Jacob Allen morphed from student to graduate to school board member -- in less than two weeks.
Allen, 18, from earlier this month, and on Monday night became the newest -- and youngest -- member of the Nazareth Area School Board. He ran unsuccessfully for a board seat in the May primary.
Board members voted unanimously to appoint Allen to the seat formerly held by Dr. John A. Marino, after he moved out of the district's "Region 1."
Allen, of Bushkill Township, was the only person to submit a letter of interest to replace Marino. Before he took his seat on the board Monday, he first fielded a few questions from his soon-to-be colleagues.
Board member Thomas Maher asked Allen to outline areas of concern on which he planned to focus. Allen emphasized the importance of making sure budget concerns do not derail the quality of students' education. He also noted the importance of maintaining the quality of college preparatory-level courses, since basic-level academic courses will no longer be offered -- per government mandate.
Maurice Heller, the board's vice president, asked Allen if he agreed with the board's philosophy of delegating much of its work to committees consisting of a few board members. The committees report the results of their work to the board.
“I think committees are a good way to work,” Allen replied, citing his work on a church committee, which he said was productive.
The board had 30 days to fill Marino's seat. If the board was unable to do so, the appointment would have gone to Northampton County Court.
“I'd rather see somebody on the board who is interested in the board rather than have the court appoint someone,” Heller said.
And Allen has shown plenty of interest, attending board meetings throughout his high school years in addition to running -- unsuccessfully -- in the May primary.
Allen will serve at least through the end of November. Whether he serves beyond that will be up to the voters. Marino's term expires in December 2013, but state law mandates the remaining two years be placed on the ballot this November.
The Pennsylvania Public School Code reads, in part: 24 P.S. § 3-315
§ 3-315. Filling of vacancies
In case any vacancy shall occur in any board of school directors by reason of death, resignation, removal from the district, or otherwise ... in a school district of the second, third, or fourth classes, the remaining members of the board of school directors shall, by a majority vote thereof, fill such vacancy from the qualified electors of the district within thirty (30) days thereafter.
In a district of the second, third, or fourth class, the person selected to fill such vacancy shall be a qualified elector of the district and shall hold his office, if the term thereof so long continues, until the first Monday of December after the first municipal election occurring more than sixty (60) days after the vacancy shall have occurred. At such election an eligible person shall be elected for the remainder of the unexpired term.
If, by reason of a tie vote or otherwise, such vacancy shall not have been filled by the board of school directors within thirty (30) days after such vacancy shall have occurred from the qualified electors of the district, the court of common pleas of the proper county, upon the petition of ten or more resident taxpayers, shall fill such vacancy by the appointment of a suitable person from the qualified electors of the district if the term of the vacant office so long continues, until the first Monday of December after the first municipal election occurring more than sixty (60) days after the vacancy shall have occurred. At such election an eligible person shall be elected for the remainder of the unexpired term.