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Williamsburg school board fails to vote in new member

WILLIAMSBURG — The Williamsburg Community School Board accepted the resignation of board member Janet Lee Tuesday night, but after interviewing several candidates for the open position, failed to seat a new member.

Lee had served on the board since 1999 and resigned for personal reasons, according to business manager Kalie Zabrosky.

The board interviewed three candidates from the borough — Austin McMonagle, Cheyenne Williams and Jenny O, then cast votes via ballot.

The candidates were asked why they sought a position on the board, what they could bring to the board and what qualities make a good board member.

McMonagle cited his experience as a student and coach in the district as reasons why he’d be a good person for the job. Williams said she wants the position so she can serve the student body.

In the initial vote, O received just one vote and was eliminated.

Board members again cast ballots to decide between McMonagle and Williams, but that vote resulted in a 4-4 tie.

Board member Benjamin Postles then made a motion to appoint McMonagle, but the board remained divided 4-4.

Since she voted no to appoint McMonagle, Jill Norris then made a motion to appoint Williams, which spurred yet another roll call vote, but the board was again split.

During the voting process, candidates McMonagle and Williams were asked about their stance on masking in schools to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Board member Adam Hileman asked McMonagle what he thought about mask mandates with McMonagle replying that mask mandates are “kind of garbage.”

“I don’t agree with it,” McMonagle said of masking mandates. “I would consider some other things, and I personally don’t think it was necessary.”

Asked the same question, Williams said, “It’s every individual’s decision, but I don’t find it right.”

Williams said whether a child should wear a mask is a decision for parents to make.

Lee’s resignation is effective Jan. 5, so, by rule, the board has 30 days from that date to appoint a new member. If it is unable to do so, the decision will be in the hands of the Blair County Court of Common Pleas.

The board’s next meeting is slated for Feb. 15, well past the 30-day deadline, so the board will need to schedule a special meeting to take up the matter before it is turned over to the court.

After the meeting wrapped up, Superintendent Lisa Murgas said the decision on a special meeting is “to be determined.”

Board President Barry England said he was frustrated with the gridlock on the vote.

“I don’t think we should be taking this to the courthouse,” England said. “That would be a big, big mistake.”

Murgas said the board’s inability to fill the seat was “unfortunate.”

“It’s always best, I believe, to keep that as local control,” Murgas said.

“It’s unfortunate that didn’t happen, but that’s part of the process,” Murgas said. “We will move on to the next step in filling that seat.”

Mirror Staff Writer Andrew Mollenauer is at 814-946-7428.

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