Ruth Gmeinder has resigned from the Brainerd School Board but it's premature to talk about the spirited Brainerd High School graduate in the past tense. No doubt, the energetic East Gull Lake resident will continue to be active in worthwhile causes that are close to her heart.
In the commotion that followed the Brainerd School Board member's sudden resignation and the uproar about the extra $1.6 million in the district's unreserved fund balance after cuts of $5.5 million were made, it would be wrong to overlook Gmeinder's many contributions to the community. Those efforts go beyond her nearly two decades of service on the Brainerd School Board.
Children have always been at the forefront of Gmeinder's community efforts. In 1980, she was the first director of Crow Wing County's Women, Infants and Children supplemental food program in 1980. She was Brainerd's 1998 Citizen of the Year, is active in the Brainerd Noon Rotary Club and has been an strong proponent of Rotary's Project Literacy campaign.
During her service on the school board there has been no stauncher defender of the Brainerd School District. That's why her abrupt resignation was such a shock to many people. Her decision to resign was, no doubt, a difficult one. Citizens who are on the sideline can debate whether she should have stayed on and pressed for changes but Gmeinder did what she thought was right, both for her and for the school district.
Now the school board must name a successor. It's imperative the school board announce the dates when people can apply for the position and that the selection process be as open as possible. If they are able to find a candidate with a degree of financial expertise, that would be a definite plus. Just as important, however, is that the board selects someone with the passion and enthusiasm that Gmeinder has personified since 1989.
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