Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda Board of Education is exploring whether it will replace outgoing member Donna Braun, who was elected to the city council Nov. 5, though a final decision will likely not be rendered until December.
Braun, a Republican who edged out Lisa Spencer for a two-year term representing the Second Ward, will leave the board to join the council on Jan. 1. But Braun’s first three-year term on the school board isn’t set to end until July.
School Board President Kevin LoCicero said discussions are ongoing among members as to whether the body will appoint an individual to replace Braun or leave it vacant until May when elections open up Braun’s seat for a new three-year term.
“We’re discussing that,” he said. “But we need more clarification on the law.”
But as district leaders seek legal advice, LoCicero said one option is to replace Braun with a candidate who lost the election in May 2013 to incumbents Colleen Osborn and Art Pappas.
Randy Brandt would have been first on that list, reigning in 681 votes, though he is now disqualified after winning an uncontested election for the Niagara County Legislature in early November. Robert Shmigel pulled in 587 votes for the school board, and Susanne William 423.
John Tylec, the district’s director of personnel, said the district has also sought legal advice on various options, one of which includes leaving the seat vacant until May elections. Another would involve holding a special election, though the expense is a question.
“If a seat become vacant the board can, by majority, vote to place anybody the majority would like and can slot,” he said. “That person would serve in that slot until the results of the next election. But they could call for a special election prior to then. The board can also leave the seat vacant.”
While Braun has expressed interest in finishing her term on the school board while also holding a seat on the council, district bylaws prohibit the maneuver.
“It states in the school law book that you can’t take an oath for another office,” said Superintendent Greg Woytila.
LoCicero, meanwhile, said a consensus among board members has yet to be reached, though a conclusion will come to fruition by the end of the year. He added that leaving Braun’s seat unfilled could take away a deciding vote.
“I would love for her to finish her term out,” he said. “Right now there’s several options. We could also not fill it, which leaves six of us on the boar, which is an even split.”
Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.