The Board of Education appointed its newest member Tuesday night to temporarily fill an upcoming vacancy.
After a round of public interviews with , the board unanimously selected Michael Ritchie, co-founder of the New Haven Boosters Association, for the temporary position.
Ritchie will finish the term of the seat being left vacant by board clerk Kevin Harper, who will resign at the end of the calendar due to his moving out of the district. Ritchie will take the seat in January and serve through November 2012, when Harper’s seat is set to expire. The seat will be one of three open seats placed on the general election ballot next year.
Harper said Ritchie possessed all of the qualities he was looking for in a candidate to succeed him. Harper said he wanted someone who was thoughtful and hardworking, visible in the community and already familiar with the school district’s issues.
Board president Michelle Matthews agreed.
“I was looking for a candidate who can hit the ground running and has a good grasp of the issues we are facing. Mr. Ritchie certainly meets that criteria,” Matthews said.
A marketing consultant and father of two students, Ritchie has served as a school site council chair at and is currently a member of the Logan site council. He’s also a member of the and was active during the Measure B parcel tax campaign.
With the Boosters, Ritiche helped raised funds for sports and music programs and helped organize the over the summer.
“Working with the schools has been an integral part of my life for the last several years,” Ritchie said Tuesday night. “Seeing that things are still bleak with the state, this seemed like the next logical step to continue what I do in a broader sense.”
“I would really love to see if a board member can be much more of a grassroots advocate, working to have a closer connection to the community,” Ritchie said.
During the interviews held Tuesday night, Ritchie trumped his connection to the community.
When asked what he could offer to the school board, Ritchie said he would bring his passion as a volunteer and a unique perspective from the point of a community advocate.
“We’re in such difficult times budget-wise,” Ritchie told the board. “I’d love to see more collaboration with folks across the street in City Council.”
Ritchie was one of eight potential candidates who were interviewed and given points based on their responses. Ritchie ranked highest with 213 points, followed by Kate Sprotte, who scored 193.5.
Sprotte, who has a background in curriculum design, is a parent volunteer in and a member of the new project. She said she’s passionate about education and is strongly considering running for a school board seat next November.
“It was affirming to hear the commitment of others and the desire to keep New Haven strong,” she said.
Ritchie, who will be sworn in on Jan. 17 during the school board’s first meeting of 2012, said he’s looking forward to the position.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, and I like hard work,” Richie said.