The Brick Township Board of Education met Monday night to interview candidates who expressed interest in filling the board seat vacated by Missy Parker, who announced over the summer that she would resign to follow professional opportunities in Georgia.
The board interviewed seven candidates in public, ultimately settling on a PTA organization volunteer who has been a previous ally of the board on social media and helped advocate in favor of a $12.5 million school security referendum effort that was narrowly turned down by voters in 2018.
Allison Kennedy, 45, was unanimously chosen by the board to fill Parker’s seat for the remainder of her term, which will last through Dec. 31, 2023. She, as well as the other candidates, answered a few brief questions posed by Board President Stephanie Wohlrab on their interest in becoming a member of the board, what they view as challenges and success stories within the district, and gave each the opportunity to read a personal statement.
“I have worked in the business world, so I understand a little bit of the business end of it,” Kennedy said. “I currently work in another school district so I do know the inner workings of the schools and the buildings, how that works. I come from a family of teachers, many of my friends are teachers, and I understand it as a parent, a taxpayer, a business person.”
On challenges, Kennedy replied that state funding cuts mandated by the state’s ‘S-2’ legislation is the prime challenge the district is facing, calling the cuts a “steep cliff.”
She also addressed the more heated nature of school board meetings in recent times.
“I think that another one of our challenges is people from within the town that don’t necessarily come and inform themselves of all of the things that are happening, and then get upset at what’s going on,” she said. “So I feel like that is a challenge for us, because they feel like the communication isn’t there. But since I attend all of the board meetings, I know the communication is there, and that the board is transparent with things and that the administration is transparent with things. The information is there to be aware of if you choose to be aware.”
A success story, she said, was the arrival of Superintendent Thomas Farrell, who is widely praised for bringing a sense of continuity to the district since being hired in 2020 following years of a revolving door of chief school administrators.
“One of our greatest accomplishments, I think, has been with the stability of Dr. Farrell and his leadership team,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said she “doesn’t believe that politics have any place in a Board of Education.”
She did, however, say she recruited other residents and manned a phone bank that promoted a 2020 referendum effort that would have appropriated $12.5 million for various school security improvements. The referendum did not succeed, being turned by a margin of 39 votes.
The other candidates who applied for the seat included Michelle Grady, Anne Marie Philips, Justin Delaney, Michael Williams, Walt Campbell, Maria Whelan and Mary Lou Powner.
Wohlrab said Kennedy would be sworn in to the seat at the board’s next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 18 and 7 p.m.