JACKSON – Scott Sargent took the oath of office and returned to the Board during a recent Board of Education meeting.
“Thank you to the School Board for allowing me back,” Sargent said. He was chosen among several candidates who applied for consideration to fill the unexpired term of Vicki Grasso who resigned from the board in August. He previously served on the board for six years.
The returning board member said his goal is to represent all the taxpayers of Jackson and not just individual groups. Among his goals are to explore ways to increase efficiency in all areas and to ensure the safety and security of the district’s students and staff.
Choosing a new board member involves interviews of each applicant by members of the board and their being chosen through a board member vote.
Most of the board had served with Sargent before his defeat at the polls last November to Gus Acevedo. Before that he served several years as the board’s president.
While the vote was unanimous to appoint Sargent, Board Vice President Sharon Dey specifically referenced the ongoing superintendent search to replace current superintendent Dr. Stephen Genco, as one of the reasons why Sargent would prove to be an important asset to the board.
Genco announced his retirement at the same meeting that Grasso had announced her resignation. The Board has embarked on its search to fill this position. Applications are due by Dec. 9, 2019. “Scott’s work ethic is impeccable and his experience is critical now during our superintendent search,” Dey said.
“I’ve done two superintendent searches and our institution is at a critical turning point right now. It is important to have someone with his (Sargent’s) skill set to assist us,” Dey said.
“I worked with him and he really showed me the ropes,” Board President John Burnetsky said.
Board member Thomas Colucci also acknowledged Sargent’s experience and work ethic while Board members Tara Rivera and Michael Walsh noted his experience with teacher contract negotiations.
Even Acevedo, who had bested Sargent in the election, voted for him because of the experience he would bring to the board at a very crucial time. Acevedo had previously served on the board, and had returned after winning the election.
Board members also honored Troop 34 Eagle Scout Joseph Kane during the meeting for his Eagle Scout Project of a Gaga Court at the Holman Elementary School.
Kane was joined by his parents Renee and Joseph Kane Sr. as Burnetsky presented him a proclamation of thanks early in the meeting. “Tonight, we get to celebrate a young man who has spent a great deal of time and effort to bring a great deal of joy to the students of Holman Elementary School,” Burnetsky said.
Burnetsky said, “Joseph Kane is in 10th grade now, but not long ago he was a 5th grader at Holman Elementary School. A dedicated Boy Scout, when it came time for him to choose a project as part his effort to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, he remembered where he came from.”
“He collaborated with Principal Richard Karas and came up with an idea to build a Gaga Pit at his old elementary school. After researching and creating his own plans, he used recycled pieces of the Point Pleasant boardwalk and his own two hands to create something that the students of Holman have been using every single day since,” Burnetsky said.
Burnetsky explained what a Gaga Pit was saying, “it is an octagon shaped arena where students try to eliminate each other by rolling a ball and tagging each other out. It’s fast-paced, fun, and teachers say it is a great recess activity because it is inclusive and engaging. Anyone can play, and anyone can win.”
The Board, administrators, staff and members of the audience had the opportunity to observe Kane’s work through a video presentation that was shown next.
“It is so beautifully done and is being well used. Teachers at Holman say the students run outside to play it and don’t want to stop. I’d like to thank Principal Karas for working with Joseph as he created this project. We are so happy to recognize Joseph for not only his efforts to provide this amazing feature to our school, but for showing us all the value of community service and giving back. This is the true gift,” Burnetsky said.
Acevedo added, “what you accomplished is a mile marker. We are proud of what you did and what you represent. Very few step forward like this.”