MILLBURN, NJ — When he is sworn in to the Millburn Board of Education (BOE) next month, Jamie Serruto will officially be the youngest elected official in New Jersey.
Serruto, who turned 18 just before the general election in November, appeared yesterday morning on Fox News Channel to speak about his election. Speaking with TAPinto after yesterday's BOE meeting, Serruto elaborated about what the position and responsibility means to him, and much more.
WATCH SERRUTO'S FOX NEWS APPEARANCE HERE
"I think this is an extraordinary opportunity for me and for really youth at large," Serruto said. "Of course I'm honored to be able to serve in my role as one of the youngest elected officials in New Jersey as a member of the Millburn Board of Education. But I see this as a way for me to give back to my community and continue my service to my district.
"I felt that was prepared to take on this role from my experience and I look forward to making a positive impact. Getting attention from the national media is of course very exciting, and I'm glad to have inspired people. But I also want people to know that I am committed to working with my fellow board members...and fulfilling the duties prescribed of the office."
He said that while it was an incredible opportunity to appear on a program with such a widespread reach, it is still hard for him to wrap his mind around the fact that he will be sworn in as an elected official.
In order to meet the threshold for eligibility to run, Serruto went down to the wire, turning 18 just 16 days before the election. Running unopposed to fill the one-year remainder of a term, he received all but 17 of 2,618 ballots cast for his specific election.
However, despite his relatively young age, Serruto still feels that he can make an impact in the district, and that he looks forward to working with his fellow board members, even more so than as just the class of 2020 president.
"I have gone through the system K-12," Serruto said. "And I understood the path of a Millburn student. And I think I can bring a significant perspective and feedback on the processes from grade to grade and transitions.
"Serving as class president has been an honor, and I think serving on the board of education takes it to the next level, where I can bring my skills and my connections together to impact a larger reach."
Serruto also said that his interactions outside the classroom, in a community he has lived and worked his entire life make him a more civically-involved resident. "I've built great relationships with a lot of the different groups in town," Serruto said, emphasizing how it would help him to work with said groups to communicate and effectively utilize his role on the BOE.
"I feel that I have the skills to work together and to fulfill the role to the best of my ability," he said.
In his interview with TAP, Serruto also touched on the memory of his late grandfather Roy. Roy and his wife Doris were instrumental in the Millburn Community, serving across multiple civic and political organizations during their decades in town.
"I was fortunate to have Grandpa Roy around through the election," Serruto said. "He passed away one day after the election. And I hope that he's looking down on me and is proud for the legacy that I'm carrying on. Both Roy and my Grandmother Doris have been in town for over six decades and I think that our time in the township, our experiences will culminate to effective decision-making, with knowledge and experience to back up the decision-making."
While he will take office, Serruto is still a member of the student body. Having heard from members of the student body, Serruto said he will look to push for upgrades in the facilities at the school, fixes to aging infrastructure and other such programs, as well as revision in the curriculum for real-world learning, more meaningful assessments and more.
"We've moved in the right direction as a district, but students want to see upgrades," Serruto said. "And the students also want to see amendments to start times and scheduling in order to better accommodate both students and faculty, to get the most out of their days."
Wrapping up the interview, Serruto again thanked all those who supported him and said he was ready to get to work and collaborate with town residents to do the best job in his new role that he can.
"I appreciate the support of the community," Serruto said. "And I will try my best to perform the duties of the office of a boar of education member to the best of my abilities. And I want to be a force of positive energy, positive change and I want to work with everybody, because I believe that, we are stronger when we're working together."