Six seek board of ed. vacancy

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With Frank Murphy’s resignation, applicants seek board term through Dec. 2

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Candidates for the soon to be vacant region C (Pennsbury, Chadds Ford) seat on the Unionville-Chadds Ford Board of Education wait to address the board Monday night to explain why they should be appointed to the board.

By Mike McGann, Editor, the Times
EAST MARLBOROUGH — Six would-be members of the Unionville-Chadds Ford Board of Education made their case Monday night as to why they should be the pick to replace Frank Murphy, who is resigning his Region C seat to run for Chadds Ford Township Supervisor.

Lorraine Ramunno of Pennsbury, John Murphy, also of Pennsbury, Dell Joshi of Chadds Ford, Leticia Flores DeWilde of Pennsbury, Carol Biederman of Pennsbury and Skip Barthold of Chadds Ford all made statements before the board and were asked questions by current board members.

Although there is likely to be some one-on-one follow up questions from current board members to the prospective members, the board will vote next Monday night at its regular meeting which of the six candidates to appoint. The winning candidate must receive five votes to be elected. With Frank Murphy’s resignation taking effect at noon of that day and Jeff Leiser expected to miss the meeting, the new appointee will need a minimum of five of seven votes.

The six are seeking an appointment to fill Frank Murphy’s term through Dec. 2. The seat will be on the November ballot for voters in Pennsbury and Chadds Ford.

All six spoke of a desire to work on behalf of the schools and said they thought they’d be good team players.

But each of the six bring different life experiences — and different experiences as parents in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District.

Biederman spoke of the challenges in parenting a child with health concerns.

“I do think I have a different perspective as the parent of a child who has had a life-threatening sickness,” she said.

She has two children in the district, the oldest will be a freshman at Unionville High School this fall, while the youngest is in 4th grade at Hillendale Elementary School. She currently works as a Social Media Strategist/Blog Writer for Delaware Family Voices and operates a shopping blog called Let’s Get Deals Today.

Joshi, who works as the Chief Information Officer for DuPont Sustainable Solutions, said he has “a passion for education” and would like to see the district have a greater emphasis on “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs, to better prepare students to compete in the global marketplace. He holds an MBA from Penn State as well as a Masters in Chemistry from Georgetown. He has two children, who attend elementary school, in the district.

Because of his busy professional career, he was asked whether he had enough time to serve on the board, and he assured the board that he did.

Flores DeWilde, is currently a stay-at-home mother of two, but previously worked as a senior policy analyst for the American Cancer Society and served as a staff attorney for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

She said as a Latina and a Mexican immigrant, she brings a unique perspective — and appreciation of public schools. When asked what she thought the day-to-day role of a board director was she said she didn’t think there was much of one beyond supporting the superintendent of schools.

Barthold, a stay-at-home dad and professional musician, did have one specific difference with his colleagues: he said he would not run for election if appointed and would only serve through Dec. 2.

He cited his lengthy stints as a parent volunteer when his children attended Chadds Ford Elementary School — although he’s less active now, as his kids are in high school.

He was asked whether if he disagreed with a board decision whether he would support it. He said he would support the decision of the majority of the board.

John Murphy, is no relation to Frank Murphy, but like the outgoing board member, he has an engineering background. A graduate of West Point, he’s worked as a marketing executive since leaving the Army in 1998. He currently has children in elementary, middle and high school. He has also been an active volunteer with the Unionville Recreation Association.

Like many of the other applicants, he moved his family to the district because of the quality of the schools.

When asked about budget issues, he stressed the need to balance maintaining excellence with being accountable to the taxpayers.

Ramunno is an attorney with a practice in Media and serves as the chair of the Legal Education Committee of the Delaware Bar Association. She and her husband currently have three children attending district schools, two in the middle school and one at the high school.

She cited her legal background as being an asset to the district.

Although there were a minimal number of questions asked by board members, there seemed to much agreement that all of the applicants were high quality candidtaes for the position.

“I’m thrilled that one of you will be replacing me,” Frank Murphy said. “I don’t think the board can make a bad decision, no matter who they pick.”

“There’s no question, this is going to be a tough decision,” board president Eileen Bushelow said.

During the June 17 meeting, the board will formally nominate candidates from the six applicants. Those applicants will then be voted on, if no candidates get five votes on the first ballot, the lowest vote getter would drop off for a second ballot and so on, until one candidate gets five votes. That candidate would then be sworn in immediately and participate in the meeting, including final approval of the 2013-14 budget and final ratification of the new teachers contract.

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