The nine-member Glen Rock school board was shaken up considerably Monday night with the appointment of Sheldon Hirschberg as board president.
The long-time resident and three-year board member overcame former board president Rona McNabola in a 5-4 vote at the reorganization meeting. Barbara Steuert, sworn in to another term on Monday, will remain as vice president. Gene Calderon and Liz Carr were also sworn in.
It was the board's newest member, Carr, who made a big splash at the reorganization meeting. The trustee nominated Hirschberg. He then received additional votes from himself, Robin Rubenstein, Randi Blumberg and Carlo Cella, securing the title as board president.
The change in leadership comes during a period of unique challenges in Glen Rock. Interim Superintendent Ray Albano announced his resignation on Monday and a permanent replacement for ex-schools chief David Verducci remains elusive after nine months. The board is also right in the middle of budget crafting season.
"My general thought is it is what it is," McNabola said Tuesday, adding that others asked her to step aside quietly but she rebuffed. "I'm a member of the board and I still have the same one vote as everyone else has. My whole thing is what's best for the district and I thought myself being president, continuing until we settled on a new superintendent, was important for consistency."
Hirschberg says he has an "excellent relationship" with McNabola and considers her a "mentor".
"The practice on the board in the past two decades is that the president stays for a couple years and rotates out. I don't think anyone had any issues with Rona but some on the board I guess thought we should continue that protocol."
Finding a permanent superintendent remains a priority, he said.
Fortunately, according to Hirschberg, the district is in good shape financially and academically.
"I want to continue the successess the board has had," he told Patch.
The charter of the board is to ensure academic success for students while keeping taxes as low as possible, Hirschberg said. The district has set the goal of keeping taxes from rising more than 1 percent in 2013-2014.
"What we've been able to do in the last few years is to make sure the money is going into the educational programs," he remarked. "But there are ways to be more efficient. If we can do that, we can be successful."
Though disappointed her tenure as board president has come to an end, McNabola said she's available to lend a hand if need be.
"Shel has not been the officer of the board before, so it'll be a learning curve," she said. "Hopefully I was a good role model on running the board. He knows I'm available if he ever has any questions."