WESTFIELD - It's deja vu all over again.
For the second time in five months, the Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education is short one member as Vice President Tony Pisicoli resigned at the board's last meeting on Monday, Feb. 27.
"Family obligations and professional opportunities require me to move out of the district before the expiration of my current term," Pisicoli's letter of resignation read. "I have become a better man for having had the opportunity to live, work and volunteer here in Westfield and for that I am forever indebted to this small town and all the amazing people I have encountered along the way."
Board President Marie Edwards said she was "without words" to thank Pisicoli for the effort and time he has donated to the board.
"And you have changed all our lives too," Edwards said. "You will be sorely missed and we wish you very good luck in your endeavors."
As far as filling the vacancy, the board has 90 days to fill the seat by appointment or by election, which could be part of the already scheduled May 15 vote for the budget and board seats. Edwards was in favor of filling the position before the election because upcoming decisions would be easier to make with a full board. Board member Joy Bodenmiller agreed and brought up selecting someone from the candidate pool created from the previous vacancy since it would not save much time to advertise and fill the position before the election.
Dear WACS BOE, Ms. Sauer and Mr. Holbrook,
It is with deep regret that I must resign my seat on the Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education effective February 29th, 2012. Family obligations and professional opportunities require me to move out of the district before the expiration of my current term. I have thoroughly enjoy my time at WACS and I am grateful for all of the support I have been offered by current and past board member, administration, teachers, support staff and the community at large. I have most enjoyed my interaction with students, watching their tremendous achievements and their personal and educational growth. I know the district is in good hands with a building full of people that truly care about our students. I regret leaving the board with so many difficult decision to be faced. However I know the eight remaining members of this board are thoughtful, dedicated and knowledgeable individuals who will lead the districts through the perils ahead. I wish you all the best of luck and success. I have become a better man for having had the opportunity to live work and volunteer here in Westfield and for that I am forever indebted to this small town and all the amazing people I have encountered along the way. From myself and my family, thank you and best regards.
However Steven Reynolds said he felt people had their reasons for applying last time and may not be interested this time. Board members Mark Winslow, Timothy Smith and Jeffrey Greabell all voiced they were in favor of waiting until the May 15 election and a motion to do just that passed with no opposed votes.
The next debate was when and if to fill the vice presidential void and Bodenmiller saw no reason not to nominate anyone immediately. She nominated Steve Cockram and he was so elected with no opposed votes. Cockram will be sworn in at the board's next meeting on Monday, March 12.
Finally, the possibility of reducing the number of seats on the board was suggested because it is getting hard to get nine qualified district residents to run for the board.
"If it's difficult to get nine people on the board that are qualified I think that's an indicator that maybe we should consider seven," Greabell said.
Cockram pointed out a benefit to having nine board members is in regards to sub committees. With three members in a sub committee, if there are seven board members, the president can step in at a sub committee meeting and it can become an official board meeting. However, Edwards said most school districts across the state consist of seven members.
Ultimately, the decision whether to reduce or not has put to a public vote and, should it pass, it would be another year before the size of the board would start to reduce in a complicated scenario.
"You don't just automatically go from nine to seven," Business Manager and District Clerk Al Holbrook said. "You whittle that down over a couple of years."
A motion to put a reduction in the size of the school board from nine to seven members was approved with Winslow voting against the measure and Bodenmiller not casting a vote either way.
In an update on the superintendent search,
In other business:
Andrea Mansfield was appointed to the supplemental salary schedule for the 2011-12 school year for play seamstress; and
the Senior Citizen Prom fundraiser, sponsored by the Key Club was approved for March 24.