Larson happy to pass the gavel to Ongert
By Samantha Dietel, Current Staff
After serving only one year in the position, Tiffany Larson will not continue as president of the West Bend School Board.
Members of the school board changed roles Monday in an annual process that occurs after new members are sworn in. Because Chris Zwygart and Kurt Rebholz secured their seats on the board during the April 3 spring election, it was time for the board to reorganize. Larson was replaced by Joel Ongert as president and was not re-elected into an officer position.
That turn of events led a local blogger to interpret the shift as an effort to expel Larson from board leadership.
“You don’t see this very often,” the blogger said in an online post. “After only a year as president, Tiffany Larson was cast completely out of the leadership.”
However, Larson says that she simply was not very interested in taking up the president position this year.
“Although I was not particularly interested in the role of president, I would have accepted if others were too busy to commit to such an obligation,” she said. “We work as a team and seek to support one another and the organization.”
She went on to explain that last spring it was important for her to accept the role of president. With four new board members, Larson would have had more experience for the responsibilities required with the job.
“Last year, I knew it was my responsibility to accept the duties as president as many members were brand new,” she said.
This year, Larson had planned to nominate Ongert for president, but Nancy Justman, the board’s vice president, beat her to it.
“I was happy to pass the gavel to Joel and recognize he is a natural leader who will encourage teamwork and positively represent the (West Bend School District),” Larson said.
“Joel is a natural leader who will encourage teamwork and positively represent the district.”
– Tiffany Larson, former school board president
Ongert says it is typical for those in officer positions to shift roles every year, since it allows others to have the same opportunities.
“It is not uncommon for the board to select a new president and officers every year to allow other board members the opportunity to serve in the officer positions,” he said. “I look forward to my year as president and will not be surprised if next year I am not nominated to an officer position. Again, this would allow other board members the opportunity to serve in officer positions.”
Justman also says that when annually electing officers, it is not unusual for people to switch roles.
Assistant superintendent Laura Jackson, who was present at Monday’s board meeting, witnessed the election process.
“Our school board nomination process was conducted as expected,” Jackson said. “While there are times when a board member serves in a position for multiple years, it is not uncommon for there to be shifts in the board officers each year.”
Despite Larson’s lack of interest in returning to the role of president, she still appreciates the year she had in the position.
“It was a pleasure to serve as president,” she said. “Being keynote speaker at our Honors Graduate assembly, distributing diplomas at graduation, special invitations to performances, speaking at the FBLA new officer induction, plus just spending time with our awesome teachers, students and central office staff were all highlights of my year.”
She added that serving on the board without the presidential responsibilities will allow her more time to focus on other projects.
“Ensuring we provide adequate mental health supports and increasing awareness about programs currently available within our schools and community is a personal interest,” she said.
(Photos from the West Bend School District website.)