The mid-November Council Rock School Board meeting marked the final meeting of the Republican-controlled school board.
Newly elected Democratic school board candidates recently flipped the district from red to blue during the 2023 municipal elections.
Among the defeated Republicans was school board president Ed Salamon, who was narrowly bested by Democrat Linda Stone. Dr. Stephen Nowmos, who was appointed to replace former board member Kristin Marcell, also lost his bid to remain on the board. He will be replaced by Democrat Nicole Khan.
Dr. Michael Thorwart, a Republican, and Mariann McKee, a Democrat, both chose not to run for reelection and Republican Anne Horner and Democrat Tracey Osecki were elected to replace them. Additionally, Democrat Ed Tate and Republican Joseph Hidalgo were reelected and will remain on the board.
A common theme throughout the brief meeting was thanks and praise for the outgoing school board members who all besides Nowmos served multiple years on the board.
Echoing that sentiment, Superintendent Dr. Andrew Sanko spoke highly of the board members, thanking them for their service.
“Each of these individuals has given much more to Council Rock than most will ever know, being a school board member is a time and energy commitment that knows no schedule, but is always ready to support students,” Sanko said.
“In a few weeks, we will welcome several new members to the school board and continue Council Rock’s responsibility to deliver educational excellence to our students, but your service will always be part of the story of the Council Rock School District.”
Newly reelected school board director Ed Tate personally thanked McKee for her service on the board.
“Over the past nearly 8 years, I’ve had the great pleasure to work with some amazingly smart and dedicated school board members, but none of them were superior to Mariann McKee,” Tate said.
He added, “Those of you who have attended or participated in our meetings over the past few years have seen Mariann in action and know that she is extremely knowledgeable, confident, and passionate. Her voice of experience as a former teacher was absolutely invaluable to the board.”
He continued, “Mariann provided a great deal of wisdom and even-tempered guidance to the board. She always placed a premium on collegiality and respect and she responded admirably in challenging situations. She’s just a tremendous person and I want to wish her the best in the years ahead.”
School board director Bob Hickey also took time to recognize each of the outgoing members.
“It feels like a rare occasion when this will be the last meeting of almost half of this board. To Dr. Nowmos, I did not get to work with you for very long but I’d like to thank you for stepping up when there was a void to be filled,” Hickey said.
“To Ms. McKee, outside of Council Rock, my guess is that we would disagree on many things. However, inside Council Rock, I would like to believe that we achieved common ground. I would like to believe we worked well together and we accomplished much.”
Hickey added, “I respect you, your straightforwardness, and your honesty. Hopefully, I earned your respect as well. When I see you in the future, I know I can seek you out and share a friendly conversation. I will miss my next-door neighbor at committee meetings. Thank you and I wish you well.”
“To Dr. Thorwart and Mr. Salamon, you were board leadership when I arrived. And although I am older than you, it was you who taught me the ropes along with Kristin. You helped me become a better school board director. There is so much more to this job than meets the eye. For that I thank you,” he said.
“You both have constantly stressed for every decision I make, ‘How does this help kids?’ Please remind me if I ever fail in this regard, I don’t know what the future holds for you but you should be proud of the work you have done for this district. I’m lucky to now be able to call you friends.”
The board will hold a reorganization meeting on December 7 where the newly elected 5-4 Democratic majority will take effect.
The board will be made up of Democrats Stone, Khan, Osecki, Tate, and Yota Palli. Joining them will be Republicans Horner, Hidalgo, Hickey, and Michael Roosevelt.