ELIZABETH, NJ –Commissioner Stanley Neron was elected president and Maria Carvalho was re-elected vice president of the Board of Education at the re-organization meeting Jan. 5 held in Elizabeth High School Frank J. Cicarell Academy.

Outgoing President Charlene Bathelus thanked her supporters. “I thank God for the opportunity that He gave me. We accomplished so much these last 12 months that passed much too quickly.”

Among the accomplishments of 2016, Bathelus cited a $3.4 million savings in legal fees, the Adopt-a-School program, and the opening of two new high schools, one of which was the Frank J. Cicarell Academy.

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“To the next president, I welcome you to this wonderful experience,” said Bathelus. “I will continue to work tirelessly for the children of in our schools.”

The meeting began with a presenting of the colors by the Admiral William F.Halsey Jr. Health & Public Safety Academy, following by a performance of the Frank J. Cigarell Academy Jazz Band. In addition to Bathelus, Neron, and Carvalho, board members Dan Nina, Stephanie Goncalves, newly re-elected Jose Rodriguez, and new member Diane Barbosa were also in attendance. Board members Paul Pereira and Ana Maria Amin were absent.

During the public portion of the meeting, two residents Cristina Moreira and Dr. Patricia Gallante chastised the board for not starting meetings on time. “It upsets me that these meetings don’t start on time,” said Dr. Gallante. Saying that the board is trying to install good work habits in students, Gallante stated, “You are giving students the idea that they don’t have to be punctual.”

Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer addressed the issue of retro pay to teachers. Teachers were granted a two percent wage increase as of June 8, 2015. “There was a delay because of a disagreement of the amount and the calculations,” she explained. She explained that $2.4 million was paid out on Dec.31, 2016. Another two percent retro pay covering the next year will be paid in February. She further announced that she is available to clarify any questions from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. every weekday.

The re-organization meeting attracted governmental leaders from the state, county, and city. Senator Raymond Lesniak administered the oath of office to new board member Diane Barbosa and re-elected board member Neron. Mayor Christian Bollwage swore in re-elected board member Jose Rodriguez. In the audience were Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Freeholder Sergio Granados, City Councilwoman Patricia Perkins-Auguste, and City Council President Carlos Torres.