School Board Unable To Fill Unexpired Term, Will Try Again On April 23

Laurie Merris

Laurie Merris emerged as the front-runner April 13 in the selection process for an unexpired Board of Education term.

Board of Education members will try again April 23 to pick someone to fill an unexpired term.

The board could not agree on a candidate at a special April 13 meeting, although it did whittle the field from five candidates to two.

Emerging at the top of the pack after two rounds of voting were Wilson Road resident Laurie Merris and former board member Richard Seamon of Rue Chagall. Merris was an unsuccessful board candidate in the 2014 election,

Merris and Seamon were picked after they and the three other candidates – John Kinghorn of Weston Road, Joshua Ruszkiewicz of Fir Court and C. Kelly Zehr of Ari Drive – answered seven questions each posed by the sitting board members.

After the interviews, members were asked to rate their top three candidates. Merris was ranked number one by four board members, while Seamon was ranked number one by three. A candidate needs five votes to be selected.

A second round of voting yielded the same results.

The board has until late May to fill the seat, which was vacated by the resignation of Richard Arline. If the board cannot decide, information on the candidates will be sent to interim Executive Somerset County Schools Superintendent Juan Torres for his pick.

2015 Candidate Interviews1

Former Board of Education member Richard Seamon speaks to the school board April 13.

Seamon, who was on the board from 2000 to 2003 and 2010 to 2013, when he lost re-election, said he wanted to rejoin the board because he “enjoyed the process of helping make our schools better.”

One of the architects of the successful 2014 referendum campaign, Seamon said he wold also like to return to see the capital projects through to completion.

Merris said she wants to be on the board because she is “passionate about being part of the team that will be responsible for providing excellent education for all of our students.

She said she wants to “strengthen communication between parents and schools, such that it helps parents increase their commitments to work with the people in the schools to help our kids excel.”

C. Kelly Zehr

C. Kelly Zehr at the April 13 Board of Education special meeting.

Zehr said she’s ben active with her Parent-Teachers Organization since her children have ben in school, and added that “the best thing I can give my kids is an education.”

“I think I can give you a new perspective, and I think that would be a welcome thing for the board,” she said.

Ruszkiewicz, who said he was a private school teacher for five years, said being on the board would be “another step in my opportunities to give back, to help others have a solid education like I had.”

He listed being a problem solver and having the ability to work with others as skills that would help him as a board member.

Joshua Ruszkiewicz

Joshua Ruszkiewicz said serving on the school board would further his personal goal of “giving back” to his community.

Kinghorn, who said he is a 30-year resident, said he wanted to be on the board “to benefit the community.”

He said the one of the biggest issues in the district is that of “talent management.”

“We need quality leaders at every level of the district,” he said.

John Kinghorn

John Kinghorn said the district’s main focus should be on “talent management.”

Kinghorn said that once a new schools Superintendent is hired, “overseeing that superintendent’s work in talent management is the Number One factor that would affect education in this district.”









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