One year ago, board member Lynda Banwart blocked the election of Debbie Fort as board president. When Fort was trying to convince Banwart she would be a good president, Banwart told her, "I see you not being able to work with other people."
That impression, Banwart said, came because Fort had "forced" former Superintendent C. J. Huff into attacking her because he was "very protective of his leadership team."
At the time, Banwart's response stunned the Joplin community since Huff had bullied Fort since her election to the board in April 2014 and Banwart was saying that Fort had brought on the attacks by displeasing the man who was bullying her..
What a difference a year makes.
After the swearing-in ceremony for newly-elected board members Jennifer Martucci, Sharrock Dermott, Lori Musser, and Chris Sloan tonight, nominations for board president opened with Banwart saying, "I nominate Debbie Fort."
Unlike last year, Fort has a new position at work that requires more of her time, so she declined the nomination. Fort nominated last year's board president, Jeff Koch, who was elected unanimously.
For vice president, Sloan nominated Martucci, with Banwart nominating Dermott.
As the first one nominated, the Martucci vote was held first. After six board members, including Dermott, voted "yes," Banwart said, "OK, yeah," and it was unanimous.
The meeting began with a presentation of lifetime passes to Joplin R-8 activities to departing board members Sallie Beard, Ron Gatz, and Gary Nodler, who were appointed by the Jasper County Commission in June to replace Lane Roberts, who was unable to serve because of his appointment as director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety and Mike Landis and Randy Steele, who quit when things stopped going their way.
The meeting took a total of 15 minutes, ending with Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder jokingly saying, "I want everybody to tell Gary Nodler about the shortness of this meeting."
(Photo: Board Secretary Pat Waldo swears in Jennifer Martucci, Sharrock Dermott, Lori Musser, and Chris Sloan.)