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Press Release

BISMARCK, N.D., May 3, 2022 -- State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler on Tuesday announced the names of applicants for two prominent North Dakota education boards – the Board of Higher Education and the Board of Public School Education.

The Board of Higher Education oversees the 11 public colleges and universities that make up the North Dakota University System. The Board of Public School Education’s members supervise North Dakota’s career and technical education programs and the development of a state learning continuum, which identifies skills that students should learn during their K-12 education.

There are two pending vacancies on both boards. The terms on both boards begin July 1. Baesler serves as chair of a state nominating committee that screens candidates for the Board of Higher Education, and as the executive secretary of the Board of Public School Education.

The candidates for two openings on the Board of Higher Education are:

  • Mary Aaland, Fargo, professor of surgery and director of the Rural Surgery Support Program, University of North Dakota medical school;
  • Curtis Biller, Fargo, principal business consultant for Strengths Inc. and partner in Northern Plains Business Advisors;
  • Kevin Black, Minot, chief executive officer of Creedence Energy Services;
  • Danita Bye, Stanley, business consultant;
  • Sabina Gasper, Bismarck, director of health economics and outcomes research, Alkermes Inc.;
  • Blaine Huff, Donnybrook, farmer, rancher, and trucking company operator;
  • Erika Kenner, Leeds, farmer and rancher;
  • Robbie Lauf, Bismarck, programming and partnership director, Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library;
  • Jill Louters, Sheyenne, superintendent for the New Rockford-Sheyenne public schools;
  • Stan Schauer, Bismarck, assessment director, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction; and
  • Jennifer Withers, Bismarck, program administrator, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

Bye and Louters are finishing their first four-year terms on the board and are eligible for reappointment. The North Dakota Constitution limits them to two terms of service.

The governor appoints seven of the Board of Higher Education’s voting members to four-year terms. The eighth voting member is a student at one of the North Dakota University System’s schools. The student is appointed to serve for one year.

The nominating committee that Baesler chairs also includes North Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Jon Jensen; Nick Archuleta, the president of North Dakota United, which represents public employees and school teachers; Sen. Larry Luick, R-Fairmount, the North Dakota Senate’s interim president pro tempore; and Rep. Kim Koppelman, R-West Fargo, the speaker of the North Dakota House.

The Board of Public School Education has seven members. The governor appoints six members to six-year terms, and each one represents a group of counties that is specified in state law. The seventh member is the superintendent of public instruction, who is the board’s executive secretary.

The two pending openings are for members who represent these two groups of counties:

  • Adams, Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, Grant, Hettinger, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sioux, Slope, and Stark; and
  • Burke, Divide, McKenzie, Mountrail, Ward, and Williams.

The candidates for the Adams County group are:

  • Jeff Fastnacht, Mandan, assistant superintendent, Mandan Public Schools
  • Lori Furaus, Mandan, Mandan School Board
  • Marcus Lewton, Dickinson, superintendent, Dickinson Public Schools
  • Mike McHugh, Mandan, education coordinator, North Dakota Aeronautics Commission
  • Jennifer Steiner, Golden Valley, rancher, Lone Tree School District board member

The candidates for the Burke County group are:

  • Steve Holen, Watford City, superintendent, McKenzie County School District
  • Eric Nelson, Williston, technology director, Creedence Energy Services
  • Mark Vollmer, Minot, superintendent, Minot Public Schools

Under state law, the governor appoints members of the Board of Public School Education from a list of names proffered by a committee made up of the presidents of North Dakota United, the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders, and the North Dakota School Boards Association.

Holen and Fastnacht are incumbents on the board and are eligible for reappointment. Members of the Board of Public School Education do not have term limits.

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