School board member Delwyn Jensen announced his resignation at Monday’s board meeting because his wife Loriann was just hired by the district as the counselor at Rendezvous Upper Elementary School.
Jensen told the Teton Valley News that everything happened quickly; his wife just received the job offer last week and will be starting work this Friday. Because the school board oversees salaries, the spouse of a district employee can’t serve on the board.
“To be perfectly honest, it’s something I’ve enjoyed and loved, and I will miss it. I wish we could do both,” Jensen said. “But this is what she wants to do for her career, so I can’t stand in her way as a voluntary board member.”
Jensen has served one four-year term as representative of Zone 4, which includes the northern half of Driggs and the west side of the valley, and was partway through his second term. He won reelection last year after petitioning for a revote because a ballot error excluded some voters in downtown Driggs.
The board will now have to appoint his replacement to serve until December 2021. Board member Nan Pugh, who will serve as interim vice chair in Jensen’s stead, said the process will be the same as when they appointed Mary Mello to take Shelley Streit’s seat this February. Streit resigned last November to avoid a potential conflict of interest because her husband's company was chosen to build the new Driggs and Victor elementary schools. The board will accept applications until Nov. 7 and then vet candidates in an open interview process on Nov. 12.
Jensen said he has no recommendations for his replacement but he is actively seeking one and hopes to recruit a person who will reflect his values. He added that one reason he has appreciated his time on the board is that despite having five members with diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking, the board is usually able to find consensus.
“For people who are so different, it’s rare to be able to function, get along, and excel as a board, but this one does,” he said. “We don’t always agree on ways or approaches but we share a common goal for the district.”
He said that he has found his time on the board very rewarding, and not only because the district finally received voter approval on the bond to build two new schools and renovate existing ones. With his banking background, Jensen brought fiscal guidance and knowledge to the board. He said the district is now sitting in a better place financially than it was when he started.
“We’re able now to manage the budget in a more controlled way that reflects our goals. We’ve also been able to amass a large savings account to set the district up for future success even if funding from the state slows down,” he said.
He added that the school district has introduced other important programs in recent years, such as the dual-immersion program, and shifted its funding towards its values.
Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme said he appreciates the years of service that Jensen has provided for the board, district, and community.
“His skill set in financial, construction and property matters has been very beneficial,” Woolstenhulme added. “He has set high expectations of the school district to improve student achievement through his leadership on the school board.”
Board chair Chris Isaacson agreed, saying, “He has been a true team member and leader. We as a board and district are better for him being a part of us. We thank him for his contributions and will miss him dearly.”
As the new school plans come to fruition, Jensen is serving as liaison between the board, contractors, and local governing bodies. He told the school board on Monday that he wanted to retain that role, without compensation.
“I really want to do that,” he said. “I’m very vested in the project and very vested in the district.”