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Scotch Plains-Fanwood:

Thomas Russo Joins School Board;

Mrs. Simpson Voted Vice President

By Brian Carovillano

Specially Written for The Times

The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education held its reorganizational meeting last Thursday, welcoming new blood to its ranks and making the slight realignment official. New member Thomas Russo was sworn in by Assistant Superintendent for Business and Board Secretary Richard J. Marshall, along with reelected members August A. Ruggiero and Theresa Larkin.

Mr. Russo was the top vote-getter in last month's election with 1,052 votes, according to the official tallies which were read by Mr. Marshall. Mr. Russo takes the place of former board Vice President Lillian M. Dettmar. Mr. Ruggiero received 1,005 votes to place second, followed closely by Mrs. Larkin's 1,004. Mrs. Dettmar tallied 842 votes, good enough to land her in fourth place, but not good enough to keep her on the board.

Mr. Marshall also read the final tallies for the budget vote, which passed by a margin of 2,008 to 983. In Fanwood, 543 affirmative votes were cast against 301 "no" votes. A total of 1,465 Scotch Plains residents voted in favor of the budget, while 682 voted against the spending plan. The total turnout for both towns was 3,168.

Dr. Donald E. Sheldon was reelected as the board's President by a unanimous vote after being nominated by board member Morris H. Gillet.

Dr. Sheldon expressed his gratitude for the board's continued confidence in his leadership, and praised the effectiveness of its members.

"This is without a doubt the finest group of people I've ever worked with," said Dr. Sheldon, "And that doesn't mean that we don't have our differences."

He added that while disagreement over issues might sometimes divide board members politically, "we all walk out as friends."

Jessica L. Simpson of Fanwood stepped into the Vice Presidency that was previously occupied by Mrs. Dettmar. Nominated by Mr. Ruggiero and approved by a unanimous vote, Mrs. Simpson also thanked the board members for the honor.

"It is truly a labor of love for me," said Mrs. Simpson of her involvement with the board. "I look forward to another exciting and challenging year for the board."

The remainder of the meeting was occupied with the formality of approving appointments including legal counsel, auditing services and negotiators. In each case the services were retained at a slight increase over last year's fees, ranging from 2.5 to 3.6 percent. The schedule of tax payments and designation of official depositories were also approved just before the board adjourned to executive session.

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