The Lansing Board of Education has a new member.

Board members voted unanimously Monday to appoint Cheryl Runnebaum to fill a vacancy on the school board.

“Welcome Cheryl,” Beth Stevenson, president of the school board, said after the vote.

Runnebaum was selected after board members interviewed all seven of the people who had submitted applications to be considered for the appointment.
Board members used the online Zoom service to conduct Monday’s special meeting because of restrictions related to the coronavirus.

The others who were interviewed by the school board are Roy Foster, Susie Werth, Steve Buffo, Jason Dunlap, Carla Wiegers and Peter Im.

Runnebaum works as the dean of career and technical education for Kansas City Kansas Community College.

She ran unsuccessfully for the Lansing Board of Education in 2019.

Runnebaum will fill a vacancy that was created by the last month’s resignation of former board member Debbie Deere.

Deere was reelected to a four-year term on the board in 2019.

Runnebaum’s appointment will last until next year’s school board election. At that time, voters will pick someone to serve the remainder of the unexpired term.

The people who applied to fill the vacancy were asked to submit written answers to several questions ahead of Monday’s meeting.

In her response to the questionnaire, Runnebaum wrote she was excited about the chance to serve on the school board “because I love Lansing and I love education. I am passionate and dedicated to the entire learning process. I understand the importance that every person plays in the education of our children, no matter their classification.”

During Monday’s meeting, board members asked what Stevenson described as clarifying questions.

The applicants were interviewed individually. Before being interviewed during the meeting, applicants were asked to wait in a “breakout room” set up through the Zoom system. This prevented them from hearing answers given by the applicants who were interviewed before them.

“We want this to be as fair as possible,” Superintendent Dan Wessel said.

Wessel said waiting in the “breakout room” was voluntary on the part of the applicants because Monday’s online meeting was open to the public.

While the appointment of Runnebaum was approved 6-0, she was not necessarily the first choice of every board member.

Following the interviews, board members took turns stating their preferences. Runnebaum was the first choice of four board members including John Hattok, who also works for KCKCC.

Hattok said Runnebaum is his boss. But he said her appointment to the board will not influence his votes in the future.

Hattok said Runnebaum was his choice for the appointment, noting that he is familiar with her background.

Board Vice President John Dalbey Sr. recommended appointing Runnebaum, noting the board was lacking in members with a background in education.

Stevenson and board member Aaron Yoakam stated their first choice for the appointment was Werth.

Werth also ran for the school board in 2019.

Werth and Runnebaum were among 12 candidates who ran for at-large positions on the Lansing Board of Education last year. The top four vote-getters were elected to positions. Werth finished in fifth place.

Stevenson noted Monday that Werth had been next in line in terms of the voting.

Yoakam also cited Werth’s fifth-place finish last year as his reason for recommending her.

After all of the board members took turns stating their preferences, Dalbey made a motion to appoint Runnebaum. The motion was approved unanimously.

Stevenson said she hopes the other applicants will continue to be involved in the school district.

“There’s so many opportunities for everyone,” she said.

School board members are scheduled to meet again next week for a regular monthly meeting. Wessel said Runnebaum will be able to participate in the meeting as a new board member.

This meeting also will be conducted in a virtual format.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR