Students and Masks

Buses line up, waiting for students, after school on May 18.

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The Gallatin County Superintendent of Schools plans to conduct interviews on Friday with six candidates to fill the Bozeman School Board vacancy, including three candidates who ran in the May 4 election.

The board’s vacancy was created when Andy Willett moved out of the district in August 2020 but didn’t realize he was no longer qualified to serve as a board member until late-April.

Lisa Weaver, Jennifer Ahren Lammers and Cheryl Tusken ran in the in the May 4 school board election and each submitted applications for the open position. They lost to incumbents Gary Lusin and Douglas Fischer and newcomer Lei-Anna Bertelsen.

The three other applicants are Joshua Covington, Ann Marshall and Ryan Williams.

The interviews are scheduled at 1 p.m. Friday in the community room on the third floor of the Gallatin County Courthouse. The meeting will be open to people planning to attend in-person or watching remotely via Zoom.

Gallatin County Superintendent Matthew Henry plans to interview each candidate for 15 minutes using the same interview questions.

Henry plans to conduct the interviews in front of a focus group of 15 people, who will provide written feedback to him about each candidate. Members of the focus group won’t be able to ask questions during the interviews.

Bozeman School Board Chair Sandy Wilson said the focus group will have eight representatives from the school district, including Wilson, Vice Chair Greg Neil and two parents of students.

Other members include local business leaders, and representatives from professional, civic and military organizations. At the start of the meeting, members of the focus group will introduce themselves, according to a press release from Henry’s office.

The window for applications opened on May 25 and closed at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Henry’s office said 11 applications were requested by only six were returned by the deadline. The applications can be viewed at the county superintendent’s office and a copy of each will be in the room during interviews on Friday.

The Bozeman School Board initially thought it would be able to appoint a new board member, like it has in previous vacancies.

But state law requires the county superintendent of schools appoint a board member within 60 days of a vacancy. Since the seat was considered vacant when Willett moved out of the district in August — and the school board didn’t appoint a new member within that timeframe — the task of appointing a board member falls to Henry to appoint a board trustee.

The order of the candidate interviews was selected at random in 20-minute intervals, with Weaver starting at 1:10 p.m., followed by Covington and Marshall. After a short break, Lammers will start at 2:30 p.m., followed by Williams and Tusken.

Although members of the public won’t be allowed to ask questions during the interviews, they can submit feedback via email to superintendentofschools@gallatin.mt.gov.

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Liz Weber can be reached at lweber@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

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