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Norwood-Norfolk board members look at options for filling vacant seat

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NORFOLK - Just call it the seat that nobody wanted.

A vacant seat on the Norwood-Norfolk Board of Education remains unfilled after the top three write-in candidates turned it down.

Three seats had been up for election in May’s budget vote, but only two incumbents - Thomas W. Scott and George D. Fulk - turned in petitions for another three-year term. The third seat had been held by Lisa Levison, who was appointed to a one-year term last year to fill out a vacancy created by the resignation of Jane Peacock.

Ms. Levison opted not to seek a full three-year term in May, but had the highest number of write-in votes among the 13 write-in candidates with 22.

Other district residents receiving multiple votes were Pam Levendusky, 6, and Kate Mikel, 2.

Marty Manley, Frank Hess, Helen B., Jason Esner, David Wells, William Jackson, Jane Mott, Joe Liotta, Nickles Lamanouha and David Flint, the current board president, each received one vote.

Superintendent Elizabeth A. Kirnie said she had contacted the top three write-in candidates to find out if they were interested in being appointed to the position, but all declined.

“Since the third highest vote-getter declined, now the seat is vacant. It’s really up to the board now,” she said.

While one of their options was to hold a special election to fill the seat, board members said they would rather not go that route, in part because of the cost associated with it. Mrs. Kirnie said any potential candidates would need to turn in a petition, they would need to publish a legal notice about the special election four times, and there was also the cost of the election itself.

“It would be costly,” Mr. Scott said.

Board members instead said they would like some time to see if they can find someone willing to serve on the board. A board appointment would be for one year.

“I don’t think we should rush (in filling the seat). If it’s a one-year appointment, let’s take our time,” Stephanie Allen said.

Vice President Jon Hazen wondered if they were facing any kind of a time limit in filling the seat?

“Does this position have to be filled by the reorganizational meeting (in July)? Are we up against a deadline of having the seat fulled by July?” he wondered. “Is there anything to say we couldn’t operate as an eight-person board while we tried to ferret out a serious candidate or two?”

“We don’t have a vacancy until July,” Mr. Flint said.

Mrs. Kirnie said she would need to check with the district’s attorney to see if there was a deadline.

Mr. Hazen suggested that board members spend the next two to three weeks “sort of really racking our brains to see if we can come up with two or three people” who might be willing to serve.

The only drawback to not appointing a person now was the learning curve, Mr. Scott said.

“The bad thing is, it takes five or six meetings before you really know what’s going on,” he said.

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