Williston Education Association endorses school board incumbents for recall election

Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 3:17 PM CDT
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WILLISTON, N.D. (KUMV) - The Williston teacher’s union has voted to endorse the three incumbents for the upcoming school board recall election.

Williston Education Association President Eric Rooke said 75 percent of members who voted were in favor of supporting Board President Chris Jundt, Vice President Kyle Renner and John Kasmer. The vote was held after a public candidate forum last week. Rooke said the association believes there needs to be consistency in the current leadership.

“We want to make sure that we are supporting those people that are in those leadership roles right now so that we can keep working to build those relationships and keep moving forward,” said Rooke.

The union and school board haven’t always seen eye to eye. In 2021, rough negotiations between the two sides nearly led to an impasse. Rooke and members of the union also called for Jundt’s resignation over actions involving former superintendent Jeff Thake. With smooth negotiations in 2023, Rooke said the relationship between Jundt and the union is mending.

“[Jundt] and I have had a few great conversations in the last year or so. As we keep working together, that relationship will change and modify as time moves forward. I think we will be able to see eye to eye on a lot more things,” said Rooke.

On July 24, Jundt said he felt both sides have moved on.

“I think both sides have the same goal in mind, and that’s to make sure our students are getting the best education that they can in District 7. I know that’s WEA’s goal and I know that is our goal as a board as well,” said Jundt.

Besides a scathing audit of the Williston Public School District in 2021, opponents have argued that an uptick in teacher resignations this year calls for new board leadership. Rooke said there are several factors that can’t be directed at the board.

“I don’t necessarily believe that there’s a huge, major glaring issue with a specific policy or anything at this point. I think it’s just the unknown, the changes and the hardships that we have endured over the last few years. Teachers are just burned out, and it’s happening nationwide,” said Rooke.

The Williston Education Association represents nearly 80 percent of teachers in the Williston Basin School District.

Jundt, Renner and Kasmer are running against Jonathan Greiner, Ryan Park and Sharlet Mohr on August 8.