The Methacton School Board of Directors picked its ninth and final member during the meeting Tuesday night after reviewing the final three candidates. The position was left vacant, the third in the school year, when Mark O’Neill left his position, citing the need for more work and family time.
In the end, the eight-member board changed to nine unanimously, welcoming Peter McFarland as a new board member. McFarland, who stated he’d lived the district for more than 25 years, had five children, three of whom were educated by the schools in Methacton.
Immediately following the vote, the Hon. Judge Thomas P. Rogers swore McFarland in, making him a voting member for the Tuesday night meeting. The newly appointed member took his seat after the swearing in and continued the remainder of the meeting on the board, officially.
Through the course of filling the most recent positions, one left by O’Neill and another by Joyce E. Petrauskas, a total of 16 candidates applied for the two seats, according to Board President S. Christian Nascimento.
Finalists including Matthew Cox, who was also interviewed for the Petrauskas seat, and Zahn Lee were also interviewed for the role. Just as the board had done for the prior appointment, Nascimento asked five identical questions of the three finalists, then turning over the candidate to the board.
Each had to tell district solicitor, Frank Bartle, that they were indeed over the age of 18, a resident of Methacton School District for at least one year, and that they were registered voters.
McFarland stated that he and his wife, Mary, had been quite active while their children were in school, including work as home and school president and volunteering for the Post Prom committee. Additionally, he volunteered time with Habitat for Humanity, as well as becoming a part of SCORE. He also assists on a scholarship program for both a male and female player as appointed by Methacton United Soccer Club. The couple also volunteers and participate in fundraising for “Small Steps in Speech,” a charity for which Mary is president.
“Every Christmas morning, we go to the VA Hospital in Philadelphia to visit with the veterans, many of whom don’t ever get a visit,” said McFarland.
In addition to a vast volunteering experience, McFarland also has 28 years of work in the sales and marketing fields, spending most of his time as a general manager in the manufacturing industry.
“I’ve dealt with a budget, the need to reach a consensus, and I’ve been very successful in that environment,” said McFarland. “Those skills and experiences will serve me well as I participate on the board.”
McFarland, who has since retired, said he was looking for a way to stay active with his business skills, while at the same time giving back to a district that had educated his children.
“I believe I have the skills and experience that I’d like to continue to use now that I am no longer working,” he said. “I enjoy doing and enjoy being a part of the process.”
School board member Kim Woodring asked the candidate what “indicators of success” he would use to rank a public school system.
“I think the success of the students is not just in test scores but in life itself, and their ongoing pursuits, college or otherwise, is the measure of success of a school system,” said McFarland. “Students of a system are the measurement of success. They are the reason the school system exists, and success of educating those children in various elements, is not only show in the tests and metrics, but in their sense of citizenship, athletic endeavors, or things that help them cope with the world as they go on.”
McFarland was suggested as an appointment member via the motion from board member Jim Phillips. Herbert Rothe III seconded the motion, which was unanimously approved. The board now sits at its full nine members.