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The Juneau School Board on Tuesday appointed former board member Paul Gulyas to fill the vacancy created by Stan Ridgeway's election to the Juneau Assembly.
The board advertised the opening after Ridgeway's victory in the Oct. 1 election. Gulyas, former School Board member Sunny Israelson, Steve Kikendall and Julie Morris sent in letters of interest.
Kikendall and Morris were candidates for the School Board in the October election that filled two seats. Ridgeway endorsed Morris, the third-highest vote-getter, to be his replacement.
The School Board chose Gulyas in a secret ballot. Board members did not publicly discuss the reasoning behind their appointment choices before the vote. No one from the public testified.
"Was I surprised? No," Morris said. "I really wish them the best. I hope that things work out for them so they can finally move forward and build a new high school because that was my main concern for the kids."
School Board President Chuck Cohen said the vote was not unanimous and the board did not discuss the choice before the meeting. Historically the board has made appointment decisions by secret ballot, Cohen said.
Juneau School District policy does not specify how an appointment vote should be taken, saying only that an appointee must be approved by a majority. The only formal qualifications for appointment were that applicants be over 18, registered voters, and residents of Juneau.
"Everyone who applied was quite well-qualified and would have made good School Board members," Cohen said.
This is the second time Gulyas has been appointed to the board. He was appointed and served for five months in 1999, after a member resigned. He also was elected to the board in 1992 and served a three-year term.
Gulyas, 72, is retired. He and his wife, Gertrude Gulyas, have lived in Juneau for 30 years. Paul Gulyas worked for the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, a body charged with overseeing the Alaska State Student Loan program and licensing postsecondary institutions. He also has been a teacher and university administrator.
Gulyas has a doctorate in educational evaluation and research. He said his main areas of interest are program evaluation and facilities.
"I am interested in what will eventually evolve out of the new state standards and the exit exam," Gulyas said. "There is (also) a need to constantly re-examine what we are doing with facilities in the district."
Alan Schorr, the longest-standing member on the board, said he voted for Gulyas because he wanted to work with someone who had experience with the school board process and procedure. He also wanted the appointment to be as apolitical as possible, he said.
"We wanted someone who would just fill out this one year and not use it as a stepping stone to run again," Schorr said. "We didn't want a political decision for someone who got the next number of votes or someone who ran. ... I think that this is the fairest way of doing it."
Julia O'Malley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.