A surprise school board resignation has left the Champaign schools in a bad way.
A string of bad luck and exquisitely bad timing has left the members of the Champaign school board largely without experience and, as a result, credibility.
The latest blow to the board was the untimely resignation of Stig Lanesskog, who was just re-elected in April. Lanesskog submitted his resignation without any substantive explanation for his action, and he's not taking reporters' calls.
Serving on a school board is a largely thankless task to which few are willing to submit. Those who are willing to offer themselves deserve the public's gratitude. At the same time, however, when they run and are elected, they must realize they are public officials with public obligations and walking away from them is a violation of the voters' trust.
Sometimes it cannot be helped. But multiple vacancies, whatever their cause, lead to multiple problems.
The result of Lanesskog's resignation is a seven-member board with only one really experienced member — Kristine Chalifoux, who was elected in 2007. One other board member, Jamar Brown, has been on the board for two years.
Scott MacAdam served on the board from 2007 to 2011 before stepping down for two years and then running again in the spring election.
Remaining board members have one year or less. Ileana Saveley was appointed in 2012 to fill a vacancy created by the death of board member Greg Novak. Lynn Stuckey and Laurie Bonnett were just elected.
Now a board that desperately needs experience has a vacancy to fill. Whether any experience is available will be determined by the people who express interest in the job.
The board previously has appointed former board members, like Arlene Blank and Phil Van Ness, to fill empty slots.
If a board was heavy on experience, it's easier to appoint a young eager beaver. If it's light on experience, it's better to pick someone who has some institutional knowledge and familiarity with the issues.
School boards always face big issues, but the Champaign school district is laying the groundwork for a hugely expensive building program that it must sell to the public. That means the board will have to win and then maintain the public's confidence. Under the current circumstances, that's not going to be easy.