Marlboro school board members decline to appoint any of five candidates to open seat

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MARLBORO – Members of the Marlboro K-8 School District Board of Education could not reach a consensus on Dec. 18 and did not appoint a resident to fill a vacant seat on the board.

District administrators said the vacancy will be re-advertised. Anyone who has already applied to serve will not need to reapply and will still be considered for the opening.

The vacancy occurred when board member Anisha Gizersky resigned in November. The individual who is appointed will serve during 2019. The final year of Gizersky’s term (2020) will be on the ballot in the November 2019 school election.

Five residents applied for the position. They were Tricia Branch, Nimish Doshi, Sara Harris Kreisler, Michelle Montecalvo and Michael Pico. A minimum of five votes was needed to receive the appointment and no one received five votes.

The candidates were interviewed in public during the board’s Dec. 18 meeting.

Branch has two children in the school system and said that what motivated her to seek a seat on the board “is my children. I’m also a taxpayer in town and that’s something to consider as well. I believe we have done a good job as a board, as a community, with the education. … Could we be better? Absolutely. I could learn more and more about the things you guys could do and add to that.

“I see the role of a board member as taking in information provided by the superintendent and understanding we are setting policy, doing communication, looking at budgets and being fiscally responsible. … We need to understand that we have to weigh doing what is right for our children with being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers,” Branch said.

Doshi said his biggest motivation is the curriculum committee. He said, “I would like our curriculum to be publicly available to everyone in a way that one doesn’t have to go through websites or go through portals. … to have it be something mailed out to parents for every grade as quickly as possible.

“We get our students to be prepared to meet that curriculum from day one. If we make everything a level playing field, so everyone knows what they have to do. The other thing is success. If we do things that our teachers, parents and students have done, then we become a model for other towns, not just our own.

“I think the No. 1 role of a board member is to listen to those around you, to be a liaison to the public, to be a voice for those who may not have had a voice in the past. It’s not about certain diversity groups or certain ethnic groups. … Any committee we have, we have certain standards and fiscal responsibilities and that we adhere to those standards and give ourselves a report card at the end of the year that we did what we were supposed to do,” Doshi said.

Kreisler told the board members during her interview that she believes “the children of Marlboro are of the utmost importance. I speak at board meetings about all the hot topics and everything that comes up on the agenda. I’m not trying to reinvent the board, I think the board has a great start. I think the board needs to be more fiscally responsible to the taxpayers and have more transparency.

“People want to see what you are doing, they want to know more about what you are doing and I want to help the board do that … To do my best to work cohesively with everybody on the board and to work well with the public. It’s important a board member comes off as personable, engaging and someone you look forward to working with,” Kreisler said.

Montecalvo has two children in the district. She said her 20 years of teaching experience “would allow me to complement the board and help look at mentorship, how we can work together and how we can truly benefit the children. I want us to have a partnership with the community and I am committed to that.

“We get emails and text messages about everything that happens with the township and we don’t get that with the school district. We need to communicate with members of the community and not just special interest groups like the elderly or our diverse population during voting times. It has to be continuous communication and a stronger plan.

“From a professional standpoint, we know that onboarding and retention of employees and human resources is a huge budgetary concern. I think we have to put in some value and appreciate the teachers we have and really think about how we are investing in them and investing in them long-term. How do we keep good, qualified teachers here and retained long-term so our onboarding costs are lower,” Montecalvo said.

During his interview with the board, Pico said, “I want to give back to the community. My wife is involved with our children in the schools … I did not have a lot of time due to job obligations over the last 20 years of living in Marlboro.

“This past summer I changed jobs. which allows me to have more time to give back and get involved. My background is a CFO in multiple companies. I would like to dig into a way to help with the district’s infrastructure. … To be fiscally responsible for educating the community and to be the voice to the public when it comes to educating our children.”

After interviewing the five candidates in public session, the seven board members who were present at the meeting went into an executive (closed) session to discuss the candidates. They subsequently returned to public session and announced that none of the five candidates had the support of five board members.