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New leader at helm

The Sunnyside School Board bade farewell to Miguel Puente last night after first taking its time establishing who would take his place as president of the board. The first order of business for the remaining four members of the school board was to elect a new president of the board. Director Lorenzo Garza Jr. nominated Director Rocky Simmons, who seconded his own nomination. The vote for a new president was split down the middle, with Garza and Simmons voting for and Directors Michelle Perry and Sandra Linde opposed. Perry, the vice president of the board, asked for other nominations, and Linde nominated Perry. The motion was not seconded. The board then retired into executive session to discuss the matter more frankly - specifically to address a complaint between a staff member and one of the directors. The executive session lasted about 25 minutes, with Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole only present in the session for a part of the time. When the board reconvened, Garza again nominated Simmons and this time Perry seconded the nomination. The vote was 4-0 and Simmons took over the position as president. The board then approved the resignation of Puente and offered him congratulations on his service to the board. "You've been dedicated to the community for 10 years," said Linde. "I am grateful to you for your service." Perry noted that the work of a director also impacts the board member's family, and thanked his family, many of whom were present, for their sacrifices. Garza told those in attendance that he admires Puente's cool attitude. "No matter how heated things get, you are always calm," he said. "It's been an honor serving with you." Other members of the public were allowed to speak, including former directors Steve Carpenter and Joanne Kilian. Carpenter said Puente's focus was always on the students. "He always said, 'let's do what's best for kids'," said Carpenter. "It was a pleasure to serve with him for seven years. I'm sad as a community member to see him leaving the board, but it's good to see he will still be involved in education." Kilian said that many school boards tend to pick apart the district, but Sunnyside's board works to make the district better by putting the students first. Sunnyside Mayor Jim Restucci also spoke, noting it was a wonder to serve with Puente in the city. Cole stated that Puente cares about every child in the community and presented Puente and his wife with a bouquet of purple flowers. After a short break for cupcakes, the board reconvened and addressed the matter of filling Puente's place on the board. Cole said the board has already received a letter of interest from Dylan Gardner. He is running unopposed for a school board seat in this fall's General Election. The board decided to extend the application period for those interested in being appointed to the board for one more week, closing it on Thursday, Aug. 1.

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