Several newcomers were elected to the Omaha Public Schools board at a time the district is facing unprecedented challenges because of the global pandemic.
In March, concerns about the novel coronavirus abruptly closed schools. OPS students returned to in-person lessons in October after starting the school year with remote learning. Some students opted to keep doing remote learning, and those attending in person are on a modified schedule that has them attending for only part of the week. Teachers have told the nine-member school board that juggling the in-person and remote lessons has left them exhausted and stressed.
Current board members Ben Perlman, Amanda Ryan and Lou Ann Goding did not seek reelection.
Two OPS dads squared off to replace Perlman in Subdistrict 3, which represents Dundee, parts of midtown and north-central Omaha. Nick Thielen, an attorney, was leading Alex Gates, a technology entrepreneur.
Two former OPS teachers were vying for the Subdistrict 7 spot on the board currently held by Ryan. The seat covers parts of south-central Omaha.
Jane Erdenberger, now retired, was a public finance bond lawyer at Kutak Rock for 22 years, then taught at North High School for 16 years and at the Omaha Home for Boys for about two years.
Erdenberger defeated Keegan Korf, a former OPS special education paraprofessional, English teacher and education technology specialist.
Spencer Head, senior vice president of EZ Politix, will replace Goding in Subdistrict 5. He did not have an opponent.
Unofficial results show incumbent Ricky Smith, director of Omaha 360, an anticrime community collaborative, easily held on to his Subdistrict 1 seat. He faced perennial candidate Mort Sullivan to represent parts of Benson and North Omaha.
Incumbent Tracy Casady faced a challenge from Erik Servellon to represent the Subdistrict 9 seat, which covers South Omaha. Casady was leading Servellon at press time.