By Matthew Sockol
MILLSTONE – A former member of the Millstone Township K-8 School District Board of Education has been appointed to fill a vacant seat on the panel.
On April 11, Salvatore Casale was sworn in to serve for the remainder of 2016. He will take over the term that was previously being served by John Saxton. In March, Saxton resigned from the board due to health reasons.
Casale, a product manager in financial services at Merrill Lynch, previously served on the board from 2008-14. He has been a resident of Millstone for 17 years.
Amrita Singh, a senior manager in business operations at the contract research organization Covance, and Shannon Pulaski, an attorney, also applied for the position. Singh has been a Millstone resident for six years and Pulaski has been a Millstone resident for 17 years.
Each candidate made a statement about why they sought the open seat and were interviewed in public session by the board that evening.
Casale said he believed he could make a difference in the district, keep tax increases as low as possible while increasing the number of programs in the district, and work on improving the relationship between Millstone and the Upper Freehold Regional School District.
Millstone and the Upper Freehold Regional School District have a send-receive relationship in which high school students who reside in Millstone attend Allentown High School in the regional district.
“I see Millstone rising above other schools,” Casale said. “It could really differentiate itself.”
Singh said she is concerned about the environment children are educated in, is an independent thinker, can bring the community together and is skilled at upholding confidentiality.
Serving on the board “would give me the opportunity to be part of something bigger,” Singh said.
Pulaski said she thought highly of the Millstone school district, would help increase the district’s reputation, believed it was important for board members to listen to and process opinions before speaking, and was skilled at managing time.
“I want to be part of the community that makes a difference,” Pulaski said. “I would ensure we could continue to rise in the rankings.”
After the candidates made their statements and were interviewed, the board members went into executive (closed) session to discuss the candidates. When the meeting returned to public session, all three names were placed in nomination to fill the open seat.
Board President Margaret Gordon and board members Cynthia Bailey, David DePinho, Billy Hanson and Melissa Riviello voted for Casale.
Board members Amy Jacobson and John Sico voted for Singh.
Board Vice President Kevin McGovern voted for Pulaski.
Casale was appointed on the strength of receiving five votes. The seat he holds will be on the Nov. 8 ballot for a one-year term in 2017.
In other business, McGovern announced that the board’s meetings will be broadcast on public access cable television.
The announcement was made following the receipt of a petition that called on the board to restore the meetings to public viewing. Until 2016, meetings were posted in their entirety on YouTube, but according to McGovern, there was difficulty in uploading the video footage.
McGovern explained that the meetings had previously been shown on public access, but suffered from sound problems due to the board only having one microphone, which members did not always use while speaking. With individual microphones currently provided to board members and district administrators, McGovern said that sound would not be an issue.