Five school board seats filled


Photo submitted by Beverly Petrie

The five elected school board members campaigned together just before the election. These five candidates were all endorsed by the union to fill the open 2 two-year and 3 four-year term seats.

Jenna Maddux and Brynn Winter

Elections were held on Nov. 3 to fill five of the seven open seats on the school board. Sixteen candidates ran for this election. 

There were two positions open for the special election. The elected candidates were Beverly Petrie and Alison Sherman. The special election this year was to replace Mark Burns and Shelly Pearson, after they decided to leave the school board, ending their terms early. 

“My understanding is my term will begin at the Nov. 19 meeting,” Alison Sherman, elected board member said.

This election also included three 4-year school board seats; Matt Onken, Katie Hockert,and Annie Porbeni were the elected candidates. The three candidates Onken, Hockert and Porbeni will replace Board Chair Sarah Stivland, Director Jennifer Pelletier,and Director Mike Ptacek. The newly elected board members will be sworn into office Jan. 7, 2021, Matt Onken, elected board member said.

This election, three unions that represent the employees of Stillwater Area Public Schools endorsed Beverly Petrie and Alison Sherman for the two open 2-year seats and Matt Onken, Katie Hockert and Annie Porbeni for the three open 4-year seats.

According to,“It is the first time that employee groups have made endorsements of school board candidates.”

I hope our district is able to continue and progress in the goal of equity. This is and should be a community effort.”

— Matt Onken


After the school board decided to separate with former Superintendent Denise Pontrelli, Interim Superintendent Malinda Lansfeldt took her position temporarily. Matt Onken, Alison Sherman and Katie Hockert all said that “hiring a new superintendent” is one of the main things that they want to accomplish during their term.

“Our biggest challenges in the next year include finding an effective superintendent who can execute our vision and passing a levy to ensure the financial stability of our district for years to come,” Katie Hockert, elected board member said.

Another challenge the school board members will face during their term is the renewing of the existing levy. The last operating levy was passed in 2013. This levy generated $16.2  million per year with 82% of the revenue going towards financial stability. This levy must be renewed by November 2021.

“A failure to renew the levy will result in a $12 million loss in funding. That would be catastrophic for students, staff and the community. A renewal of the current levy will stave off a crisis, but it will not allow the district to do more or even maintain everything it is doing today,” Hockert said.

“I hope our district is able to continue and progress in the goal of equity. This is and should be a community effort,” Onken said.