BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Last May, Timothy Salmon applied to fill a vacancy on the Bernards Township Board of Education. He had little idea of the pressing initiatives and issues, and wasn’t chosen.
On Monday night, he tried again, putting forth his name as a candidate to fill the most current vacancy. This time, he was selected by school board members from more than 20 applicants for the one-year position.
Salmon succeeds Rhonda Dunten, who announced her resignation Dec. 18 after two years on the board. She said she was moving out of the district.
Salmon told the board at Monday's meeting he was glad his application forced him to attend his first board meeting last year. He got to see and hear other candidates and it prompted him to start following school meetings in person and online, he said.
“It may be an understatement to say my ambition got the best of me,” he said of the first application. He said he threw his hat into the ring this time “from a humbled and more informed head.”
Eleven applicants spoke about their desire to serve at Monday's meeting
A total of 11 people spoke to the board about their desire to serve. In addition to Salmon, they were Lauren Beckman, Staci Beyer, Heather Brady, Leonard Caruso, Ruchika Hira, Helen Lee, James Nolt, M. Ala Saadeghvaziri, Suzanne Schafer Skalski, David Shaw and Santosh Subramanian. Helen Lee was invited, but couldn’t attend Monday.
They were asked to address their background and qualifications, their perception of the role of a board member, day and evening availability, long-term vision and biggest challenges they saw for the board.
Salmon will serve the rest of this year. He has the option of filing, before July 30, to complete the remaining one year on the term, to run for a three-year term, or to not seek more time.
Salmon said he and his wife, Maryanne, have lived in Bellerose Village area of the township since 2012. They have 8-year-old twins in the second grade at Oak Street School, and a 4-year-old pre-schooler.
In town, he’s coached baseball, basketball and lacrosse, taught Sunday School, and is the treasurer of his neighborhood homeowner’s association.
By occupation, Salmon is a patent attorney and runs his own consulting firm, based in Parsippany. That gives him flexibility in his schedule, he said.
In his remarks, Salmon said he believed the school board should be transparent in its decision making and visibility, and to let parents know what infrastructure is built to support students’ education.
“A school system that provides support, safety and encouragement inspires confidence and success,” he said.
Promote STEM education at early age
He said he’d like the school to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education at an early age, to encourage involvement in extracurricular activities and to have lessons to encourage public speaking. He saw the confidence it inspired in his son and daughter at Oak Street School, he said.
More than 20 people expressed interest and picked up application packets, Board President Robin McKeon said.