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Former school board member appointed to open seat in Freehold Township

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – A former member of the Freehold Township K-8 School District Board of Education has been selected by sitting board members to fill an open seat on the panel.

On July 26, Michael Matthews was appointed to the board to serve for the remainder of 2022. Matthews will succeed Debra Costanza, who resigned on June 28 because she was no longer a resident of Freehold Township.

Because the term Costanza was serving was set to expire at the end of the year, it will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot as a full three-year term. There will be three three-year terms on the ballot and seven residents are running for those terms.

Matthews previously served on the board from 2018-20.

During the July 26 meeting, Matthews, Renata Brand, Faith Edwards and Catherine Saluccio were interviewed by the sitting board members regarding their interest in the open seat.

Matthews said he is a public educator with certifications in mathematics and psychology.

“In my capacity, I have been part of numerous curriculum committees, so I am well versed in the process of writing curriculum,” he said. “Given the (board) position and the time frame for which this position is going to exist, the experience I bring (as a former member) would be beneficial to the board because I am well versed in how things run and I feel I am capable of working well with everybody on the board.”

Brand said she is a retired certified public accountant with more than 40 years of experience in preparation, auditing, financial analysis and tax returns.

“I am interested (in serving) because I love children,” she said. “I have four grown children and eight beautiful grandchildren. (My children) are all happy and successful. I want that for all children and I would like to help them be happy and successful. I just have a caring for children and I want to be able to help them.”

Edwards said she has a background in case management.

“With my background in case management, I have always had an interest in families and children,” she said. “My care for children and especially my daughter being in the school district made me want the option to be on the board.”

Saluccio said she has worked with U.S. Customs and Border Protection for 23 years and is currently a manager for a partnership program in Customs that deals with the trade and is focused on anti-terrorism and security.

“I have two young children (in elementary school),” she said. “I want to make sure I can give my kids the best education possible. I want to make sure we focus on subjects that are important for the future.

“I want to improve, for everyone, transparency between the board, the parents and the community. I want to ensure parental rights are being respected. I want to make sure the safety and security of the students and staff is improved. I want to use my knowledge, skills and expertise to help our town,” Saluccio said.

Following the interviews with the four candidates, the board members went into executive (closed) session to discuss the appointment.

After the board members returned before the public, President Michelle Lambert, Vice President Michael Amoroso, Mary Cozzolino, Elena O’Sullivan, Jennifer Patten, Meg Thomann and Kerry Vendittoli voted “yes” on a motion to appoint Matthew. Neil Garguilo voted “no” on the motion.

Regarding the Nov. 8 election, the seven candidates who are running for the three available Freehold Township school board seats are Matthews, O’Sullivan, Patten, Brand, Edwards, Angela Barbella and Jeffrey Williams.

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