BRICK – The Dec. 14 Board of Education meeting marked the end of an era when, for the first time in over a decade, the most senior board member has served for only two years.
Two new board members, Jessica Clayton and Maria E. Foster, will take the oath of office in January. The women replace outgoing board member, Sharon Cantillo, who served for 13 years, and John Barton, who served one four-year term.
Cantillo did not run for re-election, and Barton ran but lost to the newcomers.
“With some sadness I would like to say something about our two departing board members,” began acting Superintendent Dennis Filippone at the meeting. For most of Cantillo’s 13-year tenure, Filippone was the principal at Brick High School.
“During that time I was able to see so many improvements to this building, from the science labs to the football stadium, to air conditioning and heating – all of those things, Ms. Cantillo was part of,” he said.
Cantillo advocated for naming the Warren H. Wolf Elementary School, which was “a very important thing to so many people, to honor a man who had done so much for our community,” which would not have happened without Cantillo’s efforts, Filippone said.
Cantillo said it had been a privilege and an honor to serve on the Board of Education, and praised Wolf for his guidance and his accomplishments.
“This has been a part of my life I will never forget. Thanks to the voters of Brick, that’s my legacy,” Cantillo said.
She said the school administration only gets one chance to make the best decisions for the students, who she called “a precious commodity.”
Barton was part of a committee who was instrumental in starting a “one-on-one” initiative where each student would have their own laptop computer, Filippone said.
“We’re very proud to say we are there now in the school district, and if not for his efforts – way back before he was a board member – that may not have happened,” Filippone said.
Barton has also been an important member of the Facilities Committee over the last couple of years, and Filippone praised Barton’s “attention to detail his willingness to put in the time and energy to help students and create better facilities in the district.
“I was really able to see it for the first time, being in central administration,” Filippone said.
Barton said it had been an honor and a privilege to serve, but he was “a little shocked” at the election results.
“Life goes on…you can’t please everyone when you’re in the public eye,” he said.
In other news, board member Melita Gagliardi said she and Board President John Lamela (who was absent) would recuse themselves from the search for a new district superintendent.
“Some conflicts have arisen based upon applicants that have responded to the job posting,” read Gagliardi from a prepared statement.
Lamela had contacted school boards to discuss the matter as well as the board attorney, and as a result, Gagliardi said that they would not be involved with regard to the superintendent search as long as the conflict of interest exists.
Both Gagliardi and Lamela are employed by the Jackson School District.
The next Board meeting will be the Reorganization Meeting on January 4, 2018 at 7 p.m. at Brick High School.