HOWELL – A member of the Board of Education defeated in the November general election will end up remaining on the board for another year.
Members of the Board gathered for the second time at their new meeting place on the second floor of the township administration building to interview and select an unexpected vacancy on the board on Dec. 11.
During their November 20 meeting, the Board noted that newcomer candidate John Tate, who defeated incumbent Board member Laurence Gurman during the race, could not serve on the board due to professional responsibilities.
The four-candidate race saw a victory for Mark A. Bonjavanni and Cristy Mangano who won back their seats. Each candidate was vying for full 3-year term.
Mangano, 41, of Snow Chief Court received the highest number of votes with 4,993 capturing 29.6% of the vote on election night. The registered nurse has served one full term on the board while Bonjavanni, 65, of Salem Hill Road and who currently serves as the board’s president received 4,917 votes and 29.1% of the vote.
Tate, 37, of Christopher Drive received 4,046 votes in the election representing 24.0% of the vote total while Gurman, 76, received 2,933 votes and 17.4% of the vote count. He lives on South Westfield Road.
While he may have been defeated at the polls, Gurman will be taking the oath of office during the board’s reorganization meeting.
Board members went through the process of selecting a replacement for Tate during their Dec. 11 meeting. Applicants were reviewed by board members regarding their qualifications and experience to serve one year of the three-year- term that Tate was elected to.
Bonjavani said the board had the opportunity to “hear six wonderful candidates. The decision was made to select Mr. Gurman. He will be sworn in with Mrs. Mangano and myself on Jan 2.”
Gurman previously worked for the Office of Legislative Services and first served on the board in 1987. He remained on the board until 1996, serving as its vice-president for one year and was a member, at times, of the Education Committee, Finance Committee, Policy Committee, Community Relations Committee and Nutrition Committee.
“We heard from all six candidates to fill that one year position. We asked six questions and each candidate had a short time to respond during our second closed session,” Bonjavani said.
“For all six of the candidates who submitted their names. Thank you for your interest and serving this district. I encourage the five people who were not selected to stay involved,” Bonjavani said.
He noted that during the reorganization meeting when a board president is chosen, selections for citizen committees are made. “Even if you are not appointed to a committee, all of our meetings other than labor are open to everyone. You are welcome to show up at those meetings and be a voice.”
The citizen committees are made up of three citizens and three board members. “At those meeting board members and citizen members have an equal voice,” Bonjavani said. He added that current board members were members of citizen committees prior to their election to the board.
Board members also discussed pending legislation about exemptions of vaccines for religious reasons. If an amendment is passed it would be an immediate exemption allowing for students to opt out of vaccination which would cause a degree of complexity for the district according to officials. It passed in the Assembly but the Senate canceled a vote when it was clear that it didn’t have enough to pass.
On Jan. 21, from 6-8:20 p.m. the district’s Parent University program will be held at Middle School North. Further details will be made available to the public about that event. Thus far the program will include breakout sessions and Ian Hockley of Dylan’s Wings of Change will serve as presenter.
The district plans to introduce a new logo early in 2020. The logo contains a tree and the proof of the concept was used as inspiration by a parent in the district who is a graphics designer.
A slogan will be incorporated into the logo. Branding will start in the new year which will include letterhead and eventually some merchandise items.
During the meeting 13 middle school students were honored for their accomplishments as members of the middle school north and middle school south music bands. The Board also recognized those district staff who were retiring.
Noting that this was the last session of 2019, Bonjavani said, “over the last year at this table we have worked with cooperation with the administration and we also effected student achievement. I think we also have a lot to be proud of.”