issues facing the district’s middle and high school population.
Certainly, it may not be possible to find an applicant who meets all these criteria. But board members can’t possibly know whether they have heard from the best possible candidates unless and until the application process is widely publicized.
Being a school board member involves more than just showing up for a meeting twice a month and then going home. It means becoming well versed in the district’s issues, visiting schools, attending public functions and being accessible to students, teachers, parents and taxpayers.
It’s a commitment to the community that extends far beyond the boardroom.
Finding someone who not only shares this commitment but also brings valuable perspective and experience to the board will not be an easy task.
But the board must be up to it.
No doubt, it would be tempting to choose from the applications already received, or to solicit applications from those who have worked with the district in the past.
But the board owes it to the district’s residents to look beyond the list of familiar names and consider some potential candidates who deserve a second look.
That can’t be done unless some of these potential applicants get some encouragement — and it’s up to the district’s administration to give it to them.
For now, interested district residents can contact any Killeen ISD board member about applying for appointment to the seat. Their contact information can be found on the district’s website at killeenisd.org/school_board or by going to the district’s homepage, Killeenisd.org, scrolling to the bottom and clicking on School Board under quick links.
Prospective applicants can also go to the KISD Administration Building at 200 N. W.S. Young Drive and apply in person between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays, except for Labor Day.
The district and school board owe it to KISD students, parents and taxpayers to find the very best candidate for the open board seat.
That means opening up the process and bringing in as many qualified candidates as possible. It also means taking the time to read, review and analyze all the applications they receive.
That may involve some homework — but the district and the board will be better for it.