Following an April 27 election in which voters handily returned two incumbent trustees to their spots at the dais and a half dozen write-in candidates battled for a vacant third seat on the Glen Rock Board of Education, the new-look school board met for the first time Monday night.
Robin Rubinstein, who won the election to a 3-year term as trustee by more than 60 votes, was seated on the left of the long, u-shaped table in the Dario Valcarcel, Jr. Media Center between Board Member Gene Calderon and Student Representative Sarah Smick.
Rubinstein is replacing Bill Clark, who completed 2 terms as trustee and opted not to run for the seat.
The board presented the official vote counts as certified by the Bergen County Board of Elections:Incumbents: Vote Total: Rona McNabola 1111 Randi Blumberg
1184 Write In Candidates: Vote Total: Stuart Pologe 10 Robert Burslem 46 Robert Bourne 123 Sue Vadeika 188 Albert Tarleton 346 Robin Rubinstein 412 School Budget Proposition Vote Total: Yes 1306 No 810
In addition to putting a bow on elections and the vote on a $40 million budget that, at times, seemed to bring relations between the board and teachers' union to a boiling point, the Monday evening meeting saw passage of general resolutions choosing Aramark from among 5 proposals for custodial outsourcing and authorizing Business Administrator Michael Rinderknecht to begin advertising for "bids for the services of teachers' assistants."
The board awarded Philadelphia-based Aramark the contract for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years at the cost of $1,063,041 per school year.
While many of the trustees acted in concert on a majority of resolutions brought to a vote, Rubinstein and Board Member Randi Blumberg voted against General Resolution 8, which authorizes Rinderknecht to begin the process that would likely lead to the outsourcing teachers' assistants.
"I was not a member of the board, so I was not privy to any discussions that went on when talking about outsourcing of teachers' aides," Rubinstein said. "But I have attended a lot of board of ed meetings, I've heard all the public comment ... and I've come to the conclusion that I could not support outsourcing of the teachers' aides at this time."
The lager-than-average audience at the meeting erupted into applause and calls of 'Thank you" when Rubinstein finished her statement. Blumberg made a similar comment before the vote, as well.
"Consistent with my views that I voiced for months now," she said before voting against Resolution 8. " I cannot bring myself to vote to support this in anyway."
Despite their opposition, the resolution passed.
Standing Up for Sarah Welence
Another standout from the meeting Monday was effusive community support for Sarah Welence, a teacher at Central who may not be reappointed next school year.
Person after person — parents and colleagues alike — stood at the microphone to tell the board stories about what a difference Welence has made in the school.
Karen Mitchell, who said she has been a substitute for Welence's class in the past and knew the fourth grade teacher well, called her "one of the best teachers I've ever had the opportunity to work with."
Others called Welence "sympathetic," "experienced," "a dream come true," and said that "letting her go would be a travesty."
As voice after voice came to the podium, School Superintendent David Verducci said he had recommended that the board postpone finalization of teacher reappointments while he and trustees try to more clearly define what staffing needs would be in the future.
"Because of a better balance in enrollment procedures we will have 3 less elementary sections next year," Verducci said, adding that the changes had saved more than $300,000 in this year's budget.
"We find ourselves in a position where we cannot, at this time, reappoint all the individuals we'd like to," he said.
The board withdrew the reappointment resolution, and moving forward would reevaluate the list of returning teachers.
"[This will] give us a little bit of extra time to go through that and see what we can do," Verducci said to the audience. But, "That's not a promise for Mrs. Welence nor any individual teacher."