The Frontier School Board, which is split 3-3 on many issues, decided Tuesday night to appoint a seventh member instead of having a special election.
Several board members said they did not want to spend money on a special election, but with the specter of being deadlocked on an appointment, board member Patrick Boyle and Vice President Davis Podkulski did not rule it out if the board can’t agree on an appointment. And board member Larry Albert said a special election would be transparent.
“I don’t want to go through the expense, but to be perfectly transparent, honest and fair, that is the way we should be filling this seat,” Albert said. “I’m not advocating for it, but that’s transparency.”
The board was thrown into the possibility of tied votes with the resignation of board member Tom Best Jr., who began serving on the Town Board Jan. 1. He stayed on the School Board until its reorganization meeting earlier this month.
Board member Martin Lalka pushed Tuesday night for the board to pick someone who would serve until the end of the school year, June 30, and would not run in the May election. He said former board members and administrators could be tapped to fill the vacancy.
The last time there was an open seat, the board put out the call for interested candidates, and got 15 replies. A subcommittee whittled the names down to four, and the board picked David Patton in 2014. He ran for and won election the following May.
Lalka said he was on the committee looking over the resumes, and it was a “dog and pony show,” and most candidates did not run in the election.
“I don’t like it. I’d rather just appoint someone,” Lalka said. “What we did with Dave – he’s a great board member. The other 15 – where were they when it was time to pick up a petition? They didn’t come back.”
Albert said the board appointing someone without seeking interested candidates eliminates people who might have an interest.
“The board just selecting a few people is certainly not being transparent,” he said.
President Janet MacGregor Plarr suggested using the same process and time line as the board used in 2014. Using the 2014 search as a guide, resumes and letters of interest would be due in about a week and a half, and the board would appoint someone about two weeks after that.
The board will put a notice on its website with the deadlines.
Still to be determined is whether interviews with the candidates will take place during the public portion of a meeting.
“Even if we appoint someone we know, because there has to be four of us that support this candidate, we have to have some sort of process,” Podkulski said.
If the board does not appoint a new member or have a special election, it is possible the Erie 1 BOCES superintendent could appoint a new member, Plarr said.