BAYONNE, NJ - In a shift of leadership that may have significant implications for the future, a divided Bayonne Board of Education voted to appoint Maria Valado president and Chris Munoz vice president at their reorganization meeting Monday.
Munoz became the deciding vote on a board otherwise equally divided over ideological lines.
The vote unseated Joseph Broderick who had served as president of the board since 2014 when the body reverted from one appointed by the mayor to one elected by voters.
The implications of the change, however, are not completely clear. Some critics claim that Mayor Jimmy Davis will have more influence on the board, because two members he endorsed in the last election voted with the majority to support Valado and Munoz.
Other critics, however, claim Valado and Munoz are too closely tied to Peter Franco, a well-known Davis opponent.
Denis Wilbeck, who previously served as vice president for the board, Broderick, Ava Finnerty, and Michael Alonso voted unsuccessfully against Valado and Muniz, but failed to nominate their own candidates.
Valado and Munoz benefited from the support of newly elected trustees Jan Patrick Egan and Lisa Burke, as well as incumbent Joan Casais.
Munoz, apparently conscious of his position as the deciding vote, said he hoped to work with those trustees who voted against him.
Valado, who said that she also would seek to win the trust of those trustees who opposed her, thanked outgoing Broderick for the work he did as president, while at the same time predicting that the board would become more responsible to the public, by more directly responding to their concerns.
“We will respond in a timely manner,” she said, noting that under her watch the board would support the needs of students and teachers.
Mike Morris, speaking in the public portion, called it “a sad night” that saw the removal of Broderick as president.
“This is a sad night for the city of Bayonne, the school districts and the students,” he said. “Mr. Broderick was a seasoned, professional negotiator.”
Morris said he did not vote for Valado and does not believe that she has enough experience to serve as presidents.
“But this is the democratic process and I must accept it,” he said, before addressing Valado directly. “You have big shoes to fill and hopefully you can do it because we are at a crossroads in the Bayonne school system.”
“We are here because Trustee Broderick brought us here.”
MelissaGodesky-Rodriguez, who unsuccessfully ran for the school board in November, asked in the public session if the board would maintain the precedent set by the previous board by maintaining the relationship it started last year with various parent-teacher organizations,
Valado, and other board members, assured Rodriguez that there would be a continued communication between the board and these groups, with Finnerty encouraging the new board president to assign each member to a specific school, making them responsible to report back about each school’s activities.
Rodriguez also asked about the ongoing agreement between the school district and Hudson County Community College that allows high school students to achieve college credits, drawing a response from school administrators that not only are they reaching out to eighth graders to make them aware of the program, but also that the partnership with HCCC is just one of several opportunities for students to earn college credit while studying at Bayonne High School.
The Bayonne Board of Education is scheduled to meet next on Tuesday, January 28.