BARNEGAT, NJ – Most of the time, students and staff are the only ones who receive recognition at Barnegat Board of Education meetings. As 2019 comes to an end, the school district chose to show appreciation to three other significant people. All volunteered their time to add to the betterment of Barnegat schools.
On Tuesday, Barnegat Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Latwis and Stephen J. Brennan, Business Administrator/Board Secretary, presented proclamations to the three departing board members, Scott Sarno, Christine Harashinski, and Peter Toth.
Sarno won his first election to the Board of Education in 2004. He continued his service in subsequent years, although not in consecutive terms. For the last five years, Sarno presided as board president, a position he says he never asked for at any point.
In thanking Sarno for his numerous years of dedication, Latwis said, “Even speaking to my days as a Director of Special Education, you’ve been nothing but supportive of the things we try to do here. You really have a “student-first” mentality. Everything you’ve done, you’ve shown 100% hard work.”
The district next recognized Harashinski, who decided not to run for a second term on the Board of Education. She cited personal and family obligations as the reason for her decision.
Latwis said that it would be an understatement to acknowledge Harashinski as “super-prepared” when it came to her work. He recalled Harashinski’s efforts when she worked on the committee for the grade ranges restructuring.
“You reached out to every district in the State of New Jersey and came in with an 802-page document that outlined everything,” Latwis said to the outgoing board member. “The level of commitment you brought made you exceptional to work with.”
In his capacity as this year’s Board President, Sarno remarked on Harashinski’s ability to work well with others and dedication to assigned tasks. “Barnegat schools are better because of the service you provided,” Sarno said.
“It has been a pleasure to work with everyone here,” responded Harashinski. “The district is going in a fantastic direction. I am very proud of what we’ve all accomplished together.”
Outgoing Board of Education member Peter Toth served as of member of the Board of Education from May 2016 until this year. He and Sarno both sought reelection as part of the same team but did not win.
“You are honestly one of the most thoughtful and caring individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to know,” Latwis said in recognizing Toth. “You’ve done so much and contributed so much to the Board of Education.”
Latwis specifically pointed out Toth’s support of the ROTC program, as well as his help in initiating the Cyber Patriot program within the district.
Toth thanked the Superintendent and his team for the work done within the district. He said that serving as a member of the Board of Education gave him a “whole new level of respect” for what the administration does.
“As a parent, you don’t really see what happens behind the scenes,” Toth admitted.
Board President Sarno said that he and Toth became friends as a result of working together on the Board of Education. “Any time you’ve been asked to the step up to the plate, you’ve always done it,” Sarno said. “I appreciate all of your dedication.”
In delivering his closing remarks, Sarno directed his comments to remaining board members and new ones who come on next year. “When the district and the board are working right – and the administration is working right, our children benefit. That’s all that matters at the end of the day.”
A resident of Barnegat for over twenty years, Sarno feels the district is in the best shape it’s ever been and credits the current administration and teachers. Additionally, the school system has been able to work well in negotiating contracts.
During the public comment session, “Chip” Junker of the Barnegat teacher’s union commended the outgoing board members. He said that he found them all willing to work together for the best of the district and its employees.
At next month’s reorganization meeting, Sean O’Brien, Robert Sawicki, and Robert Quelch begin the year as new Board of Education members. O’Brien and Quelch regularly attended past Board meetings and have been quite vocal on many issues.