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HARRISON – At a special Feb. 3 meeting, the Harrison Community Schools Board of Education found itself in the desirable yet difficult position of having to choose from among three highly motivated and highly capable applicants. The three candidates interviewed that evening to fill the vacancy to be created by the resignation of board trustee George Gallo Jr. which will be effective Feb. 10.
As was done in September when the board interviewed to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of board trustee Jackie Woolston, identical questions were posed which sought to inform the board of the candidates’ strengths, intentions, applicable skills and their take on what/where education is, should be and could be.
The candidates included Marcia Haley, who has an extensive background in education; James Neff, who has been involved in the community for many years, including a deep investment in local youth baseball; and Courtney McCrimmon, who also has an education background as well as being employed with a high-profile utility company.
All three described their experiences in education, their philosophies on the elements of education which are working or need specific attention, and how they relate to HCS District on a personal level.
To a person, the candidates illustrated deep commitment to what they believe children/students need, in varying circumstances, and the school’s obligation to address those needs with the goal of assuring access to students’ successful futures.
After the three interviews were complete, the candidates all opted to remain out of the board room while board members discussed all they had heard and tried to winnow three exceptional candidates down to one new trustee.
Board secretary Therese Haley spoke first, saying they were all good candidates, with strong points and all had impressive letters of recommendation.
“I think they’re all excellent,” she said, adding that she would be willing to follow the group consensus.
Much as it is difficult to make a choice from a dessert cart which contains all one’s favorites, the board struggled with finding any true drawbacks among the interviewees. They also spoke of having had some original leanings, but had their position shifted upon hearing the interviews.
Two candidates were nominated, which resulted in further discussion. Ultimately, it was Haley’s original statement that she would join with the majority’s preference that sealed the vote. And, as is board custom, the remaining nominator joined the rest of the board, creating a unanimous vote for the new member.
Board president Angie Cullen voiced concern regarding vote abstentions which, when combined with possible board member absences, could stifle the ability of the board to reach a majority vote. Yet, on the heels of that, she also echoed the fact that all candidates were well qualified. She did, however, also emphasize the exceptional interview performance of McCrimmon.
“I think she is one of the best people we’ve ever interviewed,” Cullen said.
“I think she knocked the interview out of the park,” said trustee Kendra Durga.
That sentiment found obvious harmony with the other board members, and Roger Peterson made the motion to recommend to the full board that Courtney McCrimmon be placed on the board of education, which was met with a unanimous vote. Then the candidates were called back into the room to hear the board’s decision.
“If I could, I would fill a spot for every one of you,” Cullen said. “It was a very difficult decision for all of us.”
Thus, trustee Courtney McCrimmon will join the board for her first meeting Monday, Feb. 10 for what promises to be a full and rewarding session. Superintendent Rick Foote informed the Cleaver that HCS music students will be recognized for their accomplishments at that meeting, and that the foreign exchange students will make their annual visit to the board, as well.
It also was noted at the meeting that McCrimmon’s seat will be on the ballot in November, as will those of Durga, Cullen, and Chad Hathcock.
The Harrison Community Schools Board of Education meets at 5:30 p.m. the second Monday of the month in the HCS Board Room at 224 W. Main St.