Photo by George Lauby
Lisa Bianco, a former teacher and fundraiser, was elected to the North Platte school board Tuesday. She will serve for at least two years.
Bianco fills a vacancy created when Justin Schwartz moved out of town with his banking job. She was elected by the board after they interviewed her and two other applicants in open session.
The board chose Bianco, 4-1. Boardmember Jack Price was the first to vote. He took a lengthy pause before voting no.
Boardmember Mike Morell also paused before voting, then said yes.
Kimberely Kaschke, Julie Nielsen and Kathy Phares voted yes.
Price said he paused to consider and voted no because it might be better to have someone without school experience on the board, someone with an "outside perspective."
Bianco is currently the president of the school district's fundraising foundation, and she taught for 11 years, she told the board in her application. She has two children. Her youngest is graduating this year from North Platte High School.
The other candidates, George Haws and Pat Bartels, impressed the board during the interviews.
Haws is a parent and former county extension educator and is the head of Tobacco Free Lincoln County. During the interview, he said he would foster communication and do his homework if selected.
Bartels is a long-time school volunteer whose children and grandchildren attended the North Platte schools. Bartels served on the school board from 1992-96 and ran for the seat in 2012, losing to Morell. She said she has experience and time to devote, since she is semi-retired and self-employed. She runs Patsy Ann's Sewing downtown.
Phares thanked all three for showing the courage and confidence to apply.
"Each of you have good backgrounds and perspectives," Kaschke said. "That makes it tough."
"Any one of you would be a great member of the board," Phares said.
Nielsen said it was an uncomfortable process because it was public, but that goes along with the job. The board fell silent a moment and then Bartels said she would be fine with the board's decision if they picked one of the other two.
Kaschke moved to appoint Bianco. Nielsen seconded.
During a brief discussion before the vote, Price told the candidates that if there were a no vote, "it doesn’t necessarily mean a negative about you as a person."
He said casting the vote would be one of the tougher decisions a board member could make, next to picking a superintendent.
Bianco will take her seat at the next meeting on March 12.
Her two-year term will be a “good tryout for the board for the future,” Phares said.