FLEMINGTON, NJ - Board member Chris Walker resigned from the Flemington-Raritan Regional Board of Education June 22, less than halfway through a second three-year term, due to unexpectedly needing to move his family out-of-state and concerns over district finances.
The Raritan Township resident has served on the nine-member board for the past three-and-half years, after first being elected to the seat in 2016, and then again in 2019 as part of a campaign team alongside current board members, Dr. Marianne Kenny and Ed Morgan.
He most recently served on the curriculum, facilities and special education committees.
Despite announcing his intention to resign at the board meeting for personal reasons, without elaborating further, he later said his family is planning to relocate south for his wife’s work.
“I appreciate the time that I have served the community and supported this school district,” he wrote in his resignation letter to board leadership. “Best wishes and continued success to FRSD and our entire community.”
Walker will vacate his seat, which expires Dec. 31, 2022, and the board will need to appoint a replacement to finish out the six months remaining in this year.
The district is now accepting resumes and cover letters for any Raritan Township residents looking to fill the seat, with the deadline being July 17 at 4 p.m. Candidates are expected to be interviewed at the board's regular meeting July 27, via Zoom.
Send applications to Flemington-Raritan Regional School District Board of Education, attn: Mrs. Linda Benz, 50 Court Street, Flemington, NJ 08822, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walker has served two stints (1995-2001, 2008-2020) as a health/physical education teacher at Hunterdon Central Regional High School. During his time, he also filled in various coaching roles for the boys basketball, girls basketball, football and baseball teams.
He said he plans to semi-retire and find another opportunity in education.
There was another reason for Walker’s desire to resign, as said the self-described “fiscal hawk,” someone who is generally conservative, and is looking to “always question every single nickel and dime we’re spending.”
“We can’t just say we are for the students and teachers,” he said. “We’re also here for the taxpayers and those who don’t have kids in the schools.”
“I hope the district is more fiscally responsible going forward,” he added.
Walker said he now is “exhausted” after receiving constant pushback related to his approach on the district’s finances.
One of the reasons he said he decided not to vote for a new one-year contract for Business Administrator Stephanie Voorhees, a tenured employee, was his belief that she has shown a lack of fiscal responsibility. The board ultimately voted 6-2 in favor of the contract.
He also said he became tired of discussing board harmony and integrity, when he didn’t always feel like other members showcased those values.
Being a board member was “extremely rewarding, but a lot of hard work,” he said. During his three-and-a-half years, he said, he is most proud of the board’s work to hire Class Three Special Law Enforcement Officers (SLEO) to increase security at district schools.
Although his replacement will be appointed by the board, his seat will appear on the ballot in the upcoming election this November. The board-appointed replacement could decide to run in the election, but, either way, the winner of the seat in November will serve out the remaining two years of the three-year term.
The three-year seat will then appear on the ballot again in 2022.
Walker announced his intention to resign, effective Dec. 31, at the board meeting June 22, but, after further reflection, decided to resign earlier.
He said that he decided to change his resignation date to Monday, because if he stayed the course with the original day, his name wouldn’t have appeared on this year’s ballot. The board-appointed replacement would have served for the six remaining months of 2020 and all of 2021.
The 2021 election would have dictated who serves the last remaining year (2022) of the term.
He noted that he thought it would be “unfair” for the then eight-member board, comprised of six members from Raritan Township and two from Flemington Borough, to appoint a person to serve approximately 18 months without having been elected by the residents.
“Then 25 percent of the board is deciding who is serving Raritan, when they don’t even live in Raritan,” he said.
Members of the board wished Walker well.
"The Flemington-Raritan Board of Education wishes Mr. Walker all the best in the future, and thanks him for his service to the school district," the board said in a statement provided by president Tim Bart.
Walker’s resignation is the second one of the year, after former board member Sandra “Sandy” Borucki left in January.
Her seat was filled by Jeff Cain, who could decide to run if he wants to finish out the remaining length of Borucki’s term. The seats of board members Valerie Bart, Susan Mitcheltree and Morgan, will be up for election on this year’s ballot as well.
If a resident is interested in running in this year’s election on Nov. 3, a petition must be filed before 4 p.m. July 27. For more information on the upcoming school board election, visit www.frsd.k12.nj.us/Page/12086.