After two terms on the Ralston Public Schools Board of Education, Rick Kollar has decide against running for another set of four years.
At the Jan. 13 board meeting, Kollar announced he would not seek re-election to the board, citing increased obligations in his working life at First Data Resources.
“When I thought about getting involved in the community, I never even imagined coming on this board,” Kollar told his colleagues. “I just saw this as a way of giving back to this community that’s given so much to me and my kids.”
During his tenure, Kollar often has been a vocal and colorful presence on the board.
Kollar was first elected to the board in 2006, in the midst of the “One City, One School” dispute with the Omaha Public Schools. He, along with most members of the board, was a crusader against the result of that fight: the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties.
The 11-school district governmental entity was created by the Nebraska Legislature following OPS’s effort to take over all the schools within the Omaha city limits, which included four elementary schools belonging to Ralston Public Schools.
Since, RPS has bristled at some Learning Community policies.
“It’s a debacle,” Kollar said. “It didn’t do what it’s supposed to do. It would be great as an experiment and you don’t know until you try, but it just didn’t work.”
Asked if he thought there might be a solution coming from the Nebraska Legislature on the Learning Community in his last year on the RPS Board, Kollar said he thinks it’s highly unlikely senators from western Nebraska will get involved with what’s perceived as an Omaha problem.
“And I can’t blame them,” he said. “The Learning Community is a two-county issue and western Nebraska is a pretty big voting block.”
Kollar served as president of the school board in 2010.
He is also notable for stands he took on the district’s fiscal situation, including voting against the hiring of several new teachers in 2011 and 2012.
Kollar’s stance ended up being somewhat prescient as the district faced a $2.67 million budget shortfall in 2012 and ended up cutting positions, including teachers, in the last budget cycle.
“As goes the economy, so go the schools,” he said. “That’s the way it’s always been.”
More recently, Kollar drew attention after he threatened a lawsuit against the district and the City of Omaha — a threat on which he has not followed through.
The genesis of his threat was erosion he claimed was being caused to his property from water flowing through a drainage canal owned by the city on land belonging to the school district.
Ralston school board members are elected at large, with two seats open this election cycle.
The Douglas County Election Commission website shows no candidates had filed as of Friday.
Deb Gerch, the board’s treasurer, is the other incumbent whose term will expire this year. Gerch was appointed to the board in 2012 to fill out the remainder of Keith Hanson’s term.