Public to have say on SD 135 board pick
Residents of Orland School District 135 won’t have a vote, but will have a chance to ask questions of candidates who’ll be considered to fill a vacancy on the board.
After new school board members Laura Berry, Michael Carroll, Sandra Kulak and Michael Maratea were seated at a special meeting Monday, Joe La Margo, unanimously elected board president, said the process would be made “as transparent as possible.”
John Carmody, who had been board president, resigned April 25, which resulted in a special meeting being called for April 30 to pick a replacement. Board members couldn’t take any action at that meeting, however, because three members didn’t attend and there wasn’t a quorum.
La Margo said Monday that the district hoped to post a questionnaire on its website for people who are interested in the board opening, and that a public forum would be held to allow district residents a chance to query the candidates.
He said the district has to have the vacancy filled by early June, and that he hoped the board could consider four or five candidates.
Monday was the last board meeting for Mary Bragg and Tom Cunningham, both of whom were first elected in April 2005, as well as for Lynne Donegan and Ann Gentile, both elected in April 2009. The four were defeated in last month’s election.
Donegan said that during her time on the board she’d been “bullied and threatened” by some of her colleagues, and that the board often had lost sight of its primary objective of keeping the best interests of students foremost in its decisions.
“We were a dysfunctional board,” she said.
Cunningham said that he had “reached across the aisle many times” on divisive issues, and had “not always agreed” with his fellow board members on every issue.
“It’s someone else’s turn,” he said of the four new board members.
La Margo, after his election as board president, said he and other board members are “going to get back to basics,” telling dozens of District 135 staffers gathered for the meeting in the gymnasium of Center School “watch us walk the walk now.”
Eve Bukowski, president of District 135’s teachers union, urged the new board to “show the community we can move forward.” The union had backed the four candidates who won board seats.
“Now is the time,” she said. “We must work together.”