Millburn’s Board of Education changed leadership at Tuesday's reorganization meeting, electing Jeff Waters as president and Rona Wenik as vice president for a one-year term with an unusual debate.
Nominations followed the two recently elected members, Dr. Rupali Wadhwa and Raymond Wong, and incumbent Dr. Eric Siegel being sworn in to their seats on the board. The three were elected in November's election.
For board president, Regina Truitt nominated Jeff Waters and Jean Pasternak nominated Lise Chapman.
However, in an unprecedented nomination procedure, according to Truitt, Pasternak and Wadhwa asked the board members to explain the candidate’s qualifications before voting.
Pasternak started the discussion asking Waters and Chapman how they would handle committee assignments.
Both said they would consider board members' interests and consult with the vice president and the superintendent to make a decision.
Outgoing president Michael Birnberg said, “it is a worthless question” because both would have to follow the board laws as president.
Wadhwa explained, since she was new to the board, knowing more about Waters' and Chapman’s qualifications would help her make an informed vote. She then asked Pasternak and Truitt to explain why they nominated the candidates.
Pasternak read a prepared list of Chapman’s qualifications, which included chair of finance committee, and her service on personnel, program and communications committee.
Truitt explained she was not expecting to present a candidate with a list of their qualifications but wouldn’t have nominated Waters if he weren’t qualified.
She added, “Thank you for asking these questions but I’ve been attending board meetings for over six years, attended many of these nomination procedures and I have never ever had these kind of proceedings going for positive or for negative.”
Board member Dr. Eric Siegel said, “To be honest everyone at this table is qualified to be president. Personally I think this is just an exercise in filibustering.” He then asked the board to vote.
Waters won, 5-3, with votes from himself, Birnberg, Rona Wenik, Siegel and Truitt. Chapman received votes from herself, Pasternak and Wadwha. Raymond Wong abstained.
Waters replaced board member Birnberg, who served the last two years as board president.
Following the board president’s election, Pasternak nominated Chapman for vice president and Siegel nominated Wenik.
Chapman also lost to Wenik, 5-3. The votes for vice president broke down the same.
At the end of the meeting, Birnberg said, every member is only 11 percent of the board regardless of whether they are president or vice president. He said it is each board member's obligation to be effective no matter what seat he or she is in.