For the Good of the School District

By Richard Seamon, Somerset.

Over the past 14 years, I have had the privilege of serving two terms on the Franklin Township Board of Education – which encompassed a total of 6 years and 8 months.  During my first term, I played a significant part in the successful referendum for the new High School and then served on the Facilities Committee, which oversaw the final design of the new building.  During my second term, as chair of the Facilities Committee, I managed the creation and implementation of the Long Range Facility Plan, the current Referendum Plan for the District and the Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP), as well as worked with District administration to complete the previously unfinished athletic complex at the high school; as chair of the Ad-Hoc Strategic Plan Committee, I managed the creation and implementation of the District’s Strategic Plan 2012 – 2015.  I also served on the Negotiations Committee, which worked successfully with the FTEA to agree to 4 years of contracts during the most difficult economic period that we have experienced in decades.

At the end of my last term, I ran for re-election in the hopes that I could follow through on the Referendum and ESIP programs and manage them to their successful conclusion; unfortunately, I was not re-elected and the Referendum, ESIP Program and Strategic Plans have languished in 2014 due to a Board of Education that is paralyzed due to its own poor management and absolute lack of any direction from Board leadership.  Our current Board has created such a negative environment that our District currently does not have a permanent Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Assistant Superintendent for Business, Director of Personnel, High School Principal, Director of Guidance and Athletic Director.  Personally, my heart aches for the children and staff of this District who will continue to be negatively affected by a lack of permanent and consistent oversight, rising class sizes and buildings that are crumbling due to maintenance that the Board has deferred year after year.  So much work was done by so many people yet, our Board has allowed the District to wither on the vine in front of our eyes.

So, in July I submitted my name to Somerset County to run for the Board of Education again in the hopes of being part of the solution that our District desperately needs.  This year, four Board seats are up for election and it is critical for our District that the leadership of our Board is infused with new blood, new ideas and people who are willing to serve ethically and without regard for their personal needs or desires.

The desire to be a volunteer is a truly selfless act that my parents instilled in me at an early age. Volunteering to enhance a child’s opportunities or to help others in need is something I take very seriously and I’ll always say YES when asked. However, it is important to recognize that I don’t do this for any personal gain; I do this because I believe it’s imperative that we not just live in our community but we must actively serve to make it the best community that it can be.  My first impulse is to say YES and volunteer however, sometimes the best thing we can do is to personally step aside because we have found a better solution.  Having said this, I must advise that I have notified the County to rescind my name from the Board of Education election.

A unified Board of Education is needed to ensure a brighter future for our Schools.  Three candidates who submitted their petitions individually have found common ground in their vision for our District.  Latee Walton McCleod, Alex Kharazi and Ed Potosnak have come together with different backgrounds and experiences but, they are bound together in their desire to find a way to dispense with the current politics of destruction that has infected our Board of Education for the last 3-plus years and work together to bring new leadership and a new direction for Franklin Township.  After meeting with them, it is clear to me that the best thing I can do for the District at this moment is to rescind my name from consideration and fully support McCleod, Kharazi and Potosnak for the Board of Education, as well as Margaret Steele for the one-year term.

My service to our township will not end here.  I will continue on the Executive Board of the Franklin Township Soccer Club, as well as assisting my son’s Boy Scout however I can.  With regard to the Board of Education, I remain available to serve in any capacity that I can especially with regard to the referendum, ESIP Program and the Strategic Plan.  I want to thank the people who signed my petition and assure them that I believe this action is the best for the District.

Please join with me and support McCleod, Kharazi, Potosnak and Steele for the Board of Education.

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