Experience is the best teacher.
An impressively large group of people sought appointment to fill two vacant seats on the Champaign school board.
But, given the circumstances, the board's decision to fill the openings with two former members — Arlene Blank and Phil Van Ness — is best for all concerned because of the experience they bring to the table.
The vacancies were created by the resignations of board members Thomas Lockman Jr. and Sue Grey.
Lockman resigned his board seat, which is up for election in April, after he decided to apply for the newly created position as the board's legal counsel. His appointment by the board on which he formerly served was announced Monday.
Grey, who has two years left on her term, decided to step down because she recently assumed new duties as the president and chief executive officer of the United Way of Champaign County. The balance of Grey's term also will be filled in the upcoming election.
It's always comforting to see a high level of interest in the public schools. But it is noteworthy that 13 candidates filed for appointment to the board when far fewer actually are interested in running for these important positions.
Champaign's school board election, to be held on April 9, features just two candidates (Stig Lanesskog and Ileana Saveley) for the two two-year terms that are up for election. Those seats were held by Grey and the late Greg Novak.
There are five candidates running for three four-year terms. Those candidates are Laurie Bonnett, Scott McAdam, Lynn Stuckey, John Williams III and Chuck Jackson.
The board's decision to appoint Blank and Van Ness to fill the vacancies accomplishes a dual purpose. No candidate running in the April election will be put at a disadvantage by the board's action. At the same time, appointing former board members to fill short-term vacancies gives them a head start in understanding the issues pending before the school district.
Serving on a school board often is a thankless job. But it's vitally important to have competent people from all walks of life to ensure that public schools fulfill their mission of providing the best possible education for all children.
It's our hope that this preliminary skirmishing over the two appointments will provoke more interest among voters and help spark a stronger turnout in this spring's election than we've had in the past.