Editor's note: The Journal today continues its countdown of the Top 10 Stories of 2019 in Siouxland, as chosen by Journal editors. The No. 1 story will be revealed on Dec. 30, and the Journal's annual Newsmaker of the Year will be named on Dec. 31.
SIOUX CITY -- When meetings of the Sioux City School Board start up again on Jan. 13, newly elected board member Dan Greenwell will push for more scrutiny of spending and revenues for the district budget.
There was substantial turnover on the seven-member school board in November. Three of the four members up for reelection did not seek another term, while the sole incumbent who ran, Miyuki Nelson, finished fifth in a six-candidate field.
Greenwell, a longtime critics of Superintendent Paul Gausman's administration, was easily the top vote-getter with 6,571 votes in the Nov. 5 board election. Also winning seats were Julie Albert with 4,947 votes, Monique Scarlett with 4,495 votes and Taylor Goodvin with 4,351 votes. Nelson received 4,151 votes, just ahead of Shaun Broyhill, with 4,078.
Greenwell's convincing win capped a busy year for the Sioux City businessman, who repeatedly pushed the board to ask the Iowa state auditor to reexamine the district's finances. In November, Auditor Rob Sand agreed to do just that. A team from his office will visit the district in April to conduct a reaudit of the budget that ended June 30, 2018.
In recent years, Greenwell emerged as the top citizen watchdog of the school district.
At the first meeting of the new board in November, Jeremy Saint was re-elected as board president. Greenwell mounted a campaign to be vice president, saying he would represent the new wave of change. But the majority of the board instead selected Ron Colling as vice president. The other holdover board member is Perla Alarcon-Flory.
Greenwell said the election results show local residents want more accountability from the board, which sets the policy for a school system that educates nearly 15,000 students and employs nearly 2,000, with a more than $200 million annual budget.
Greenwell said the state auditor's decision to reexamine the district's finances shows the agency shared his concern that existing "audit procedures for administrative expenses were inadequate."
He is also seeking to change the timing of when people can speak on any issue of concern during the public comment portion of meetings. In November and December, he spoke in support of moving the public comment portion from the end of the meetings to the beginning.
In June 2018, the school board stopped public comments at the beginning of meetings.
Greenwell said the best reason to have public comment at the beginning of the meetings is to lessen the wait for people to discuss issues of concern. He also said the public comment period was moved to the end of meetings in order to lessen the likelihood that people bring concerns to the board.
Saint said any change would best be addressed by the district's Policy Review Committee with a recommendation to board members.