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Newly elected Collier County school board members assume leadership roles

Collier County School Board
Posted at 2:43 PM, Nov 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-22 18:55:20-05

NAPLES, Fla. — A swearing-in ceremony for the newly elected school board members in Collier County attracted a crowd.

The large group was split between supporters and those who oppose the new school board members.

Tim Moshier, Jerry Rutherford, and Kelly Lichter were the members who unseated three incumbents during the election.

After the trio was sworn-in, there was a roaring standing ovation from the crowd.

After the ceremony, the meeting was open for public comment to hear from the community to find out who they recommended for the board's new chair.

“I have been in this county for almost 50 years, and this is the worst school board election I have ever witnessed," said one speaker at the podium.

Not everyone was happy with the change that has come to the Collier County School Board.

“We can’t have someone like Jerry Rutherford," said another speaker who was cut off from speaking after that comment.

"This is what usually happens after elections," said Lichter. “The nay-sayers are going to be out there, but I’m not going to give anything to feed into their narrative.”

Lichter who now represents district three wasn't only sworn into office but also takes over as the new board chair. She was nominated by two other board members and the rest of the board did not oppose.

Kelly Lichter
New Collier County School Board Chair Kelly Lichter

Newcomer Rutherford had a wave of recommendations from the crowd as well as Stephanie Lucarelli. Another newcomer Moshier also racked in a couple of nominations but was ultimately selected as vice chair of the board after he was nominated by Lichter.

With excitement, Lichter said she looks forward to leading the district and hopes other board members will work together to make a change.

“We have schools where the pass rates for third-grade reading is in the 30 percentile. That’s not acceptable,” Lichter said.

This is one of the key reasons she felt the board needed a makeover.

“I think we are entering a time where there is hope, there’s this need for change to increase academic achievement," Lichter said.

Academic achievement is her number one priority, but she added that the ability to hire the next superintendent is another focus. She said that decision will not be taken lightly.