CAMPBELL School board chooses a new member

The new member is scheduled to be sworn in Dec. 18.
CAMPBELL -- About 35 people gathered in the Memorial High School library for a special board of education meeting Monday night to see who would be chosen from six candidates to fill a vacant board seat.
After about 45 minutes of interviews and 15 minutes of private discussion, the board chose Beth Donofrio, a medical assistant with three children, by a 3-1 vote. Carmel Gerlick dissented.
Karen Penwell -- one of the unsuccessful bidders for the vacancy, who also ran for election in November -- said she heard rumors for the past three weeks that Donofrio was assured the seat.
"If she doesn't get it, it will be an absolute surprise," said Penwell a few minutes before the nominations took place.
Penwell contends the board voted for Donofrio because she was Superintendent James Ciccolelli's favorite candidate.
Superintendent's response: "I heard it was going to be someone else to be honest with you," said Ciccolelli, who mentioned that similar rumors have come up before. "I'm ready, willing and able to work with anyone."
Board member Daniel Rohan nominated Donofrio, while Gerlick nominated William Lawson, the self-proclaimed founder of the Concerned Citizens for Campbell group.
Rohan said he hadn't heard any rumors regarding Donofrio and said Ciccolelli never offered his opinion on any candidates. Instead, Rohan said he based his decision on Donofrio's answers to questions and her involvement as treasurer with the Campbell Academic Association, a group involved in a previous bond issue to raise funds for new schools.
Candidates were asked five questions during an open forum, one from each board member and one general question.
Despite the rumors, Donofrio said she has no relatives employed by the school district or any previous ties to the board.
She said she didn't run in the November election because she didn't want to pull votes from other candidates.
Others in running: Others seeking the seat Monday were Michael Berry, Ted Perantinides and Stan Tofil.
Board president Walter Rusnak said Tony Vavlas applied, then withdrew his bid.
A seat opened on the board Nov. 19 with the resignation of Ted Cougras, who moved to another town. Donofrio is to be sworn in by the board treasurer at the Dec. 18 regular meeting.

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