Longtime Board of Education member Harry Shea has decided to step away after 25 years of service to the Cinnaminson School District.
Shea was recognized on Tuesday night at the Board of Education meeting for his service to Cinnaminson.
Shea is a longtime resident of the township and graduate of the school district.
Shea served from 1990-2011 and again from 2013-2016.
We had the chance to sit down with Shea this week to talk about his time in Cinnaminson as a student, resident and school board member.
Here is our conversation.
Cinn City News: What piqued your interest in running for and joining the board originally?
Shea: Way back when I lived in Palmyra briefly. When my daughter started kindergarten in Palmyra we decided we wanted to move to Cinnaminson because of the district. When she got into first grade I heard a rumor that the districts were going to merge. Palmyra and Riverton kids would come into Cinnaminson at least for part of their education and it would be a tri-boro district. I started going to board meetings and found out it really was more of a rumor than anything. In the meantime, I got hooked on the board and the decisions they were making. One year the board president at the time worked for the state and found out he was precluded from working for a board that took state aid so he had to leave. I kind of got my first seat uncontested. I did one term and then another term and got asked to be board president. I was president for I think 17 of the years I was there. I got hooked on it because I wanted to find out whether Cinnaminson was going to be its own district.
Cinn City News: Which major project can you look back on and say you were proud to take part in?
Shea: The one we just completed. It certainly was one of the biggest. It improved the security at all of the buildings. It benefited all four schools. The security issue was something we had to take seriously and did here in Cinnaminson. The one thing I’m proud of is every time we did a bond referendum we have passed every single one we did since I’ve been on the board since 1990. We never had one fail. I think it’s because we took the time to explain them to the public, gave the public total access to the documents and gave them all the information they needed so they could make a decision. This last referendum is the biggest thing we’ve ever done. I was here when Rush and New Albany schools got expanded for increased enrollment.
Cinn City News: Was it a difficult decision for you to make to step away?
Shea: It was difficult because I wanted to stay on during Dr. Illuzzi’s time here. I think I was elected eight times. When I came back I filled somebody’s seat who left abruptly. I didn’t want to contest the seat against somebody who seemed qualified and is a parent in the district. I didn’t feel like fighting for the seat. I didn’t want to challenge somebody who I think has a chance to serve so I bowed out. I would’ve liked to stay for another year or two to see the new superintendent come in place.
Cinn City News: Any chance that in the future, you start getting the itch again, and maybe we find you on the ballot?
Shea: Well I’m not going anywhere. I’m not relocating. I said to a couple of board members, ‘I’ve done this before. I’ve said goodbye in the past.’ I was off for two years, but I came back because of the referendum. You never say never. If something happens, if somebody leaves abruptly, I could come back. I have the history of being here when the high school was built in 1962, I was a student there.
Cinn City News: What has it been like to grow up in the district as a student first and then work on the board?
Shea: It’s rewarding. I’m happy to see what we’ve done for this generation of students. I think back on my school days at Cinnaminson and they were some of the fondest memories I have. It was because boards at that time made good decisions as to who they hired. I wanted to do the same thing for our students. I am happy that we do the arts, music and drama. I was a sports guy myself as a student, but I’m happy for these kids today that they can do so much. You not only reward the children while on the board, but also the property owners if you make the right decisions. It’s by far the most important committee at the local level someone can serve on. Seeing what happens today, you miss it all as a student, the decisions being made. It’s rewarding to see it as a board member.
Image credit: Cinnaminson Board of Education Twitter account.
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