BRICK – Members of the Brick Township Board of Education gathered to interview candidates who would fill the current open seat on the board.
Over the summer, board member Missy Parker stepped down from her position. Parker, who was elected to the board in 2020, said in a letter that she was resigning because her and her family were moving to Georgia.
At the August 16 meeting, Board President Stephanie Wohlrab announced that the vacant seat will be filled by a vote of the remaining Board of Education members. Additionally, this seat will not be available in the upcoming election this fall. It instead will be filled for the remainder of the next year.
During a public special meeting, board members interviewed seven candidates and at the end, they ultimately chose Allison Kennedy. She will fill the open seat for the remainder of Parker’s term which goes until December 31, 2023.
Kennedy is a PTA volunteer and through social media has previously shown her support to the board. In the past, she advocated for a $12.5 million school security referendum. However, the initiative did not pass.
At the meeting, Wohlrab asked the candidates some brief questions such as why they wanted to become a board member, what they view as challenges and success stories within the district. Additionally, each candidate was given the chance to read a personal statement.
“I have worked in the business world, so I understand a little bit of the business end of it. I currently work in another school district so I do know the inner workings of the schools and the buildings, how that works. I come from a family of teachers, many of my friends are teachers, and I understand it as a parent, a taxpayer, a business person,” Kennedy said.
When Kennedy was asked about what is the district’s greatest challenges, she believes that the biggest challenge at the moment is the state funding cuts mandated by the state’s ‘S-2’ legislation.
This is a change in the way the state provides aid to the schools. Many local districts, including Brick, lost millions of dollars in funding.
“I think that another one of our challenges is people from within the town that don’t necessarily come and inform themselves of all of the things that are happening, and then get upset at what’s going on. I feel like that is a challenge for us, because they feel like the communication isn’t there,” Kennedy said.
“Since I attend all of the board meetings, I know the communication is there, and that the board is transparent with things and that the administration is transparent with things. The information is there to be aware of if you choose to be aware,” she added.
A significant strength Kennedy stated about the district is the stability of Superintendent Thomas Farrell, who was hired in 2020, and his leadership team.
“I don’t believe that politics have any place in a Board of Education,” Kennedy said. “This is a committee of taxpayers, a committee of parents that are looking out for the best interest of the children.”
In addition to Kennedy, the other candidates who applied for the seat included Justin Delaney, Michelle Grady, Anne Marie Philips, Michael Williams, Walt Campbell, Maria Whelan and Mary Lou Powner.
After a unanimous vote, Kennedy was chosen for the open seat. Wohlrab said Kennedy will be sworn in at the board’s next meeting which is set for October 18.