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BEA Board adds a new member

By Staff | Jun 2, 2019

BEA board members study their notes during the interview of Jeff Eckles.

Blue Earth Area has a new School Board member after the current School Board interviewed two applicants on Thursday, May 30.

Maria Frank and Jeff Eckles were both interested in being a part of the BEA School Board and were interviewed extensively by the current board.

After the interviews, the board chose Eckles as its new member.

Frank was first on the docket, she shared with the board that English was her second language and was originally from Loredo, Texas.

“I am Hispanic, and I don’t believe there has been anyone on the board who has been Hispanic. I believe with my presence on the board, it would give Hispanic residents and parents a better voice in what is going on at the school. Hispanic residents want a voice and they feel that their voice is not being heard, I’d like to be that voice for them,” she told the board when asked what experiences she may bring to the board.

She is a mother of four, three of her children are students in the district.

When asked what motivated her to apply to be on the school board, she stated that the school has faced a few negative issues in the past few years and she wants to bring BEA back to what it used to be.

“We need to increase our enrollment numbers and bring the kids back, I think that’s a very big concern that BEA is facing right now,” said Frank, who has served as a music director at Trinity Lutheran Church in the past, and has also been a para for BEA schools in the past as well. “I am always willing to help and do whatever I can to better the school.”After the board finished the interview of Frank it was Eckles’ turn to address the board. Eckles has been a familiar face to the School Board as he has attended meetings fairly regularly as a BEA citizen.

Originally from Houston, Texas, Eckles has been working at Bevcomm for the past 10 years. He has two children that are students of the district. He is currently a member of the Blue Earth Fire Department, and spent nine years in the National Guard.

“I’ve been kind of all over. I’ve experienced many different businesses and many different school districts and have realized there are many different ways of doing things,” he said. “I think that is what I can bring to the board. I try to learn from everyone that I come into contact with to come up with new ideas and solutions to problems.”

When it comes to what motivates Eckles for wanting to be on the School Board, he said he just wants to make a difference.

“I just hope to make an impact on my little corner of the world.”

Eckles was on the same page with Frank when it came to BEA’s number one challenge the school is facing: declining enrollment.

The father of two said the number one strength of the school district is it’s teachers.

“I hear it from my kids, I hear it at the parent-teacher conferences,” he said. “We have some of the greatest teachers in the area. They set us apart from other schools.”

After both applicants were interviewed by the board, the current members took time to discuss who they thought would be best for the board.

Ultimately, the board chose Eckles to fill in the open seat on the board.

“I was impressed by both candidates,” said Susan Benz. “But for me, Jeff has been here at so many meetings as a citizen, and that shows me that he is truly interested. Maria certainly has a special place in her heart for the students, and I hope she applies again in the future.”

Sara Hauskins made a motion to accept Eckles as the new board member, and was seconded by Stacy Beyer. The vote to accept Eckles was 6-0.

The public now has 30 days to respond to the appointment via petition, and after that 30 days, Eckles will become an official board member at the June School Board meeting.