Bob Dohr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
|Palmyra-Eagle High School/Middle School as seen on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. (Photo: Scott Ash/Now News Group)|
Three of the seven members of the Palmyra-Eagle Area School Board, including the president and vice president, have resigned following the state’s denial of the district’s dissolution attempt.
School board president Scott Hoff, vice president Tara Bollmann and clerk Carrie Ollis announced their resignations at the Jan. 14 board meeting, effective at the end of the meeting.
The resignations come five days after the School District Boundary Appeal Board, a panel made up of school board members from around the state, denied the district’s dissolution by a 6-1 vote.
The school board ordered the district to dissolve last year after the failure of an operational referendum that members said was needed to keep the financially-troubled district open.
Hoff said one of the reasons he stepped down is because during the SDBAB's hearing process, a member of a citizens group came forward and said a community member was willing to give $100,000 in matching donations to help the district if the current school board would step down.
"They need the money far more than they need me," Hoff said.
Hoff also said those who came to the appeal board with ideas on how to save the district need an opportunity to put those in place.
"I’d be nothing more than a roadblock," he said.
In announcing her decision to resign, Ollis said the past year has been filled with "many low points" and hateful, negative things said about the district, the board and her personally.
She took aim at what she called the “nopers,” those people she termed as adamantly against the district.
“Their hatred of this district is palpable at times in the snarky comments, accusations, and memes made,” Ollis said. "I have been called a thief, a criminal, a member of the mob. I have been accused of stealing money from this district to take a vacation and of breaking the law as board clerk.”
RELATED: The only school board member who opposed dissolving the Palmyra-Eagle district has resigned
Bollmann's words rang a similar tone, saying she's tired of fighting people who publicly say they support a school in their village or town, but in private continue to vote against opening their wallets to support their schools.
She also spoke of the divide between Palmyra and Eagle.
"I’m tired of watching two communities continue to tear each other apart, something I’ve watched since I was a kid," said Bollmann, a 1986 Palmyra-Eagle High School graduate and board member for six years.
"Even though considerable progress is made with our children and combining activities, the parents continue to bicker — to put it nicely — and kill the school spirit we’ve worked so hard to keep in place."
Bollmann said she stands by her vote in favor of dissolution and called it the best thing for the district.
"However, if there are people with a fresh round of fight and passion in them that say that they can do a better job than I, then who am I to stand in their way?" Bollmann said.
Bollmann's term expires in April. Hoff's term is up in April 2021. Ollis' term expires in April 2022.
All the seats will be filled by appointment. The appointments need to be made within 60 days of the resignations, per state statutes.
The resignations come as a crowded field of candidates vie to win a seat on the board in the April 7 election. Eight people are seeking three available seats.
A primary will be held Feb. 18 to narrow the field to six.
In a signal that the district's financial problems are still front and center, the board on Tuesday approved preliminary non-renewal notices for the district's six administrators: the superintendent, special education director, business manager and the three building principals.
The move does not mean decisions have been made regarding any of those positions, but Hoff said by law the board is required to provide the preliminary notices prior to five months before the end of their contracts, which is June 30.