Archive for Thursday, April 4, 1996


April 4, 1996


— An Ottawa school board member's resignation leaves "a big gap" on the board, one of his colleagues said.

A school district reeling from the recent resignation of its popular superintendent spent Wednesday coping with a new shakeup.

Terry Jennings, a school board member described by a colleague as a stabilizing force on the board, stepped down Tuesday evening, prompting the district to begin searching for his replacement on Wednesday.

"Terry leaving creates a big gap in the board, because he was a really conscientious, hard-working board member ..." said board member Jack Maxwell.

Jennings, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, was in the third year of his second, four-year term when he stepped down. He cited scheduling conflicts as the reason for his resignation. He said he was pursuing a post-graduate degree at Baker University and had to forsake his board seat to attend night classes.

Maxwell said the board lost an invaluable member.

"I think the most remarkable part of Terry's serving on board has been his willingness to seek consensus and mediate issues," he said. "Even if board members didn't agree, I think Terry was a stable, positive influence in helping us move toward consensus on an issue."

Jennings served as the board's chief negotiator, leading contract talks between the board and district teachers. Cheryl Sylvester will succeed Jennings in that role.

On Wednesday, the district began advertising for a replacement. Maxwell said board members hoped to appoint a successor by April 22.

District officials said Jennings' replacement would serve the remainder of his term, which expires in June 1997.

Jennings' resignation came on the heels of Supt. Don Duncan's March 11 announcement that he was stepping down. The announcement came after a split board vote, 6-1 in favor, on whether to extend his contract.

After Duncan resigned, Ottawa faculty and staff members donned ribbons to show their support or protest the contract extension vote.

Tuesday, board members discussed options for finding Duncan's replacement. One is to contract with the Kansas Association of School Boards to screen and recommend candidates; the other is to form a screening committee of area superintendents.

The board plans to choose one of the options by Monday.

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