February 22, 2012

School Board Looking for Candidates

Two members of the Board of Education, Township resident Mia Cahill and Borough resident Charles Kalmbach, whose terms are up this year, have chosen not to run for reelection in the upcoming April 17 election. A third, Borough resident and School Board President Rebecca Cox, has confirmed that she will run again.

While Board secretary Stephanie Kennedy reported that (as of press time), the Board has not received any applications for either of the open seats, Ms. Cox said that she is “in discussion” with several potential candidates. The “Board Candidate’s Packet,” delineating requirements for board membership and application procedures, is available on the Princeton Regional Schools’ website. The deadline for applying is February 27.

Ms. Cahill, a lawyer, was twice elected to the school board and has served since 2006. Her current committee responsibilities include chairing the strategic action plan committee, and serving on the personnel committee. Mr. Kalmbach, director of continuing education and vice president for strategy at the Princeton Theological Seminary’s School of Christian Vocation and Mission, has served a single term since his election in 2009. Mr. Kalmbach currently chairs the finance committee, and is a member of the external affairs committee and negotiations team.

“It’s been a great privilege to represent my neighbors in the Borough and to work with members of the Board of Education for the last three years,” said Mr. Kalmbach in a recent interview.

In response to a question about why he has chosen not to run again, Mr. Kalmbach went back to his original reason for joining the board, which, he said, was “to address major issues that were looming in the area of finance.” Under his stewardship, the finance committee has helped the Board to come up with balanced budgets in the face of state caps that have limited the district’s ability to raise revenue; large expenditures (e.g., health care, the charter school, and providing for special needs students) over which the district has no control; and a loss of reserves to the state.

“I’ve never in my years of business seen a situation like this,” said Mr. Kalmbach as he enumerated these obstacles. “Coming forward with a balanced budget every year has been an extraordinary accomplishment.”

Mr. Kalmbach also lauded the district for responding to the call for increased transparency. “I’m told that we are one of the half-dozen districts in the state that actually meets (twice a year, in point of fact) with its outside auditor to make sure we are in compliance with state regulations and doing what is right for the community.”

Now that the Board has completed an analysis of the amount of money the charter school receives ($4.5 million) and what they believe it actually would cost to educate its students ($1.35 million), Mr. Kalmbach suggested that his successor look at “what the charter school is giving back to the town in return for its investment.” The April 17 election will be the last time that Board members representing the Township and the Borough will run. After January, 2013, individuals will be elected by the residents of the consolidated municipality.

Other current members of the Board of Education include Vice President Tim Quinn, a Borough resident whose term expires in 2013; Township resident Dorothy Bedford, whose term also ends in 2013; Afsheen Shamsi, a Township resident whose term expires in 2014; Township resident Molly Chrein, whose term will be up in 2013; Dan Haughton, a Township resident whose term expires in 2014, and Borough resident Andrea Spalla, whose term will be up in 2013.