Fox Point-Bayside School Board chooses Smulyan to fill vacancy

June 27, 2013

Fox Point — David Smulyan, an active member of the Bayside community, was unanimously selected by the Fox Point-Bayside School Board today to fill the vacancy left by former board President Debbie Friberg.

Friberg moved in mid-June to Charlotte, N.C. Five-year board member Alice Lawton was selected by the board to succeed Friberg as president. Smulyan will fill Friberg's seat through April, 2014, at which point the spring election will decide who serves the remainder of Friberg's term through April, 2015. Lawton and board member Tim Melchert will be up for re-election in April, 2014, as well.

Before they made their choice, board members lauded all five community members who had applied for Friberg's seat: Kelly Greer Levin, Dann Jacobson, Kim Mangarelli, Thomas Hayssen and Smulyan. Hayssen and Smulyan both ran unsuccessfully in the spring election, taking in 21 percent of the vote each.

"I don't think we can make a bad choice," board member Michael Weidner said.

Smulyan is the founder and president of management consulting company Optimal Solutions Squared, a Bayside Planning Commissioner and member of the district's Parent Advisory Council.

Board members referenced the district's repeated financial shortfalls over recent years, and the currently projected deficit of about $250,000 in the coming 2013-14 year, as reasons for giving added weight to Smulyan's background in finance and administration.

"For the immediate coming year, a serious consideration should be on financial acumen," Lawton said.

Last year the School Board considered and very nearly brought a referendum before voters in spring, 2013, to supplement the district budget by $600,000 annually over a 10-year period. In light of the district's financial challenges, the board will need to lead a campaign to put a similar referendum on the spring, 2014, ballot, Lawton said.

"I think we're going to have to pass a referendum," Lawton said. "We're going to have to think about that, and how to trim our budget. We can't continue to operate with a deficit. There's no way around it."

Asked after the board meeting whether he would support such a referendum, Smulyan wouldn't commit to a "yes" or "no" answer, saying that alongside cost-saving measures, one being shared services with local districts, a referendum could be considered.

"My hope is that I can add some creative thinking to finance," Smulyan said. "Every option has to be on the table."

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