Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 7:35 pm | Fair 69º


Santa Maria-Bonita Will Appoint Candidate to Fill Board Vacancy

Applications for empty seat will be accepted from April 18 through May 12 after member Bruno Brunello resigns

Members of the Santa Maria-Bonita School District board of education decided Wednesday night that they will appoint someone to replace member Fidenzio “Bruno” Brunello, who resigned earlier this month.
Members of the Santa Maria-Bonita School District board of education decided Wednesday night that they will appoint someone to replace member Fidenzio “Bruno” Brunello, who resigned earlier this month. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

To fill a vacancy, the Santa-Maria Bonita School District board of education on Wednesday agreed to solicit applications from interested candidates and appoint a replacement next month.

The vacancy was created by the April 1 resignation of board member Fidenzio “Bruno” Brunello, who had served on the panel for 14 years.

Interim Superintendent Matt Beecher said Wednesday night that the remaining four board members have 60 days —until May 30 — to fill the vacancy through an appointment. 

Other options called for leaving the seat vacant until the regularly scheduled November election, or holding a special election, an alternative most agencies reject due to expense.

After Beecher’s presentation, the board agreed to appoint a replacement, taking applications from April 18 through May 12, choosing an option that gives people a longer period to apply. 

“Having participated in the appointment process previously, from my perspective it seemed open and very fair and straightforward,” board member Linda Cordero said. “I would be in favor of doing that again.”

Board member JoAnn “Jody” Oliver agreed.

“I felt very comfortable that we had the information we needed,” she said. “I felt very comfortable that it was a fair process, and that we were able to make a good choice, not a rushed choice.”

The district will make application packets available online or at the district office on Miller Street.

“A lot of this we have already because we’ve gone through the appointment process back in 2010,” Beecher said.

Six years ago, longtime board member Ken Milo died, leading to the appointment of Cordero.

John Hollinshead, board president, said the final selection would involve an open process conducted in a public session, “not behind closed doors.”

The top candidates will be interviewed in public during a special study session scheduled for 5 p.m. May 17.

However, it’s not clear if the plan to narrow the field of candidates would be done in public. 

If a large number of candidates applies, the board agreed to appoint a subcommittee — Hollinshead, board member Ricky Lara and the interim superintendent — to narrow the field to five.

The person appointed to the seat must be a registered voter and live within the Santa Maria-Bonita district’s boundaries, Beecher said. 

Brunello’s four-year term wasn’t set to expire until 2018. The provisional appointment of his replacement would last through November, when the seat will appear on the ballot as a two-year term.

Whoever is selected would then have to run for the term to keep the job.

Additionally, three four-year terms also will be up for grabs this fall. Those seats are now filled by Hollinshead, Oliver and Cordero.

Brunello has been a longtime fixture of the school district, beginning his career there in 1960 as a junior high math and science teacher, and holding a variety of positions, including assistant superintendent of instructional services, before retiring in 1997. 

He said he was retiring from the board after 14 years to spend more time with his family, including wife, Jackie, two children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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