POTTSTOWN PA – Before their meeting began Tuesday night (Aug. 14, 2012), as several members of its Board of School Directors stood talking outside the front door of the Pottsgrove School District offices on Kauffman Road, then-President Michael Neiffer hinted the evening might include some interesting twists.
He wasn’t kidding.
In a change he said had been contemplated for months, and which seemed orchestrated as it unfolded, Neiffer opened the meeting and minutes later announced his immediate resignation as president, a position he’s held for about six years.
As a director only and president no longer, he then asked Vice President Scott Fulmer to lead the group. Fulmer was subsequently nominated and elected by his colleagues as Neiffer’s successor in a unanimous vote. David Faulkner was similarly elected vice president to succeed Fulmer, and Justin Valentine was chosen as secretary to succeed Philip Keogh, who retired from the board in June.
No other nominees were suggested for any of the vacancies. No board member comments were made before or after votes were cast.
What made the surprise, but otherwise routine, exercise fun for their audience to watch was the shifting done by board members surrounding the U-shaped conference table.
As he resigned, Neiffer rose from the center and moved to the audience’s right. Fulmer rose from the right and moved to the center. The two exchanged chairs, and sat. Then, following Faulkner’s election as vice president, Neiffer rose once more and moved from far right to far left. Faulkner rose and moved from far left to far right. The two exchanged chairs, and sat again.
What didn’t move with them were their desktop nameplates. Neiffer for a brief time was identified to the public with a sign that read “Mr. Fulmer,” and then by one that read “Mr. Faulkner.” The oversight was quickly noticed by news camera-conscious Solicitor Kyle Berman, who stretched across the table and passed each nameplate to its rightful owner.
The leadership change had first been discussed almost 18 months ago, Neiffer explained as he resigned, but was delayed by negotiations over the district teachers’ labor contract and then by debate regarding Pottsgrove’s redistricting plans. With both of those issues now resolved, Neiffer said, a new president “can put a concerted focus on what’s ahead of us.”
At the meeting’s end Fulmer praised Neiffer’s tenure as president, and the board and audience applauded.
Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Aug. 14 meeting):
- Pottsgrove Personnel Decisions Affect 53 Positions
- Who’s On First? Pottsgrove Board Changes Leadership