By Robert Tomlinson
THREE RIVERS — A seat on the Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education has opened up following the resignation of one of its members.
At the board’s annual organizational meeting Monday, Secretary Ben Karle announced he would be resigning from the board effective that evening, due to taking a new job with the St. Joseph County ISD over the summer that he said would “serve the district better by giving it my all.”
“It’s been an honor to serve on the Board of Education the last three years. The experience has been invaluable, and I’ve learned more than I can ever imagine,” Karle said.
Karle began as a trustee when he took his seat on the board, and was named secretary for calendar year 2023.
With Karle’s resignation, it leaves one spot open on the school board. TRCS posted the open position Tuesday, with applications for the position due by 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26. A special meeting will be held on Monday, Jan. 29 to appoint the new board member, as the school board has to do so within 30 days of a vacancy.
Karle had been on the board since he was elected in November 2020, with his four-year term set to expire at the end of 2024. The person that would be appointed would fill out the rest of his term, and would have to file for re-election if they choose to serve on the board past 2024.
Karle explained after the meeting he would be taking a Behavioral Health Program Coordinator position with the ISD, which would involve working with the 31(n) school therapists at the ISD and instructional leadership in the county.
“It’s something we’ve been working on at the ISD to try to have somebody put a lot more emphasis on the mental health supports and behavioral health supports in our county schools,” Karle said. “It’s giving our county an opportunity to really put a lot of energy towards prevention with regards to behavioral health and trying to set up systems for support in the behavioral health realm in our schools.”
Karle has worked with the ISD as a school social worker in the recent past, and is a licensed social worker.
He added during the meeting he was initially “uncertain” about the extent of his involvement with the school board with his new position, but as the school year progressed, it became “increasingly obvious” for him ethically to move on from the school board.
“With an awareness of boundaries and ethical decision-making, I can serve the district better by giving it my all in that new position with that new professional opportunity while not serving on the Board of Education,” Karle said.
While Karle has disagreed with some policy decisions from time to time in his three years on the board, he emphasized that his resignation had nothing to do with “any kind of dissatisfaction” with the district, its employees, administration or the board.
“I hold a deep admiration for everyone that serves on a board, a lot of respect for anyone that is willing to do that position,” Karle said. “My confidence and respect for Superintendent Nash is unwavering, and I look forward to maintaining a positive professional relationship with Three Rivers Community Schools as a parent, community member, spouse and fellow educator in the county.”
Superintendent Nikki Nash and Board President Erin Nowak thanked Karle for his time on the board following his resignation.
“We do appreciate everything you’ve done, and we will definitely miss you,” Nash said. “But we love to have you in that [new] position too, so it’s a Catch-22 for me.”
“It’s meant a lot to have his perspective, and I’m happy he’s going to continue to serve the district, but we will miss him on the board up here too,” Nowak said.
Overall, Karle said he looks forward to what’s to come with the school district, just in a different capacity.
“I take great pride in Three Rivers Community Schools, so I appreciate the opportunity to have done this, and I wish you all the best as you’re planning for 2024,” Karle said.
In other business…
- The board re-appointed Nowak as president of the board, Melissa Bliss as vice president, and Julia Awe as treasurer, while appointing Nichole Cover to be the board’s new secretary, following Karle’s departure.
- The board approved two out-of-state field trips: A trip to Bendix Woods County Park in Indiana for kindergartners at Hoppin Elementary, and the annual Three Rivers Middle School eighth-grade trip to Cedar Point.
- The board approved the hiring of John Londono as the district’s new technology director.
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or firstname.lastname@example.org.