MADISON, NJ – Leslie Lajewski was unanimously voted in as the Madison Board of Education’s new president on Friday evening during the Board’s rescheduled reorganization meeting.
Lajewski first joined the Board in 2014 for a three-year term, was re-elected for a second term in 2016. Her current term will expire in 2019.
Former Board President Lisa Ellis, who held the position for more than a decade, confirmed earlier this week that she would step down and, if elected, assume the role of vice president.
Ellis received enough votes—with one abstention from newly-elected Board member David Irwin—to take her seat as Lajewski’s right hand. Abi Singh, the Board’s Harding Township representative, was absent from Friday’s meeting and did not participate.
Ellis was appointed as Madison’s first director of business development on Nov. 13 by the borough council, an undertaking that involves countless responsibilities, and said she would not pursue the presidency this year.
Madison Mayor Bob Conley swore in three new Board members on Friday: Heather Reddy, Pamela Yousey and David Irwin.
“Congratulations and best of luck,” Conley said to the trio after they took the Oath of Office. “Thanks for stepping forward to serve our town.”
Reddy, Yousey and Irwin were among five candidates vying for three open seats on the Board during the Nov. 7 election. Irwin won a spot over incumbent Debra Coen by just five votes. First-time runner Curtis Gilfillan came in at the back of the pack.
Yousey is a 12-year Madison resident with more than 20 years of human resources experience in diversity and inclusion. Reddy worked in technology management for Morgan Stanley before she became a stay-at-home mom.
Irwin has nearly two decades of experience in educational consulting, and travels nationwide to help school districts solve what he calls “challenging problems.”
Though each of the three candidates ran independently, they all have supported increased transparency and efficiency regarding Board operations and practices, something the Madison community and many Rose City parents have advocated for since the borough was left without a permanent superintendent near the end of 2016.
Mark Schwarz was appointed on May 23 as the district’s new superintendent and, since beginning work in the late summer, has implemented several changes in an effort to heed parents’ cries for increased communication between the Board and the public.
Schwarz hosts monthly Coffee with the Superintendent meetings, where parents can share concerns about the inner workings of Madison schools and start a dialogue with district administrators about these perceived issues.
To that end, he has also advocated for changes to the district website and the creation of a director of human resources position.
Reddy, Yousey and Irwin all said that they look forward to helping Schwarz pursue his agenda as their work with the Board begins.