The Appoquinimink school board has a new president and vice president for the first time since 2011.

The Appoquinimink school board has a new president and vice president for the first time since 2011.

Norm Abrams was unanimously elected the new president of the five-member board Tuesday, while Richard Forsten was unanimously elected vice president.

“I want to help get this district back into financial health,” said Abrams, who served as the board’s vice president for the last 12 months. “My goal is to make sure we’re on solid footing moving forward. I think that’s what the people need to see.
Abrams, who just began the final year of his first five-year term, is the second most tenured school board member behind Julie Johnson, who was first elected to the office in 2008 in a four-way race that also includes Abrams.

Johnson served as the school board president for the last two years.

“I think it’s good to give other people an opportunity, and in the past we’ve taken turns based on seniority,” Johnson said of her decision not to seek a third year as board president. “I’ve enjoyed being president but it’s hard sometimes to engage in the discussion when you’re running the meetings.”

A resident of Townsend, Abrams became actively involved in the district as a volunteer after moving to the area 17 years ago.

“I saw the struggle our teachers face and I decided to run for the school board because I wanted to help them,” said Abrams, a power system controller for Delmarva Power. “I’m excited to continue helping to improve the district as board president. I think every board member should do a turn, because it’s a lot of work and it shouldn’t always be one person.”

School board members elect a board president and vice-president every July.

The five-year terms of school board members are staggered so one seat is up for election each year, and the most recently-elected school board member is sworn in during the July meeting.

New school board member Kelly Wright was officially sworn into office Tuesday.

Wright, a 33-year-old Middletown resident and the wife of Appoquinimink Education Association President David Wright, defeated two-term incumbent Edna Cale and two other challengers May 14.

Her election came just five days after voters approved a 15-cent in the school tax rate, which followed a failed referendum in February.

District officials say the rate hike – combined with the temporary closure of two schools next year and $305,000 in spending cuts – were needed to stave off a $2 million shortfall anticipated during the 2013-2014 school year.

Wright’s first school board meeting in office followed a daylong “retreat” in which board members met for more than six hours to discuss the district’s strategic plan, policies and long-term fiscal health, including the coming school year’s $116 million budget.

“I can tell already that this is going to be an interesting five years,” Wright told the audience at Tuesday’s meeting.