Oysterponds board weighs future of vacant seat

10/15/2014 3:00 PM |
Oysterponds Superintendent Richard Malone and school board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas at Tuesday night's school board meeting. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Oysterponds Superintendent Richard Malone and school board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas at Tuesday night’s school board meeting. (Credit: Paul Squire)

The Oysterponds school board will have to fill the vacant seat left by former board member Alison Lyne’s resignation next May.

But what happens to the seat after Ms. Lyne’s term expires in 2016 is up for debate. 

During Tuesday night’s meeting, the six-person school board discussed adding a proposition to this school year’s May 2015 budget vote that would reduce the size of the board permanently from seven members to six. Under that plan, someone would still be elected to fill Ms. Lyne’s seat in May during the normal election, but the seat would be abolished after the remaining term expires in May 2016.

“I think six here is working great,” said board member Linda Goldsmith.

Though board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas brought up the possibility of tie votes, Ms. Goldsmith noted that in her decades on the board, having an even number of board members was “never an issue.” In the event of a tie, the board president would cast the deciding vote.

While Ms. Thomas said she felt a seven-member board worked well, she expressed concern over having potentially three new board members each election cycle, as has been the case. She said that amount of turnover is “too disruptive.”

• An independent audit of the Oysterponds School District came back clean, according to a brief presentation made by the auditor Tuesday night.

Joe Mammina of Markowitz, Fenelon & Bank said the auditors returned an “unqualified opinion” on the district’s finances for 2013-14, meaning its finances are sound.

He noted that the district still had a fund balance over the recommended 4 percent set by the state. In April, state auditors took issue with the amount of money in the general fund, saying it was “excessive.” In the recent independent audit, however, Mr. Mammina said the district was beginning several capital works projects that would address that concern.

“That’ll help bring [the fund balance] down so you guys are in compliance,” Mr. Mammina said.

After the presentation, the Oysterponds school board voted to approve the findings of the auditors. The board also approved the hiring of a previously laid-off teacher and a tweak to the district’s teacher contract to change the hours slightly for a pre-K and kindergarten teacher.

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