PETERSBURG – The Upper Township Board of Education swore in Michele Barbieri, Kristie Brown-Chisholm, and William Sooy to new three-year terms at its Jan. 9 reorganization meeting. Robert Evans was sworn into the remaining two years of an unexpired term.
Barbieri was selected to serve as school board president once again, with Debbie McLees serving again as vice president. They were the only members nominated for the positions.
A more difficult proposition was finding volunteers to serve as voting representatives on the Ocean City Board of Education. Brown-Chisholm, Bill Holmes, and Fran Newman served in the posts last year, but Brown-Chisholm and Holmes said they had other responsibilities that would prevent them from serving this year. Holmes said he is starting a new business, and Brown-Chisholm said she wants to spend more time with her family.
“It’s a great learning experience. You learn a lot in my opinion, seeing what they’re doing over there and the money we’re sending over there in the works,” Barbieri said to no response.
“I’m not a salesman by any means,” she quickly added.
Holmes said representing Upper Township on the Ocean City school board is a rewarding experience. He said he learned a lot and settled a few disputes in his years there. But it is time consuming, Holmes said. Along with the monthly meetings of the regular boards in Upper Township and Ocean City, which can last two or three hours, committee meetings often go at least an hour, he said.
Brown-Chisholm said curriculum committee meetings that she served on last year started off at an hour but got shorter as the year went on.
Newman said she was willing to serve again, and board member Andrea Olenik-Hipkins said she would volunteer. Sooy said he did not have the time, but would serve as a last resort. Evans said he wanted to get comfortable serving on the Upper Township school board before he joined another board. He was appointed to a vacant school board seat here in July.
“I’d like to get a little bit of experience with this board,” he said. “I want to know how we interact with Ocean City before I’m the one interacting with them.”
Evans said he would be willing to serve as a voting representative next year.
Board member Rachel Mammele said she would be willing to serve but she will be busy over the next few months pursuing licenses to run her family’s real estate business. Holmes said he would be willing to serve for a short time until Mammele is done school. Newman, Olenik-Hipkins, and Holmes were approved for the three slots.