TRAVERSE CITY — There’s a few more hats in the ring, a few more hopefuls to fill an empty seat on Traverse City Area Public Schools’ Board of Education.
Twelve district residents joined an initial applicant in the contest to fill the board’s vacant seat after officials extended an application deadline last week. Karl “Bill” Dungjen, of Leelanau County’s Solon Township, was the lone person to apply for the board post prior to the deadline extension.
Dorris Ellery, of Garfield Township, said she decided to add her name to the list after she learned there was only one application for the vacancy.
“That really concerned me,” said Ellery, whose daughter is a student at West Senior High School. “I wanted to make sure there was support out there in the community for the district and the school board.”
Dungjen said he was glad the district received more applications.
“I’m pleased they have other applicants,” he said. “I think that’s great.”
Many of the new applicants, including former Grand Traverse County Commissioner Rob Hentschel, of East Bay Township, live outside Traverse City limits.
Brian Utter, of Interlochen, is one of the furthest removed from the district’s center. Utter, who works as a United States Postal Service mail carrier, said he will bring a “working class” perspective to the board, something he said it lacks.
“There’s a reason people voted down the last millage,” Utter said of Interlochen residents. “They think that money is being wasted. They worry about that because they are supporting their families.”
Applicant Kelly Clark teaches at TCAPs’ East Middle School, but he’s requested a leave of absence to pursue his own business. Clark said he’ll withdraw his application if he’s granted the leave of absence, but if it’s denied he’ll likely resign from teaching and, he hopes, join the TCAPS board.