SOMERS POINT — As the Board of Education prepares for its annual reorganization Thursday, Jan. 4 members have more on their plate than swearing in the newly elected members — newcomer Joshua Palombo and board veterans Michael Sweeder and John Conover.
Board members Wes Kazmarck and his wife, Darcy Brown, tendered their resignations to Superintendent Tom Baruffi and fellow board members, effective Jan. 1.
Kazmarck and Brown are moving from Somers Point to Ocean City, where they operate four businesses on the boardwalk.
Kazmarck is the president of the Ocean City Boardwalk Merchants Association. Brown is a teacher at Egg Harbor Township High School.
Somers Point is a Type II School District, and according to Baruffi it is required to have nine members on the Board of Education. It has 65 days to fill the vacancies.
He said he assumes the board will seek interested candidates and appoint two of them as members, although that procedure is not required by law.
Baruffi said that while he has never had two members leave at the same time, and that you never want to lose good board members, boards of education do turn over after an election.
“I believe we have to look at their resignations the same as we would if they were up for a vote and not re-elected,” he said.
Kazmarck said resigning from the board and taking their children out of the school district has been one of the most difficult decisions he and his wife have had to make.
He said they were not ready to move; they were looking for an investment property in Ocean City, stumbled upon a home they could envision for their family, and decided to take the leap.
“We considered every scenario. If we waited until our terms were up, we would be moving our daughter in her eighth-grade year, which was less than ideal,” he said.
“We had settled on leaving over the summer of 2018 but reconsidered when we realized our new superintendent would just be taking his/her position and need to focus on the needs of our staff and students,” he continued. “It quickly became evident that January would be the most ‘ideal’ time if there was one.”
Both Kazmarck and Brown had just finished the first year of a three-year term. Both were elected in November 2016, Kazmarck to his second term and Brown to her first. Kazmarck served one year as vice president and was president in 2017.
“Darcy and I have always felt that serving Somers Point Schools, in various capacities over the years, was our obligation to our community," he said.
"Everyone needs to contribute. If you'd like to know what I am genuinely proud of, it's our classroom party planning skills, the relationships we cultivated with the staff and the example we have set for the students to be activate participants.
"If only people knew how talented, charismatic and creative our students are in Somers Point. We have watched these children grow and are confident their future is bright,” Kazmarck said.
He said he hopes any resident with a genuine interest in the schools will consider the opportunity to serve and throw their hat in for consideration for one of the open seats.
Kazmarck sent a letter to fellow board members informing them of the decision to step down over the holidays and drafted a letter to the staff at Jordan Road School, where their children, Piper and Liam, attend sixth and third grade, respectively. He said the family said some very difficult goodbyes to teachers and staff members Tuesday at school. The children will begin school in Ocean City Jan. 3.
School board Vice President Todd Fath will act as the head of the board for now, and the president's position will remain open until the board is a full nine-member body and will vote for a president, according to Baruffi.