GARWOOD — The Garwood Board of Education swore in three reelected members —Albert DelConte, Christine Guerriero and Kristen Meza — for new, three-year terms during the board’s annual reorganization meeting on January 2.
April Farrell was re-nominated for board president along with Ms. Guerriero. Ms. Farrell was ultimately voted in for another term after a narrow 5-to-4 vote. Maureen Crawford, Ms. Farrell, Ms. Meza, Tina Simitz and Jennifer Suva voted for Ms. Farrell, while Mr. DelConte, Ms. Guerriero, Sal Piarulli and Linda Koeing voted for Ms. Guerriero.
Ms. Crawford was the only board member nominated for the position of vice president; however, she still received three no votes from Ms. Guerriero, Ms. Koeing and Mr. Piarulli during the roll call.
During public comment, resident Bruce Paterson addressed the board, asking if members would consider extending residents’ comments from three minutes to five minutes.
Board member Jennifer Uva agreed that the board should have open and honest dialogue with the public but felt that three minutes was a fair enough time allotment.
“Unless there are other large topics, we can consider that then, but I don’t think right now it needs to be extended,” she said.
However, Mr. Piarulli disagreed and felt the board should not put limits on how long residents can talk, but go by person to person and see what their comments and concerns are and how many they have. Mr. Piarulli suggested the board come up with a form of a policy that does not limit freedom of speech but states that public comment has to relate to the board, district, curriculum, or anything else involving Garwood schools.
“What we’ve seen way too much of is those public comments were used to put forth a political agenda,” he said, “which they should not be able to do; we’re here to answer questions and to clarify things being thrown around.”
The board decided to bring this issue to the policy committee and hopefully develop a solution that will satisfy both residents and the board of education.