Both the Stafford Township and Southern Regional boards of education went through their reorganization procedures on Jan. 6, but it was the first time in their histories new or incumbent board members were sworn in at a distance, wearing face masks.
“There was a lot of information thrown at me and I’m really excited to read it all,” said Erin Sharkey, one of two new members sworn to the Stafford board. She already is planning for possible future stints following the one-year term she scored in November’s election. Chris Fritz, the other newcomer, couldn’t make it in person but was sworn in by phone.
“For the first year, I’m going (to) get acclimated and see how it all works,” Sharkey said. “But I’m excited to be a part of the team, and I think we have a really great set of members. Together, I believe we can help make some better changes for the district during the coming year.”
As part of the freshman crew to the squad – it also includes Kevin Cooney, brought onto the board last month following the resignation of Walter Jauch in November – Sharkey and Fritz shared in the vote to appoint Tammy Wagner as the new board president, while Joe Mangino, who had been acting president for about six weeks, was returned to the vice president seat he occupied before Jauch’s departure.
“I was thinking about getting involved last year, and this year an opportunity came about, so I threw my name in the hat and here I am,” Cooney said. “I like working with people and being part of the community, and I want to see the community do well. I’m a team player and I like working with a group, so I figured it would be a good time to serve the district.”
Whatever their contributions are going to be, Fritz, Cooney and Sharkey, along with most of the other board members, will be doing it on a new night of the week starting next month. The board almost unanimously, save Mark Zoladz, approved switching the meetings to the second Monday of each month, with the exception of this month’s regular meeting on Thursday, Jan. 21 – the board is required to give 30 days’ notice to the public for such changes to take effect – and the annual budget hearing, which is slated for Thursday, April 29.
The rest of the regular-meeting schedule is as follows: Feb. 8; March 8; April 12; May 10; June 14; July 12; Aug. 9; Sept. 13; Oct. 11; Nov. 8; and Dec. 13. All meetings, for now, are slated for the Stafford Township Arts Center.
As for Southern Regional’s first meeting of the new year, the most exciting portion of it was re-elected incumbent Heather Tatur’s community outreach report, during which she lauded the various efforts by Southern students, staff and alumni to deliver cases of food to St. Francis and St. Stephen’s Episcopal churches, provide care packages for the homeless of the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, accumulate dozens of Thanksgiving dinner baskets for Southern families in need, and, of course, the colossal effort for the annual rescue mission food drive.
“This year was the food drive 20th annual,” said Tatur, who described the mammoth effort of sorting all that was collected by staff, because students were no longer in the building for in-person instruction by the time of delivery. “2020 obviously was met with many challenges, so it wasn’t the largest number of items collected, but it definitely was a Christmas miracle. They were able to get 46,433 items for the rescue mission. So again, we are blessed to live where we live, surrounded by people who are awesome.”
Earlier in the meeting, Kevin Lyons was voted as board president for the year while Scott Zoladz was voted to the vice president’s seat. Lyons, who has occupied the president’s seat several times during his long tenure on the board, didn’t allow the board to adjourn until he gave a few closing remarks.
“I want to sincerely thank everybody for the past year,” he said. “Tom (Serpico) and Heather (as last year’s board president and vice president) did a great job … and especially to our administrative staff, Craig (Henry), Steve (Terhune), Megan (Vile), and everybody else. It’s been such a trying year, and hopefully there’s light at the end of the tunnel now, but I appreciate everything everybody’s done here.”
The rest of the Southern board’s regular meetings for year will be as follows: Feb. 10; March 10; April 14; May 5; June 9; July 7; Aug. 18; Sept. 8; Oct. 13; Nov. 10; and Dec. 8.
— David Biggy