Riverhead Police Officer Byron Perez and Flanders Riverside Northampton Community Association president Ron Fisher will be sworn in tonight as trustees of the Riverhead Central School District.
Perez and Fisher, who will fill the vacancies created by the resignations of Amelia Lantz and Ann Cotten-Degrasse in June, were chosen from 12 applicants for the position, Riverhead school board president Greg Meyer said in an interview.
“We had some great candidates,” Meyer said. “I don’t think anybody was really expecting such a large number of people to apply.” Among the applicants were the two candidates who ran and lost in the May school board election, Yolanda Thompson and Greg Fischer.
Each of the five remaining board members reviewed the applications and ranked them, Meyer said. The rankings were sent to the district clerk, who tallied the scores. Every board member had either Perez or Fisher — or both — as their top two choices, he said.
The appointments are just until the upcoming school board election in May. If the newly appointed members want to stay on the board, they will have to seek election at that time. There will be three seats open on the board next year.
“Personally I knew a little bit about both of them already from what they’ve done in the community,” Meyer said. “The possibility of their taking their dedication and passion and now bringing it to the school — it was just a home run,” he said.
The board president said he was glad to have representation of the Flanders/Riverside communities on the board again, something the board has lacked since 2010, when Flanders resident Chrissy Prete served on the board. She lost her re-election bid that year.
He said he’s also excited about the addition of Perez, “a Riverhead police officer with a Latino background and the child of immigrants,” who has been so involved with children in the district in Riverhead CAP and an informal soccer program he started. Perez is a Riverhead native who grew up in Wading River and went through Riverhead public schools.
“We lucked out,” Meyer said. “I think everybody would, I hope, feel the same way.”
Fisher stepped aside as president of FRNCA at last night’s meeting, announcing to the group that he was being appointed to the school board tonight.
“I’m excited to serve a community that hasn’t had representation on the school board in almost a decade,” Fisher said. “I am excited to get started.”
Fisher’s appointment also brings with it representation of the LGBTQ community, perhaps for the first time in the district. Fisher, who has long been out and is married to James Christensen, said he believes that’s important.
Fisher will also be the only entrepreneur on the current school board. He owns Fisher Signs and Shirts in Southampton.
Perez could not immediately be reached for comment.
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