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Palisades fills two school board vacancies


Palisades School Board Thursday picked Michael Hsu, the current president of the Palisades Community Foundation, and Amanda Benoikan, the director of education for the New Hope-Solebury School District, to fill two board vacancies.

Willingly interrupting their summer break, in a burst of community dedication and enthusiasm, the board members, district staff and special volunteers met to name two interim directors for the district’s Region III, which covers Springfield.

Hsu and Benoikan are set to serve until the December board reorganization meeting, when the results of the community-wide November election will determine who will represent Springfield in 2024 and for the balance of their terms.

After conducting presentations and interviews from eight volunteers offering to fill the vacancies created by the resignations of Bob Musantry and Dawn Grochowiak, the board made its selections.

In addition to Hsu and Benoikan, the candidates included Roark Birsner, William H. Devane III, David Diaz, Jr., Kimberlee Kruchinski, Betsy Nielsen, and Linda Wenhold. The board had indicated a preference for volunteers to not include any of the three residents running for the two seats in November.

After each candidate was drawn, in order by lot, to briefly state their qualifications and motivations, board members alternated in asking them three questions: what did they regard as the primary concern facing the board; what made for a good board meeting; and whether they would be willing to run for a seat in a regular school board election.

Throughout the process, sitting members expressed deep gratitude for the volunteers for stepping forward, and offering their “exceptional qualifications.”

They also urged those not elected to consider volunteering to serve on board committees, while considering to run in future general elections. In addition, the board elected already-sitting board members to fill the board’s Bucks County Intermediate Unit and Upper Bucks County Technical School committee vacancies created by the resignations, also on an interim basis until December.

Also at the July 13 meeting, the board appointed Lorie Olexson to serve as the district’s next business administrator, replacing long-serving Drew Bishop, who left to serve in a similar capacity for another district.

Previous and current board treasurers David Haubert and James Hallowell praised her qualifications, and her standout performance during the candidate interviews. She is currently serving as assistant business administrator for the Quakertown Community School District, and previously served as financial operations supervisor for the Bethlehem Area School District.

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