School board makes election official

Leadership changes as new members step in

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The Douglas County School Board swore in four recently elected members, said goodbye to two departing ones and appointed a new president and vice president during its Dec. 5 meeting.

Kevin Larsen was selected as president and Doug Benevento vice president, both through a unanimous vote of their fellow board members.

Benevento, elected to a second term this November, and re-elected board member Meghann Silverthorn, along with newcomers Jim Geddes and Judi Reynolds, took oaths of office at the meeting’s start.

Term-limited board president John Carson left the board after serving for eight years, the last four as president. Board member Carrie Mendoza, on the board less than a year while filling a vacated post, also ended her service at the meeting’s start.

Benevento said he intends to serve in a supporting role, and will “help others accomplish what they want to do and not run out and try to take the lead.”

Larsen elaborated verbally on previous comments about improving communication with and outreach to the community.

He made one change aimed at accomplishing those goals during the meeting by extending public comment from two to three minutes per person. The time limit will be strictly enforced, regardless of the topic, he said.

“I’m going to extend the time from the norm we’ve enjoyed but firmly enforce the time we put out there,” Larsen said. “When you reach the zero hour, the gavel will come down and the comment will conclude. I’ll be fair about that and consistent.”

Larsen also said items already on a meeting agenda will have priority in public comment, with other opportunities made available for more general comments.

“There are many more things that bring this community together than separate us,” he said, urging all to communicate using “civil tones.” “I’m looking forward to using my ears as well as my tongue to create (a good) atmosphere.”

Board members unanimously adopted a resolution honoring Carson that praised him for a commitment to innovation, and putting students and parents first. It noted his leadership role in the voucher program, changes to teachers’ evaluation and compensation methods, enhanced school security and restructuring of many aspects of the district.

“I look forward as a citizen to watching you carry on,” Carson said. 

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