While two candidates appear on the ballot for the Feb. 13 Grove School Board election, only one formally remains in the race.

On Friday, Feb. 2, Reneé Diver posted her resignation letter as a post on her personal Facebook page. 

In it, she states her reasons why she ran for the seat, currently being filled by Audrey Crawford, and the things which have changed since she formally filed for office in December.

"I ran for the Grove Public School Board Seat #3 because no one else had put their name in the hat on the last day to file, and I knew I wanted someone in the spot who genuinely cares for and supports our public school system," Diver said. "I know I’m that person, but I’ve recently come to know Karen Dyer, and she is that person too.

"I’ve spoken with Karen, and five years from now we agreed it very well could be the right time for me to step in. But in this moment I need to focus on what demands my full attention, primarily raising a 4, 2, and 5 month old, and growing a promising business that (if tended properly), could bring more jobs to Grove that would ultimately benefit our community and school system as a whole."

Election ramifications

Dixie Smith, Delaware County election secretary, said it is too late to pull Diver's name from the ballot. That decision would have needed to be made within days of the filing deadline in December.

"After the filing period, there's no going back," Smith said.

Had Diver withdrawn before the December deadline, the school board election would not have been need, since there were only two candidates on the ballot. 

However, because the deadline passed before Diver made her decision, the school district will still be required by law, to have - and pay for - the election on Feb. 13.

Smith said should Diver win the election, and she chooses to follow through with her current decision, she will need to formally resign the seat after the election.

The current school board can then choose to appoint a candidate to fill the seat for one year, or have another election.

If someone is appointed to fill the seat, the person would serve until the next school board election in February 2019.

At that time two board seats could be up for grabs, as the one currently filled by Jerry Crossley expires in 2019.

Smith said absentee voting has already begun, and early voting begins on Thursday, so ballots cannot be reprinted without Diver's name. 

The school district has already paid the county election board approximately $900 in pre-election expenses.

The final cost of the election will not be known until after Feb. 13, because the district is sharing the total costs of the election with two other entities, including the District 1 County Commissioner race.

Grove Superintendent Sandy Coaly learned of Diver's decision on Monday. 

"I'm very disappointed," Coaly said. "This is a waste of school money which could have been spent elsewhere. However, I know Karen Dyer will do a great job.

"Your heart needs to be in [the school board]. It's a servant's job. You have to be willing to be active and have time to serve."

Coaly said the last school-wide election cost the district almost $4,000. She does not expect the Feb. 13 election to exceed that figure because of sharing the expenses.

This will be one of two elections school district officials will be required to fund in 2018. The second, a transportation bond issue, is set to take place on March 6.

Behind the decision

Reneé Diver, 37, has lived in the Grove School District since 2008. Diver and her husband, James, own and operate Cellfill, a cellular concrete manufacturing and production company, based in the industrial park in Grove.

The couple have three daughters: Alice, 4, Lyla, 2, and Evelyn, 4 months.

In a statement emailed to The Grove Sun, Diver said she initially ran for the office because she believes the public school system is "vital to the health of our community."

"As someone involved with Rotary and my local home church, and an avid Ridgerunner supporter (James and I were attending games and fundraisers even before we had children), I have a heart to serve," Diver said. "Coming from a small town in Kansas where the entire town showed up for game nights each Friday, I’ve seen how a community and school can work together to better everyone.

"I know it can be done and I was excited to bring a few ideas to the table."

Diver said since the filing deadline in December, her family's cellular concrete business, CellFill, LLC., has "exploded with growth."

"We are in the process of multiplying our workforce and currently operate across Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas and Nebraska," Diver said. "The workload of nurturing and managing the growth of our livelihood, coupled with the ever present need to be the best mom I can be to my 4, 2 and 5-month-old fill the majority of my plate."

Diver said other volunteer activities with her church, First United Methodist Church, as well as organizing the community-wide Fathers of the King daddy/daughter dance and helping with the community organization MOPS [Mothers of Preschoolers] have also expanded.

"Upon deep personal and prayerful reflection, I realized that this season of life might not be the one for me to add a job that requires so much time," Diver said. "If elected, I want to do my absolute best for our schools, and the reality is, I may not have the capacity to do so with so many other important commitments happening at this moment."

Diver said she has reached out to Dyer, to find out her reasonings for running for office.

"Bottom line, she cares just as much as I do and has grown into a new season where she is ready for the time commitment of serving," Diver said. "Her children are older. Her life is at a different stage. She is a good fit."

Diver said she continues to have high hopes for the school board and the Grove Public School system.

"With a new superintendent coming in there will be inherent change. We have amazing candidates, and I just pray that the right one is placed to get Grove to the best place we can be for our kids," Diver said. "Money is always an issue, let’s find it. Community involvement is key, let’s rally. Teachers need support, let’s give it to them.

"There is so much to do, and if I can help in a smaller/support capacity now to affect that change I am more than willing."

Diver did not rule out running for office again, when the seat reopens in four years.

"If a seat opens up again, I can definitely see myself stepping in to add even more value," Diver said. "The great news? Karen is a thoughtful and smart candidate who I am happy to know and support. Grove is in good hands."

More about Dyer

Karen Dyer has lived in the Grove School System since 2004. She and her husband, Marty, have two daughters: Emma, 14, and Abbi, 11, both students within the school system.

She works as a business analyst for a New York-based company which supplies products to Walmart.

In a nutshell, she said, in a written statement provided to The Grove Sun, she is responsible for creating, managing and achieving sales plans for Walmart each year.

"One of the main things that has driven Walmart’s success over the years is that they are focused on giving their associates the tools they need to do their job so they can focus on taking care of customers," Dyer said. "This has been engrained in me for 25 years and it works!

"This is the mindset that I would bring to the Grove School Board. If we strive to give the teachers and staff the tools they need to do their job, then they in turn will take care even better care of our students!"

Dyer said she has been involved within the school district, in various capacities, since her daughters began preschool. She sees serving on the school board as an opportunity to take her service to the next level.

"I understand that this is an easy statement to make but much harder to achieve due to budget constraints," Dyer said. "Great strides have been made in improving our schools over the years and we must continue to move forward.

"There will always be something new on the horizon as we live in a world of ever changing technology. The challenge will always be spending the funding in the best way possible to continue to improve the educational experience of our children. This is a huge endeavor."

Dyer said several changes have taken place in the district, within the past 10 years, which made a positive impact on the community - from the Early Childhood Center's competition, and the expansion of the Lower Elementary, to the new football field and the recently completed Performing Arts Center.

"[There's] so much to be proud of and excited about," Dyer said. "I want to see this growth and improvement continue in the years to come. I know funding is always a challenge for education but with creative budgeting and community support we can come together and continue to make positive changes in our schools.

"I am very excited about the possibility of this new position and I would be humbled to join the team of talented board members already in place. I hope I would bring a new perspective based on my knowledge and experiences that will continue to move us forward."