No one will be appointed to fill the Rumson Board of Education vacancy left by Colleen Hodge until the Sept. 27 meeting. But three candidates for the temporary appointment were interviewed at a special meeting Tuesday night.
The interviews, board President Colleen O’Connor said at the meeting, were conducted in the Women’s League of Voters’ fashion, with all candidates seated at a conference table, facing the board, and taking turns to answer each question fielded by O’Connor in the public forum. About five members of the public were in attendance.
The applicants for the seat on the dais, which will be filled by one until January, 2013, are: Russell Binns, of 26 Lincoln Ave., a patent attorney and former computer engineer; Taryn Iwan, of 53 Bingham Ave., who has a finance and educator background; and Maura Beyer, of 24 Highland Ave., who has been active in the PTA.
All three have children in the Rumson district.
O’Connor prefaced the interviewing process commenting on the rigors of the position. She said that while the board only meets once a month, there are several committees on which board members sit. Those committees have several meetings, each spanning several hours.
The three were also reminded that whoever is not appointed is welcome — as is any Rumson resident meeting the candidacy requirements in the voting public — to file a petition to run to fill the two remaining years in Hodge’s second three-year term. Whoever is appointed to the seat must also run in November, if they choose, to fill the remainder of Hodge’s unexpired term.
Binns said he had already filed his petition to do so and saw the appointment as a good introduction to the job.
All candidates said they found the district to be exemplary and that doing the job on the board was more a matter of maintaining that level of excellence and listening and taking heed to parents’ and students’ issues as they arise.
Binns likened the maintenance issue to that of the upkeep of a classic sports car — a Ferrari, “a great, top-of-the-line car that runs well, but has to be carefully maintained.”
Binns added that his work in a law firm, “setting corporate policies” would serve as an experience attribute to the board in setting, defining and managing board policies. In addition, he said he “moved around a lot as a kid in New Jersey, so I attended a lot of different schools … I think I can bring a lot of different perspectives from that” to the board … “running policy, maintaining policy and having the school system run as well as it can.”
Taryn Iwan reflected, when asked, on her own experience with the Rumson school district. “So far, I’ve been very, very impressed,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of structure, a lot of room for creativity in terms of the classroom … out of everyone I speak to in terms of having a choice between Rumson Country Day, Holy Cross and Deane Porter, the majority of people I know from pre-school at Holy Cross have decided to come to Deane Porter, because it’s so strong.”
She added that elementary and middle school is a very critical time in the educational process and the Rumson schools foster positive growth.
“The area has the best public schools in the state,” Binns said. “(They are) why people move to Rumson.
Maura Beyer called her experiences in the district great. When asked how she would handle parents with complaints, Beyer summed it up similarly to the way the others did, saying, “I would listen. I would also remind them of how lucky they are” to have their children in the district and work with them on compromise and healthy communication.
The board will announce its new member, out of the three, at the Sept. 27 meeting, when the newest member will also be sworn in and take his or her seat at the dais, Board Administrator Denise Friedmann said.