Once again the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education has elected a rookie board member as its president.
Jeffrey Miller was unanimously elected president of the District 96 school board just seconds after being sworn in May 5. Two years ago Mary Rose Mangia was elected board president in her first meeting as a board member.
Mangia, who has presided over a tumultuous two years, was elected vice-president of the school board in a 5 to 2 vote, besting new board member Lynda Murphy.
Miller became the fourth president of the District 96 school board in the last six years. Last week’s vote marked the fourth consecutive time that a new president was chosen at the board reorganization meeting.
“I believe I speak for the entire board in saying that we look forward to a productive, collaborative relationship with each other, with our talented and dedicated administrators, teachers and support staff, and with the community,” said Miller reading from a prepared statement.
Miller was the only board member nominated for president, though multiple sources have told the Landmark that Rich Regan was interested in the post. But when it came down to a choice between the two, Mangia chose to support Miller.
Mangia had actively backed a slate of four candidates in the April election, but Regan was the only one of the four elected.
“I think [Miller will] be very good for the board and the community,” Mangia said. “I think everybody knows he’s really, really smart, and I think he’s very talented.”
Regan downplayed the fact that he didn’t get nominated to be president, saying he was happy to serve the board in any capacity.
“If there were four school board members that expressed their desire for me to [become school board president] I would have thought about it,” Regan said. “I think in any process like this there’s always a lot of ideas floating around. I don’t think it’s any more than that.”
Mangia said it didn’t matter that she supported Miller’s opponent, Robert McCormack, in the school board election.
“I think it’s just time to move forward,” Mangia said. “Once the election is over it’s a new day. Whatever was in the past is in the past. I just think that’s once there’s an election you have to take a fresh look.”
Mangia said she did not actively seek to remain as board president.
Tuesday night’s vote for vice-president was particularly interesting. Rachel Marrello, who held that post for the past two years, nominated Murphy, while board member Randy Brockway nominated Mangia.
Only Marrello and Regan voted for Murphy for vice president while Shari Klyber, Miller, Mangia, Brockway and Murphy — who voted against herself — voted for Mangia.
“This board needs unity and healing after a very trying two years,” Marrello said in an email. “I believe that Lynda Murphy has the attributes of a good moderator and could successfully unify the new and current board members. Even though Ms. Murphy was not selected as V.P., I think every board member is committed to moving the board and the district in a new and positive direction.”
Brockway thanked Mangia for her service as president, acknowledging some of the difficulties that the board has faced since the 2013 election, after which Mangia was named board president.
“She’s done a tremendous amount of work,” Brockway said. “She’s done a lot of good work. She’s spent a lot of time on this beyond what most people understand. She’s also been the lighting rod of criticism.
“I think she’s underappreciated for the work that she’s done.”
Miller said he thought it was important to have a returning board member as vice-president and that Mangia was a natural choice to be vice president. The vice president’s main duty is to run a meeting in the absence of the board president.
“We really want to sort of create a collaborative spirit on the board and that means you can’t have new members coming in and taking all the committee chairs and taking all the officer positions,” Miller said. “We have to work with the people who have been on the board and remain on the board.”