For more than eight years the West Morris Regional Board of Education has had one constant – its members from Chester Township and Mendham Borough.
Jacke Schram of Mendham and James Johnston of Chester Township spent their final night on the school board Monday night in front of a crowd of more than 50 teachers and community members.
Johnston has served on the board since April 2001 and chose not to run for re-election in 2013 for another three-year term. He is being succeeded by Gary Lakritz, who beat out Bruce Sullivan and Russ Cembrinski in the November election. Johnston is the current board president and has held just about every position possible during his 12-year tenure.
Schram, who was appointed to the board in July 2005, lost in this year’s election to board member-elect Brian Cavanaugh. Schram served in a number of capacities during her time on the board, including vice president, finance committee chairperson, and a member of the policy committee, among others.
Both board members received rousing applause from the audience and colleagues after being honored with proclamations for their respective times of service.
Before the meeting could end, Schram read a statement to the room, saying she felt politics had worked its way into the board – an educational venue – and there was no room for it.
“Politics has come to this board. And it doesn’t belong here. Politics runs counter to the board’s mission to see that the district is well run and that the existing students receive the best education possible. Some people are seeking a path to dissolution of the district. This board cannot accomplish that. Working to support dissolution from inside the board as a board member is disingenuous,” she said.
“It is an insult to the existing students who seek their education in our high schools now. It is an insult to the staff who work everyday to provide and support the education of those students,” Schram continued. “This board owes to all of them and the communities that support this district to provide that education now and in the future. If dissolution is your game plan, pursue that outside of the board arena. Do not sacrifice the educational welfare of the district for a political agenda.”
A lengthy round of applause erupted from the crowd once Schram completed her statement. The meeting moved along at a quicker-than-normal pace, and was followed by a celebratory dessert for the leaving pair.
Lakritz and Cavanaugh will be sworn into their seats at the board’s reorganization meeting in January.