The Missoula County Public Schools Board of Trustees will choose Tuesday one of four applicants to fill an open board seat.

The school board will interview Nina Cramer, Adam Duerk, Mike Jakupcak and Scott Todd, then vote on a new trustee, during a public meeting in the MCPS Business Building boardroom at 915 South Ave. W.

The position was left vacant after retired Sentinel High School teacher Larry Foust resigned because of philosophical differences with the other board members.

The new trustee will vote on all elementary and high school issues.

All four applicants filled out questionnaires, which the other board members will in part use to decide who to appoint. The applicants touched on topics from financial priorities for the school district to philosophies regarding student achievement, and were also asked to outline what they think is the superintendent’s most important role.

Three of the applicants say they intend to run for the elected position in the next scheduled school election a year from now. Duerk says it’s unknown yet whether he will run.

The term for the vacant seat is up in May 2014. At that time, the seat will again be up for election.

Duerk, a Missoula attorney, is a former school board trustee who served two years on the MCPS board before being defeated by Foust in May 2011.

Jakupcak served on the school board in Stevensville in the 1980s. Cramer describes herself as a community organizer. Todd has worked the past 30 years of his career as an engineer, manager and businessman.

All the candidates say they’re vying for the job because of the important role public service plays in the community and a desire to improve the school system.

Increasing communication with parents and community members, ensuring funding for programs, and enacting policies and procedures in the best interest of students, staff and the community are Cramer’s top three priorities if appointed.

Serving Missoula’s children is Duerk’s top priority.

Jakupcak wants to continually strengthen the school district’s outlined priorities and focus efforts on at-risk students and holding regular community forums.

Todd would work to make the district as efficient as possible while still maintaining high quality programs, support evidenced-based programs and encourage more community involvement, according to his answers on the questionnaire.

The last time the school board appointed a new trustee was after the resignation of trustee Nancy Pickhardt in August 2010. Cramer and Jakupcak also applied for Pickhardt’s open seat.

 

Tuesday’s meeting is at 6 p.m. The public is welcome to attend, and public comment will be taken. For more information, call 728-2400, Ext. 1024.

Reporter Chelsi Moy can be reached at 523-5260 or at chelsi.moy@missoulian.com.

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