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Mounds View School Board votes in new member
At its June 24 meeting, the Mounds View Public Schools board voted to seat Jonathan Weinhagen in the vacancy created when board member Lisa Sjobeck announced her resignation in May; he will take over the seat effective July 1 through the first Monday of 2016.
A former candidate for the board in 2011, Weinhagen was unanimously selected from a field of five applicants, many of whom had previously run to be on the board as well. Each was interviewed June 17 following an application process that ran from late May through early June.
“[This is] both humbling and exciting,” Weinhagen said a day after landing the seat, mentioning that, as a product of District 621 himself, a prime directive would be to “not screw this up.”
Weinhagen, 31, said a large portion of his job on the board would be simply “maintaining the excellence at Mounds View Schools.’
He said that equitably addressing the needs of the district’s diverse student body would be another focus, as well as studying how to better “keep tabs” on former district students’ post-secondary success, since the district invests money in getting students prepared for post-secondary studies.
“The next several weeks will be a pretty steep learning curve in terms of getting read up on the protocols of the district,” Weinhagen said. “I’ll be looking to my six other colleagues on the board and getting all the help that I can.”
Weinhagen is vice president of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, sits on the Shoreview Economic Development Commission and is a member of the board of trustees at the Mounds View Schools Education Foundation.
A Bethel University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business management who went on to earn an MBA in business administration from the same school, Weinhagen also studied at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs through its Policy Fellows Program, which he finished last month.
He and his wife have four children ages 12, 6, 4 and 2; his Twitter bio states he “Plan[s] to sleep when retired.”
In a letter read to the board by chair Jon Tynjala on May 27, Sjobeck explained, “Recent changes in my personal life necessitate my withdrawal from the board.” Sjobeck wrote that board work and volunteering had become very important to her and that she “will miss this very much.”
Prior to applicant selection at the June 24 meeting, the board was loose and jovial, praising its departing member in glowing terms.
Mounds View Schools Superintendent Dan Hoverman said a lot of school board work goes on behind the scenes, and that Sjobeck was a diligent worker.
“There are so many hidden hours that the public doesn’t see with board service,” Hoverman said. “You were a tremendous champion for all the kids in this district and for that we will be forever grateful.”
Tynjala said Sjobeck always considered the needs of the entire district in the decisions she made, and added on a personal note, “I will miss your passion, compassion, your humor, and by God, those Christmas parties,” presenting her with a plaque and flowers.
“I’m not dying,” Sjobeck quipped.
Later, the entire board took turns addressing Sjobeck, who was first elected to the board in 2007 and again in 2011.
“I really appreciated getting to work with you,” board member Mary Jo Sager said, tearfully.
“When I hear or read stories about the challenges and behaviors of other school boards,” Sjobeck said, “I realize how lucky and blessed I have been.”
Per board rules, with five applicants for the vacant seat, the board first voted the field down to three applicants; two rounds of balloting were required to achieve this. Once narrowed down, the applicant who receives a simple majority of votes from the board will fill the vacancy.
Weinhagen was elected by a unanimous 6-0 vote; Sjobeck did not vote on her replacement.
He will be sworn in following the board’s summer break at its August 18 meeting.
Mike Munzenrider can be reached at email@example.com or 651-748-7824. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.