After several behind-closed-doors deliberations and nearly two weeks of contemplating the options, the South Colonie Central School District Board of Education has decided to leave the board seat vacated by Vernon Fonda in December unfilled until a new board member is elected in May.
Board President Tim Ryan told The Spotlight of the board’s decision after the district’s first budget discussion Tuesday, Jan. 13.
The board has decided to leave the seat vacant until the election, he said.
For weeks, the board had been considering three options after Fonda’s December resignation, which he said was due to personal reasons that created a time conflict with his board commitment. The options included holding a special election to fill the seat until May when the term would expire; appoint someone to the position; or leave the seat vacant and operate with an eight-member board.
Ryan said the board decided holding a special election would be costly at a time when the district was working to save money, and there were too many candidates to choose from in terms of appointing someone. There were between four and seven individuals interested in Fonda’s former position, Ryan said.
Ryan said the potential candidates had asked some very good questions and should consider running for the board in the election in May, when Fonda’s former seat and Ryan’s seat are up for vote. Ryan also said he is not sure whether he will run again for his position on the board and also mentioned the time commitment involved with being board president.
As Board Vice President Brian Casey and members Neil Johanning and Leonard Motto said the time commitment can reach nearly 35 hours a month, and, Ryan said, being a board member is not a paid position.
`I wanted to make sure the next generation would have the same quality of education that our three kids did,` Casey said of one of the reasons he decided to run for the board in 2005.
Of the now eight-member board, Motto is the last member to have a child attending school in the district, though Board Member Rick Dunn does have `one on the way,` according to Ryan.
Ryan said in his 15 years on the board he has never seen the board operate with eight members, and he has not heard of it being done in the past. But, `legally, it can be done,` he said.
Ryan said he does not foresee any conflicts with having an eight-member board, although he did explain the possibility of a 4-to-4 vote. Should that happen, Superintendent of Schools Jonathan Buhner said, the resolution would be tabled until the next meeting, giving board members the opportunity to discuss the issue, and then it will be voted on again.
Applicants who showed interest in being appointed will not be forgotten, Ryan said. The district plans to bring each of them in for Board of Education orientation workshops to show what it takes to be a member of the board.“