Education

July 31, 2014

Former Edwardsville board president voted back in

Edwardsville's ousted school board president was voted back onto the District 7 board Tuesday by some of his former board members.

Greg Roosevelt, who served 12 years on the District 7 board with four years as president, lost his seat in the last election when voters ousted him and Bob Perica in favor of two newcomers.

In June, board member Brad Hewitt announced his resignation from the school board after nine years of service. Hewitt, who is director of intercollegiate athletics at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, said he intended to move out of the school district and would no longer be eligible to serve.

Seven people applied to replace Hewitt on the board, which voted 4-2 Tuesday to approve Roosevelt as Hewitt's replacement.

Jeff Miller and Lelan Olsen were the two no votes. While they could not be reached for comment, Miller posted on a Facebook message board for District 7 parents that he was "disappointed" both that Roosevelt applied and that fellow board members "chose to ignore the wishes of the voters" in approving him.

"Dr. Olsen and I have worked diligently ... to build bridges and a sense of collaboration among the community, teachers, administration and our fellow board members," Miller wrote. "Selection of one of the other very qualified applicants would have been a significant step forward in the process of building trust and collaboration within the community."

Roosevelt could not be immediately reached for comment.

Roosevelt will serve until the next election in April 2015. If re-elected, he would serve out the remaining two years of Hewitt's term, which expires in April 2017.

The other six candidates included Stefanee Keth, Vince Ojeda, Scott Thompson, Brent Bates, Matthew Feldmann and William Eaton.

At least one isn't giving up: while Ojeda said he was "obviously disappointed," but it doesn't change his plans. He intends to run for the board in the April election anyway. "Someone needs to step up who wants to serve the community and change the decision-making process," Ojeda said. "There's been a lack of communication on major decisions, and a lack of opportunities for the community to have an opinion or voice thoughts."

A letter to parents issued by board president Jill Bertels said that Roosevelt's experience and knowledge of the district's financial issues were key to their decision.

"While each of the candidates had qualities and skills that could serve the district, Mr. Roosevelt possesses experience, knowledge of the school district and its continuing financial challenges, and a familiarity with the board's function," Bertels wrote. "These attributes make him uniquely qualified to ease the transition from the resignation of veteran board member Brad Hewitt until the next election."

Bertels' letter also pointed out that Roosevelt came in fourth for three seats by 51 votes.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 618-239-2507.

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