OWOSSO — The Owosso Public Schools Board of Education opted for a familiar face to fill its board vacancy, voting unanimously Monday to appoint Cheryl Paez to the empty seat following the resignation of board president Tim Jenc.
Paez, who previously served on the board of education for nearly 10 years, will fill the board trustee position through Dec. 31 — the remainder of Jenc’s term — and will be replaced by the person elected to the position during the Nov. 3 election, on Jan. 11, 2021.
She was one of two candidates to interview for the seat during Monday’s meeting. Jenc resigned July 15 after he shared a “racially insensitive” social media post on his personal Facebook account.
“Mrs. Paez served our district for many years and was always professional, cared for the kids and was a very quiet, humble leader,” Superintendent Andrea Tuttle said following the appointment. “I think that she’s going to be a great asset (to the district).”
Paez previously served on the Owosso Public Schools Board of Education from 2009 to 2018. She lost her board seat to Trustee Olga Quick following the November 2018 election in a close race. Quick received 4,271 votes and Paez 4,142.
Paez and Adam Easlick both interviewed for the vacant board seat Monday, from what appeared to be the comfort of home, as the meeting was held virtually via the video conferencing app Zoom. Each candidate was subject to a series of four questions from Board President Rick Mowen, who was elevated from board vice president following Jenc’s departure as outlined in the district’s bylaws.
During her interview, Paez touted her past board experience and even-keeled nature as reasons why she would be a good fit for the position.
“I don’t get too rattled or worked up about things very quickly,” Paez said. “I feel like I’m a good listener. I like to hear all sides of an issue to educate myself ... and I feel the nine years that I did sit on the board will allow me to get up to speed pretty quickly and jump right in and move ahead with the board.”
At the conclusion of both interviews, board Secretary Marlene Webster motioned the board appoint Paez, citing her past experience as a major asset given the challenges the board is currently facing, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the financial uncertainty placed upon schools as a result.
“It would be very useful for us to be able to have somebody who has worked with the board of education before and who would be able to just jump right in and not have that big of a learning curve,” Webster said. “We have so many things going on that we need seven people who already know what’s happening to be able to make the decisions we’re facing.”
Board members voted 6-0 to appoint Paez and she was sworn in immediately, serving as an active member for the duration of Monday’s meeting.
Jenc’s departure also facilitated a number of other moves within the board, as Shelly Ochodnicky was elevated to the role of vice president, Webster was named secretary and Sara Keyes was named treasurer.