The Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education hopes to fill two vacancies on the board by early October. The vacancies opened up on Aug. 28, when Lisa Gaynor and David Kodama abruptly resigned from the school board, setting off a firestorm in the district.
At a special meeting on Sept. 2, the remaining five members of the school board voted unanimously to accept the resignations of Gaynor and Kodama. Meanwhile, school board President Mary Rose Mangia and the board agreed on a process to fill the vacancies.
The board will accept applications from those who wish to be considered for appointment to the school board until Sept. 10.
At its regular meeting on Sept. 23 the board will look at the applications and winnow the candidates to a group of finalists, who will be interviewed at a special meeting tentatively scheduled for Sept. 30.
The board hopes to appoint two new members at a special meeting on Oct. 7, a date when the board’s education committee is scheduled to meet. By law, the board has 45 days from the date the resignations become effective to fill the vacancies.
One unusual aspect of the process is that the board plans to disclose the names of all of those who apply.
“That is on the advice of our lawyers,” Mangia said.
When Gaynor was appointed to fill a vacancy in 2011, the school board didn’t interview any of the applicants.
Various groups and individuals are mobilizing to encourage people to influence the choice of replacement school board members.
Former school board member Jennifer Leimberer and district parent Rory Dominick organized a meeting Wednesday night on the third floor of the Riverside Township Hall and attracted about 25 people.
No decisions were made at the meeting about who should apply for the vacancies, although an email sent out by Leimberer on Aug. 30 said that one purpose of the meeting would be to “help identify and support people that will file letters of intent.”
“We did encourage people, but we didn’t identify them,” Leimberer said Thursday morning. “They have to figure out whether or not that’s something that they can take out of their family life right now, so we’re going to wait and see who actually files and see what happens from there.”
Both Leimberer and Dominick told the Landmark that they do not plan on applying to be school board members.
At Wednesday’s meeting various concerns were identified, including the preparation for meetings by current members of the school board, the board’s implementation of policy and procedures, training and attitude toward the upcoming teacher contract negotiations and the cost and ramifications of replacing the superintendent.
Once the names of all the applicants are released, Leimberer is planning to organize some sort of online survey to determine which two applicants have the most support in the community.
Others are also trying to encourage people to apply.
Chris Robling, who helped recruit Mangia, Rachel Marrello and Randy Brockway to run in 2013, sent out a mass email on Saturday encouraging qualified and interested people to consider applying the serve on the school board.
At least one board member has also contacted an acquaintance to ask that person to consider applying to fill a vacancy.
The entire school board will vote on who is appointed to the school board. The appointees will serve until next spring, when four seats on the school board will be at stake in an election.