Two new community members, Ron Fisher and Byron Perez, were appointed to the Riverhead Board of Education at Tuesday night’s meeting.
The appointments were made possible following the June resignations of Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Amelia Lantz.
Mr. Fisher and Mr. Perez were chosen out of a pool of 12 candidates, school board president Greg Meyer said. Yolanda Thompson and Greg Fischer, who ran for the school board in the May election, were among the candidates. A 13th candidate missed the deadline application and wasn’t considered for the position, Mr. Meyer added.
“I’ve been excited just with Therese Zuhoski coming aboard [in July], now having Ron and Byron just brings an added excitement,” Mr. Meyer said. “Knowing what Bryon’s done for the community, at his job and what he’s volunteered to do, and same with Mr. Fisher and everything he’s been involved with in his community. Being able to take all of their passion and commitment and bring it to us to help strengthen our team here is real exciting.”
Mr. Perez, 33, is a Riverhead Town Police Officer. A son of Guatemalan immigrants, he is the police force’s first full-time Hispanic, bilingual officer.
A 2003 graduate of Riverhead High School, he has also volunteered with Riverhead Community Awareness Program since 2015, and lead its “Say No To Drugs” march at Pulaski Street School in 2015.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to serve my community in an aspect with the schools,” Mr. Perez said. “I grew up in this town. This school was a great school, and is a great school — one of the best, or the best, school in New York.”
Mr. Fisher, 34, has been a member of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association (FRNCA), and was the president for about a year. He resigned from that role Monday in advance of Tuesday’s school board meeting.
A 2001 graduate of Riverhead High School, he has also served on the Southampton Town Housing Authority and has plans to run for Southampton Town Trustee in the upcoming election. He also owns Fisher’s Signs & Shirts in Southampton.
“I’m really proud of the education I got in the Riverhead School District and I think this is my opportunity to pay it forward and help kids get the same quality of education that I got,” Mr. Fisher said.
Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse resigned with one year left on her term, and Ms. Lantz with two. Both Mr. Fisher and Mr. Perez will serve until the budget vote on May 15, 2018, where they will have to run for a term if they want to continue to serve.
With another current board member’s three-year term expiring in May, the top vote-getter in that election will serve the balance of Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse’s term, through July 1, and then begin a full-three year term.
The second-highest finisher will serve a three-year term starting July 1, and the third-highest vote getter will serve the remaining year of Ms. Lantz’s term, starting immediately after the election.
Both men agreed that their first meeting on the board went well.
“I feel like the students are our future,” Mr. Perez said. “To put my efforts to in to help them have a bright future, that’s pretty cool to me.”
Photo caption: Ron Fisher, left, and Byron Perez. (Credit: Nicole Smith)