MARLBORO – Robyn Wolfe has been elected president of the Marlboro K-8 School District Board of Education for the next year.
The board held its reorganization meeting on Jan. 2, during which Anisha Gizersky, Vlad Goldfarb and Susan Shrem were sworn in to begin serving the three-year terms they won in the Nov. 7 election.
After Gizersky, Goldfarb and Shrem were seated, nominations were made for the position of board president.
Board member Stephen Shifrinson nominated Wolfe for president and there were no other nominations. On a roll call, Wolfe was elected by a 7-2 vote.
Robert Daniel, Randy Heller, Gizersky, Goldfarb, Shifrinson, Shrem and Wolfe voted for yes. Dara Enny and Ellen Xu voted no and commented on why they did so.
Enny said, “One of the most important things we need to see in the board and the board’s leadership is transparency. … How can I vote for a president who didn’t let the entire board know she was running?
“Obviously she didn’t care about my support nor was she interested in giving me the opportunity to discuss any ideas or concerns I might have. The president has to be available to all board members and be willing to listen to their concerns.
“If you are not transparent or open and honest with your intentions with the current and incoming board members or interested in their concern, how can we expect that you will be open and honest and transparent with the community?
“This board needs a leadership style where we have a president of the board. Based on the lack of communication thus far, I’m not sure that’s going to happen. … I am also philosophically and fundamentally opposed to not only an NJEA (New Jersey Education Association) member, but a union representative for a school serving as board president. Not only can it be controversial, but to me it is a conflict,” Enny said.
Xu said, “I agree with what (Enny) said and I did not know (Wolfe was) running for president. I have the same concerns she stated, that we need transparency. Over the past few years, we had a lot of talks about transparency and people have been talking about transparency in the community.
“However, in this case, I didn’t see transparency in terms of running as president or vice president. I don’t know who is running for vice president either. In terms of the conflict, I have the same concerns. I’m not trying to attack anyone, but maybe you guys had a conversation about it and you cleared some things up about it, but I have the same concerns and I have to vote no,” Xu said.
The board’s attorney, Marc Zitomer, said, “It is not a conflict of interest under the Ethics Act to have a board member also be an NJEA member or to be an officer as a member of the NJEA. If your point is that you may feel like there may be an appearance of an issue, that’s a different story, but it is not an actual conflict of interest.”
After Wolfe was elected president, she said, “I believe it is important to have strong, working relationships among the dedicated administrators, teachers, support staff and the superintendent. We will continue to work on community relationships with all stakeholders.
“I believe our board is dedicated to delivering the best possible education to every student in our community. I have a child in 12th grade and one in eighth grade and both of them have received wonderful educations in Marlboro. The board serves as a policy making committee for the district. … I believe we can work together to achieve more. ‘Team’ really means ‘together everyone achieves more.’
“I am excited to work with our new board members who will come with fresh ideas and excitement to serve and I believe we will be able to accomplish a lot if we work together. We need to continue to work on a long-term vision. There have been many accomplishments over the last few years and I know coming forward we will have many more.
“Building public understanding, support and participation is vital. By working together, we can all share in the knowledge and satisfaction that we have provided for the education needs of all students and have built a district where students, parents, teachers and staff feel they are welcome and they belong,” Wolfe said.
Heller was then nominated by Shifrinson to serve as vice president and elected in the same 7-2 vote by which Wolfe was elected.
Heller said, “As a board member for the last year, I have strived to make decisions on what is best for current and future students. As a devoted father of my four children, three of whom are enrolled in this school system and our fourth just a few years away, I am passionate about ensuring the best for them and the children in the community.
“In my opinion, a good leader possesses several characteristics; open-mindedness, decisiveness, the ability to adapt and being a forward thinker. I decided to seek this leadership position so that I may work closely and collaboratively with the board president, my other esteemed colleagues, (Superintendent) Dr. (Eric) Hibbs, administrators and other stakeholders while in a lead role. I am hoping to create a healthy dialogue where opposing views can be heard.
“I am hoping for efficiency and transparency within our committees and that long- and short-term plans are developed to such areas, but not limited to curriculum, maintenance and counseling. I am confident in the direction of this board and I am very hopeful over this coming year,” Heller said.
The board honored three individuals who concluded their service to the board in December – Joanne Liu-Rudel, Craig Marshall and Debbie Mattos. Liu-Rudel and Marshall served on the board for three years and Mattos served on the board for three-and-a-half years.