SIOUX CITY -- "This is positively surreal," Jackie Warnstadt said moments before her first meeting as a member of the Sioux City Community School Board.
Warntadt, a teacher with the Sioux City school district for 36 years, remembered attending several board meetings before her retirement from Leeds Elementary School last spring.
"I'd sit in back and sneak out whenever I wanted to," she said with a laugh. "That won't be the case any longer."
Warnstadt and Greg Grupp were sworn into office as the school board's newest members Monday night.
In the Sept. 9 election, Grupp, president of Sioux City's U.S. Bank, received 1,938 votes. Warnstadt, a former Sioux City and Iowa Teacher of the Year, received 1,786 votes. They defeated Douglas Van Der Voort and Jerrid Kruse for seats left vacant by retiring school board members Ron Jorgensen and Judy Peterson.
"I'm looking forward to serving the next three years," Grupp told the board. "We may have some differences, but we all share a common goal. And that is to educate our children."
"Ron and Judy have done some wonderful things for the district," Warnstadt added. "We'll have some big shoes to fill."
Peterson and Jorgensen were recognized by former Superintendent Larry Williams for their service to the board.
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"Judy has served the board well for the past nine years," Williams said. "She has graced the board with her generous personality and served the community with her fine, analytical mind and the instincts of a wise mother."
Williams also called Peterson "the E.F. Hutton of the school board."
"When she talked," he said with a smile, "everybody listened."
Williams complimented Jorgensen for being "a tireless and articulate" advocate for education.
"As board president, Ron was widely admired for his thoughtful leadership," he said. "And the board certainly gained credibility as good stewards because of Ron's fiscal acuity."
Prior to the start of the meeting, Jorgensen said the six years he served on the board "have been very rewarding."
"I have a much better appreciation of all the hard work that goes into a school district," he said. "The strength of this district comes from its wonderful board, administrators and faculty members."
Replacing Jorgensen as board president will be board member Doug Batcheller. John Meyer, not present at Monday's meeting, will replace James Daane as the board's vice president.
"The challenges facing this district are many," Batcheller said. "But our No. 1 priority must be to improve our district's student achievement scores. As president, I will do my utmost to see those scores improve."