FULTON, Ill. — The recent departure of Benji Grant has left the River Bend Board of Education one person down, but members are working diligently to fill the void as quickly as possible.

When the time came in December for four board members to petition and rerun for their seats on the board, Grant announced he would resign as an acting member. Since that time, River Bend Superintendent Darryl Hogue said an opportunity began for members of the community to write-in their candidacy for the vacated seat. After receiving zero write-in applicants, Hogue realized the board of education would have to take a different approach and released a notice to all interested candidates to apply for the position.

“Once that write-in time period exhausted then it began this process,” Hogue said. “At our (March) board meeting, the board approved me to put together an application process for people to apply for an interview. We’ve had one application turned in, and I’ve actually taken a call and met with a gentleman that is interested.”

Letters of interest and resumes will be accepted until April 17 by President Dan Portz, who will then deliberate potential candidates with the remaining members of the board. Once Portz and the others have narrowed down the selection, an interview process is expected to take place.

In order for a candidate to be considered though, the person must first meet a series of specific guidelines.

According to the notice released by the BOE, a potential board member must be a citizen of the United States of at least 18 years old, a resident of the school district for at least one year immediately preceding the appointment, and be a registered voter. The successful candidate must also be willing to file a statement of economic interest as required by the Governmental Ethics Act.

While those requirements are mandated by the state of Illinois and the district, it’s the personal interest a candidate has in the position that is most important to Portz.

“We’re looking for anybody that’s best interest is for the students,” Portz said. “I don’t think it’s that important for the person to have a child in the district; anybody who’s wholeheartedly invested in what’s best for the students will be a good candidate.”

Though Portz is a dedicated member of the River Bend BOE and expects whomever is appointed to do the same, he admits that taking responsibility for the future of the district is a time-consuming job, an unpaid one, he said while laughing.

“Typically people will bow out if they are not that interested because it is a time commitment,” he said.

Hogue too understands the stress that time commitment can put on a board member, but he doesn’t feel that will hinder its chances of finding a strong candidate to fill the position.

It is his hope and the hope of the board that the vacated seat will be occupied by the time the May 18 meeting is called to order.

“This kind of thing has happened before, I’m not sure when, but I know it happens when board members step down,” Hogue said. “Two of our current board members were appointed and not elected, so it’s not uncommon. (The board) just hopes to fill the position with someone that will be a good fit.”

Clinton Herald Staff Writer Amy Kent can be contacted at amykent@clintonherald.com.