The Royal Palm Beach Village Council appointed six members to the village’s newly reconfigured Education Advisory Board on Thursday, July 19.
Councilman Jeff Hmara, who serves as liaison to the Education Advisory Board, was responsible for recommending the six individuals to the council for approval.
“We were pleased that for the six positions that we have to fill — the five regular seats and one alternate seat — on the Education Advisory Board, we actually had eight applications,” Hmara said. “Each one of the applicants brings something of significance and value to our board.”
Bill Thallemer, Krystal Clark, Steven Brown, Julie Highsmith and Dwayne St. Hill were recommended by Hmara to fill the regular positions on the board, while Pamela Shetka was recommended to fill the alternate seat.
Hmara said that because all the applicants were qualified for the seats, the decision was not easy.
Hmara explained the qualifications he considered while deciding on the best applicants to fill the seats on the board.
“One of the things I’d like to remind all of us of is that we applied criteria that emphasized [choosing] actual professional and experienced educators [or] parents who have children in the school system and are involved in groups like the PTO and things of that nature,” Hmara said. “What I did was take a look at each one of the applications and, while looking at the criteria that we have, consider what each one brings. Beyond that, I asked each one of the applicants to meet with me.”
Other council members had some questions in regard to Hmara’s choices.
“There is one gentleman, Robert Kreitzman, who has extensive knowledge of and is very active in our local area schools and community,” Vice Mayor Selena Smith said. “Why [wasn’t he] considered over some of the others who have more out-of-state knowledge?”
Hmara explained that, through his choices, he picked the applicants who have previously been educators, whether in Florida or in another state.
“Those with out-of-state knowledge are professional educators and, again, that was one of the criteria we were trying to focus on, to put together a board that would have the local knowledge of individuals who are currently involved as parents of students — PTO members and folks like that — and [who have been] professional educators,” Hmara explained.
Smith remained unsure about Hmara’s choices.
“The criteria that you just went through, as far as PTA involvement, knowledge of the community and having a child in the school system is filled by [Kreitzman], while three of your recommendations never had a child in the school system and currently don’t either,” she said. “I’m using your criteria and saying that there is someone who fits the criteria, but you went with others who don’t have the experience in the area.”
Village Manager Ray Liggins clarified the overall criteria for choosing members to the council.
“Mr. Kreitzman [currently] does not have a child in [the school system]. Your two criteria were either experience in the field of education, a member of a parent organization or a parent of a child in the school system. The liaison chose the other six as having better experience,” Liggins said.
The motion to approve the recommended applicants was based on the entire slate and not on individual applicants. In the end, the motion passed unanimously.
Kreitzman, who was present at the meeting, was not happy with the outcome. “Just so you know, I don’t forget,” he said.
The Education Advisory Board’s new members will hold their first meeting on Monday, Aug. 13 at 6 p.m.