After becoming the target of a recall effort, Sparta School Board member Eric Solberg has resigned.
While Solberg told the Herald he received “uncomfortable emails’ along the lines of being watched that made him feel uneasy, it was ultimately the need to look out for his family and health first foremost, that led to his resignation.
This was affecting me to a very personal level that was affecting my health and my family and we needed to make a change,” he said.
Solberg and fellow board member Nancy Sikorsky are the targets of a recall effort organized by a parents group being led by Joshua Nichols and Melissa Brooks.
The group organized after the board voted 4-2 on Sept. 8 to reinstate a mask mandate in all Sparta public schools. While board members Josh Lydon and Collin Burns-Gilbert also voted to reinstate the mask mandate, only Solberg and Sikorsky were beyond the first year of their current term, a requirement to be eligible of recall.
Sikorsky said she also has received threats but didn’t want to comment on the nature of them.
However, she said, “We have one resignation from a young dad who’s doing a great job and I know he was threatened, If know he was bullied and I think that was very unfair.”
Sikorsky added that the board lost a very competent member and he will be missed.
She also defended her vote to reinstate the mask mandate, which also had two dissenting votes from board members James Rasmussen and Heidi Prestwood.
“I’m not an expert but we have a lot of smart people and that’s who I’m listening to right now – doctors, nurses, the public health officials,” said Sikorsky.
As for the recall effort itself, Brooks said last Wednesday at a parents meeting held in Memorial Park that she notified the school district of the recall effort and is now collecting signatures on a recall petition.
According to Monroe County Clerk Shelley Bohl, the petition will require at least 1,679 signatures of eligible voters in the Sparta School District. However, she isn’t sure if the school district crosses into other counties, which could bring that count up.
That number represents 25% of Sparta School District voters who cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election, held in November 2018.
Bohl adds that the cost of a recall election could be substantial. For Monroe County, the school district lies within the borders of 10 different municipalities, all of which will bill back the Sparta School District and ultimately its taxpayers.
And if enough candidates run for the two seats, triggering a primary election, that would double the costs.
“It’s definitely going to be thousands of dollars,” said Bohl. “It’s not going to anything minor by any means.”
A timeline for a recall election rests on if and when the recall petition is returned to the school district and certified. The petitioners have 60 days from the day they filed the petition to return the needed signatures, while the school district has 31 days to certify the signatures.
The Tomah School District also is receiving inquiries about how to conduct a recall of its board members. Its school board tabled action on a proposed mask mandate Sept. 7. The district is currently mask optional.
The Tomah School Board is scheduled to meet tomorrow night (Tuesday) to revisit the proposed mask mandate.
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