USD 379 Board of Education Votes Not to Participate In Childcare Portion Of Life Center

By Quinn O’Hara

During USD 379’s Board of Education meeting on March 18, the Board ultimately voted not to participate in the childcare portion of the Clay Center Multigenerational Life Center.

Three members, Board President Tracy Claeys, and Board Members Linda Sleichter and Andrew Auld, voted in favor of the action. Four Board Members, Jeff Cannizzo, Jason Bergsten, Shanna Sterling, and David Jermark, voted against the action.

The majority no vote means a forfeit of $175,000 in grant funds.

Three of the four Board members declined to comment on the reasoning behind their vote. Board Member Jermark, who voted against the measure, provided KCLY with a written statement. The statement was handed to the KCLY team directly at the conclusion of the Board Meeting.

“I fully understand that these are difficult circumstances and must balance the interest of all parties involved. School boards and administrators must follow the active policies adopted by the board. Failure to do so can have consequences. We have an obligation to act in good faith, not contrary to it.

“I have also reviewed the entire information since November 2023’s board meeting. In summary, school boards must follow their policies to ensure fairness, consistency and legal compliance on all matters pertaining to direct business.”

Board Member Sleichter, who voted in favor of the measure, said,

“I am disappointed that our school board voted against the childcare center, going against the wishes of our constituents, teachers and staff. I would love to know their rationale. It is such a loss for our teachers and staff, especially. I pray the community can find someone to fill the childcare center spots, so we don’t lose the community building grant.”

Grow Clay County’s website states that child care is a required component of the $3.6 million community center grant. The website states: “Without a child care center, there is no community center.” Grow Clay County has not released an official statement on the vote at the time of publication.

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