SPRINGFIELD, NJ - With the start of the new year, the Board of Education held its reorganizational meeting on Monday night, January 8th. The meeting started with Matt Clark, the School Administrator and Board Secretary announcing the results of the November election. Marc Miller and Kristi Garamekian won 2 uncontested seats. The third open seat was awarded to Laura Rubin, the write-in candidate with 335 votes.

Then, the first order of business was to have all the new members sworn into office. Once the Board was “official”, last year’s Vice President, Scott Silverstein was nominated and voting in as the Board’s new President for 2018. Mr. Silverstein then nominated Marc Miller to be the Vice President and the Board voted in affirmation.

The 2018 Board consists of:

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Scott Silverstein (previous Vice President, current President)

Marc Miller (current Vice President

Robin Cornelison (previous President)

Scott Donner

Hector Munoz

Jacqueline Shanes

Hillary Turnbull

Kristy Rubin

Laura Gamarekian (write-in candidate/winner)

It was announced that the Policy Manual, which has been in the process of being revised over the past 18 months will continue to be worked on. Old policies are being revised and new policies are being adopted. The final piece of business was to vote on a series of business matters. All motions were passed without discussion and with full consent. Finally, President Silverstein appointed Scott Donner to continue on the Union County Education Services Board, representing the Springfield school district.

The meeting then moved into a Regular Meeting session. First up, Scott Silverstein, on behalf of the entire Board, presented a plaque to Robin Cornelison in recognition of a job well done as the Board President throughout 2017. During the Superintendent’s report, Superintendent Davino also expressed his respect for Mrs.Cornelison’s tenure as President, as well as Mr. Wolcott, a long time Board member whose seat just expired at the end of last year.

Additionally, Mr. Davino mentioned that a safety review, involving a young student, is currently under way - but stopped short of giving any details because it is still an ongoing investigation. However, the parent, Samantha Kestin, had already made the incident public on a town’s Facebook page, and during the public comment session detailed it for the record: School bus #30 dropped off  her 4 year old daughter (a student at Walton) in front of their house, and immediately drove away before confirming that the child was safely transferred to the parent. The driveway was snowy and icy and the temperature was below freezing. In talking to the Aide after-the-fact, Mrs. Kestin indicated that the Aide said she was apologetic, and thought the front door was open (and assumed she was there to welcome her child).

The Kestins provided video from their porch security camera to back-up the story. Mr. Davino asked for as much video as was available, as it would be helpful in the investigation. The child’s mother said she would not allow her child on the bus as long as that same Aide was working on it, whereas she had acted negligently and would prefer if that Aide was transferred elsewhere. A police report was also filed.

Another issue Mrs. Kestin brought to the Board’s attention was regarding her older son. She claimed that the bus he rode on to the Middle School did not have any heat, the windows were left open (possibly broken), and there was snow on the seat (causing her son’s pants and shirt to get wet), again - all in sub-freezing temperatures. The Board will be investigating both issues with the bus company.

In other business, Vito Gagliardo one of the Board’s attorneys, gave an “ethics review”. He stated case studies and quizzed the members on proper ethical behavior. Members will be required to take mandatory ethics training and they will all receive ongoing newsletters and updates.

Board members were asked to submit their requests for committee placement, and President Silverstein will decide who gets appointed where.

To end the meeting, the Board entered into close session to discuss items protected by attorney/client privilege. No actions were to be taken.

The next meeting is scheduled for January 22nd.

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