Kenilworth BOE selects new member after resignation

KENILWORTH, NJ — The Kenilworth Board of Education selected a new board member to fill the vacancy after the resignation of Walter Sosnosky. A meeting was held Dec.12 in the Board Conference Room at David Brearley School and Genean Braun was chosen as the new board member. The eight other board members conducted interviews at the meeting in order to make their decision.
Interested persons were instructed to write a letter of intent and send it to Secretary to the Board Vincent Gonnella by Dec. 5. The term will last until Dec. 31, 2017.

“The person must be at least 18 years of age, a registered voter, a resident of Kenilworth and be able to read and write,” Gonnella told LocalSource.

Sosnosky resigned from his position because he felt the board refused to acknowledge his ideas regarding issues such as the budget. He also felt that the board would only consider seeking members with children, as his wife applied to be a board member but was denied the opportunity due to the fact she’s not a parent. He felt that he was discouraged from speaking to the teachers and parents.

“The board was extremely closed off to any new ideas. Many of the board members have been in their positions for years, and they are content with the status quo,” Sosnosky told LocalSource in an interview. “I had suggestions as to ways we could eliminate increases in the budget and help parents and students, but no one wanted to listen.”

Kenilworth Board of Education President Nancy Zimmerman described the interview process that took place at the meeting Dec. 12 as well as some of the criteria board members consider when making their decision to select a new member.

“We look at what each candidate can contribute to the board,” Zimmerman told LocalSource over the phone. “Community service or other related work might also be a deciding factor. We get a feel as to who is the best candidate for the position during the interview process.

Last time we selected a new board member, both candidates were equally qualified, but we decided to go with the candidate that had children because, while not every member of the board is required to have children, we strive to have a balance between the members who have children and those who don’t. This was the deciding factor during the last selection process, so each time there might be a slightly different factor that determines the person we select.

Ultimately we want someone with an open mind. We want someone without judgment or bias. While we all have something that motivates us to run as a board member, we also have to realize that we can’t come rushing in and make immediate changes. Things have to be done a certain way in order to be achieved.”

Braun has two children in the Kenilworth school system; one is a freshman and the other is a senior at David Brearley High School. Braun has been a resident of Kenilworth for 20 years.

“As a member of the board, I want to continue working to improve the school district,” Braun told LocalSource in an interview. “I want to get the schools to where they need to be, and I will continue working with the board to make the necessary improvements.”