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UPDATE: Saugus district to appoint Winkler replacement

Posted: June 27, 2014 12:02 a.m.
Updated: June 27, 2014 5:38 p.m.

Stephen Winkler's Saugus Union School District seat, which was declared officially vacant this week, will be filled by appointment, school board members decided this week. Signal file photo


The Saugus school board seat that used to be held by Stephen Winkler will be filled by appointment, board members decided this week.

Saugus Union School District board members voted Thursday night to appoint Winkler’s replacement, rather than holding a special election.

Board members declared it empty in June 2013 after evidence emerged that Winkler lived outside the boundaries of the Saugus district and was therefore ineligible to hold the seat.

Judge Steven J. Kleifield ruled this week that Winkler “has usurped, intruded into and unlawfully held and exercised the office of trustee of the Saugus Union School District, and is not entitled to, and is excluded from, the office,” according to the issued default judgment that officially made the seat empty.

Winkler’s term lasts through November 2015.

Saugus district Superintendent Joan Lucid said calling a stand-alone special election would be costly, with the expense estimated at $743,000.

Consolidating with the upcoming November general election would cost less, but still set the district back an estimated $84,000, Lucid said.

“There is no way we can hold a special election right now,” said board member Judy Umeck. “That amount of money would devastate our general fund budget and compromise some things going on in the classroom.”

Board member Rose Koscielny agreed.

“We need to keep funding with our students,” she said.

Board members voted unanimously to fill the seat by appointment.

Under a timeline discussed Thursday, completed applications for the seat would need to be submitted by 4 p.m. July 11.

Application packets are available at the district office, 24930 Avenue Stanford, or online at
Sitting board members will interview candidates for the position July 18, according to information from the district.

The Saugus board will have to make a similar determination on another seat in the near future. Board member Doug Bryce, who was re-elected November 2013, announced last month that he intends to resign his seat as he is moving out of the area.

The Saugus district is the latest to look to fill a board vacancy by appointment.

The William S. Hart Union High School District used a similar process last year to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of then-board member Paul Strickland.

Hart district board members initially tabbed Chris Fall in June 2013 to take a seat on the board, but Fall resigned later that summer, citing a potential conflict of interest.

Current board member Rob Hall was appointed to serve on the board for a four-year term in October.

The Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees also used an appointment process to fill a board vacancy in January 2013 following Scott Wilk’s election to the state Assembly.

Taking over for Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, was Steve Zimmer.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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