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Scottsbluff school board swears in new members, elects officers as board confronts superintendent search

Scottsbluff school board swears in new members, elects officers as board confronts superintendent search

Long-time member Ruth Kozal was appointed president of the Scottsbluff Public Schools Board of Education on Monday. Kozal was nominated by board member Lori Browning, had no challenger for the position, and was elected with a unanimous vote.

Newly-elected members Beth Merrigan and Scott Reisig were also sworn in as members of the school board after winning the election in November. Merrigan and Reisig join Kozal, Browning, Paul Snyder and Mark Lang on the Board of Education for the Panhandle’s largest school district. The board also made Snyder, another long-time member, the vice-president.

While the board is a legislative and oversight body, this year has presented the six-member board with a major challenge. In December, SBPS Superintendent Rick Myles announced he would retire at the end of the school year. For the school board, that triggered a search to find his replacement.

Last week, the school board decided to go ahead with finding a long-term replacement for Myles instead of searching for an interim head. A tentative timeline reviewed last week foreshadowed the district interviewing and hiring process for a new executive in March.

“The superintendent really sets the tone for everything,” Kozal said.

This year marks Kozal’s 11th year on the board and her second go-around as president.

Kozal grew up in Iowa. She graduated from Forest City High School and received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa. She taught high school math in Osage, Iowa, for two years until a career change took her into the software and banking industry in the 1980s. She is currently employed by Jack Henry & Associates Inc. as a Senior Software Engineer. Kozal has been a resident of Scottsbluff since 1990.

She has a son, a step-son and three step-daughters, all of them having attended and graduated from Scottsbluff Public Schools, according to the district.

Kozal said her first priority was hiring a new superintendent. The next board meeting, a work session to discuss the superintendent search, on Friday at 5 p.m.

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Justin Garcia is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9044 or

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