BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Board member Jeffrey Brookner’s more than a decade-long tenure on the Bridgewater-Raritan board of education has come to a close.
The longtime school board member announced his resignation at the board’s Sept. 24 meeting. He said he had 105 days remaining in his term at that time, but had decided to step down to allow his successor more time to assimilate and deal with such issues as building security, which wouldn’t be finished until after Brookner’s term expires.
Brookner, who has served on the school board since 2007, is currently running for mayor of Bridgewater on the Democratic ticket in November’s elections. He is running against Republican candidate Matthew Moench, the current president of the Bridgewater Township Council and a long-time local councilman.
Brookner called it “a privilege” to have served on the board for the last dozen years. He also said the Bridgewater-Raritan school district has become stronger through the challenges it had faced.
“(We) never lost focus on the most important issue, student achievement,” Brookner said.
Brookner formally tendered his resignation, with the hopes that Steven Singer will succeed him. Singer is one of three people running for three open seats, with board president Jill Gladstone and board member Lynne Hurley running for new terms.
Brookner added that he has served with some 19 different school board members in his 12-year tenure, along with three superintendents and two interim superintendents, and more than 18,000 students in the Bridgewater-Raritan district.
“They were all wonderful to work with,” he said.
Brookner pointed out that Gladstone, Hurley and business administrator Peter Starrs have been with him since he started on the board, and offered his thanks to all of them and the rest of the board. He also thanked his wife and children, especially since he believes he has spent several hundred nights attending board meetings.
Gladstone said she understood his decision, although she had planned to bid farewell to Brookner in December, and not so soon. She thanked him for sharing his own thoughts with the board and the public.
“I know that I, and your fellow board members, many who have come and gone, and many still here, have genuinely appreciated your service and contributions to the board,” she said.
She called Brookner the board’s "resident editor,” someone who was quick to point out missing or even misplaced punctuation in policy revisions and other instances of grammar usage. She also labeled him its "resident wordsmith", the person who was often the go-to for drafting language for board goals, policies and amendments.
Lastly, she termed him the board's "resident mathematician,” who could crunch numbers and rapidly return figures in budget discussions or work regarding the the board's finance committee.
“I know that I’ve always appreciated that you are a straight-shooting, non-sugar-coated member of the board who has never been afraid to share your thoughts, even when you know they won’t be popular,” Gladstone said. “Our board discussions have often taken different twists and turns from your engagement and analysis of an issue.”
“From my perspective, and I’m confident others here would agree, your contributions to the board through four terms have had tremendous impact on the entire school community and I thank you for that,” Gladstone added. “We will miss you.”
Hurley followed in praising Brookner for his efforts and accomplishments on behalf of the board.
“It’s been a privilege,” said Hurley of serving with Brookner for the last dozen years. “I think the world of you.”
She explained that she has watched how much he cares, and that he has always listened, “and listened openly.”
Board member Zachary Malek pointed out that Brookner had actually been on the board when Malek was still in elementary school. He said Brookner’s efforts on the board have helped the district, and have also impacted him personally.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done for the board,” said Malek.
Superintendent Russell Lazovick said that he echoed the sentiments of others.
“You listened, and you think incredibly quickly,” he told Brookner. “You care about the kids, and you have shaped the board.”
According to board policy, the board of education can conduct interviews for the seat, which it hopes to fill at the next scheduled board meeting Oct. 7, at John F. Kennedy Primary School.
The reorganization meeting to install the three board members who are elected in November will be held in January.