BRICK – New Board of Education members Michael Blandina and Melissa Parker took their oaths of office during the district’s reorganization meeting, held on January 7.
It was a tight race this year, with Parker receiving the most votes at 13,543. There was a court-ordered recount after tallies in the November election showed just a two-vote difference between Blandina and incumbent Jessica Clayton.
The final vote tally after the recount was 12,977 for Blandina and 12,963 for Clayton.
The meeting was held in person at the Professional Development Center, but due to the COVID pandemic, capacity was limited to 25 people.
Blandina and Parker were told they could bring family members for their swearing-in, so attendance was at capacity since there were already 17 Board members and administrators in attendance.
Parker said it was “surreal” she was being sworn into office exactly one year after she was attending a rally in Toms River to oppose S-2, a NJ State Senate bill that modified school funding and eliminated adjustment aid for Brick and other districts.
“My mom once told me that no one will ever advocate for your kids the way you will,” she said. “Those words have always stuck with me my entire career as a mom,” said Parker, who has four children.
She thanked her friends, family, the Brick community, superintendent Dr. Thomas Farrell, the administration and other Board members for their support.
“We have work to do, and I’m eager to jump in and be a dedicated member to this team,” Parker said. “As my six-year old likes to say, ‘Let’s get this party started’.”
Blandina thanked the two outgoing Board members, Jessica Clayton and Maria Foster.
“I consider myself a Brick Township boy,” he said. “I grew up in this town, went through the school system, learned a lot over the years, seen the school district grow, and learned a lot about what didn’t grow over that time.”
Blandina, who chairs the Columbus Day parade in Seaside Heights, is a former chair of the Democratic club and Secretary of the MUA. He expressed confidence, going forward, in Dr. Farrell, School Business Administrator James Edwards and the administration.
“I’m sure we’re being steered in the right direction for what’s to come, and what we can do and what we have to do,” he said. “I’m ready to go to work with this team up here.”
He also expressed his thanks to the voters of Brick Township for putting their faith in him.
During the Reorganization meeting, Stephanie Wohlrab agreed to serve as Board of Education President for a second year, and Melita Gagliardi agreed to serve as the Board’s Vice-President for a second term.
“We have two new great Board members that bring such wonderful new points of view, visions, backgrounds to the Board, so we continue to be a great team,” Wohlrab said.
Wohlrab said that over the past weeks, Parker and Blandina had been asking questions, meeting with Dr. Farrell and the administration, and had received their Board packets.
“Like all of us, your hearts are in the right place, you’re here for a reason – it’s about making the district better for our children, for our staff, teachers and administrators, and everyone in our community,” she said. “We’re all on the same page.”
The next Board of Education meeting will be on Thursday, January 21 at 7 p.m.