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Mitchell man named VP of SD Board of Education Standards

Gopal Vyas, left, speaks at an event in 2017 in Mitchell. (Republic file photo)

Two people who started serving a year ago will be the new officers leading the South Dakota Board of Education Standards in 2018.

Board members unanimously chose Susan Aguilar, of Sioux Falls, to be their president next year. They also chose Gopal Vyas, of Mitchell, as vice president.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard appointed Aguilar in January 2016 and Vyas in June 2016.

Glenna Fouberg, of Aberdeen, a past South Dakota teacher of the year, nominated each of them Monday. The meeting in Sioux Falls was live-streamed on the Internet.

The last meeting was the last for Fouberg, who's retiring from the state board when her current term expires Dec. 31. She served on the board 19 years and was the last member left appointed by the late Gov. Bill Janklow.

Aguilar, a past member of the Sioux Falls school board and the Sioux Falls city council, was vice president of the state board this year. She succeeds Don Kirkegaard of Sturgis as president next year.

Kirkegaard presided Monday in his last meeting as president, having held the gavel for the past six of his 11 years on the state board. He is superintendent of the Meade school district.

The governor recently chose Kirkegaard to be the next state secretary of education starting Jan. 1. Daugaard has one year remaining as governor and can't seek election to a third consecutive term.

Kirkegaard previously was superintendent for the Britton school system and began as a teacher and coach and later an administrator at Bristol. He replaces Melody Schopp.

Daugaard announced Oct. 13 that Schopp would retire Dec. 15. She was secretary since the start of Daugaard's administration in January 2011.

Kirkegaard gave Schopp a gift box. He didn't tell her what was inside, and she didn't open it while the meeting was being streamed on the Internet.

He also gave a Christmas cactus to Fouberg. He described her as a great spokesman for the students of South Dakota and "a great friend."

"I just don't do very well with plants but I'll try," Fouberg said.

Schopp said she was honored to have served as secretary. She praised the governor's decision to offer the job to Kirkegaard. "He's just a great choice," she said.

Fouberg returned the favor by giving a wall plaque to Kirkegaard marking his time as president.

Fouberg traditionally brought to meetings pretzel sticks with seasonal chocolate figures on one of the ends. This time she forgot them on a bench in the garage at home.

She remembered as she went through Webster — and decided that she wasn't backtracking 100 miles to get them.

The Senate Education Committee plans confirmation hearings Jan. 18 on the governor's two appointees to succeed Fouberg and Kirkegaard.

The new board members, if they receive Senate approval, are Aberdeen Superintendent Becky Guffin and former state Rep. Jacqueline Sly, of Rapid City, a retired teacher.