On December 7, the Council Rock School Board held a special reorganization meeting after Democrats flipped the board from red to blue during municipal elections.
The new board members sworn in were Democrats Tracey Osecki, Linda Stone, and Nicole Khan along with Republican Anne Horner.
Also sworn in were Democrat Ed Tate and Republican Joe Hidalgo, both of whom were reelected in November. Osecki, Stone, Khan, and Tate made up the “Together For Council Rock” slate, a group of Democratic candidates that ran for school board director positions throughout Council Rock.
Ultimately, the election of those aforementioned four candidates in addition to current school board director Yota Palli was enough for Democrats to secure the majority on the 9-person school board. Horner, Hidalgo, and board directors Michael Roosevelt, and Bob Hickey make up the board’s Republican block.
In a statement provided to NewtownPANow.com, Together For Council Rock previewed their vision for the district.
“Our candidates ran as a slate, united by a desire to ensure all Council Rock students have the support and skills they need to thrive and become successful adults,” they said.
“The slate committed to concentrating the school board on the real challenges facing our schools, not manufactured culture wars that do nothing but incite division. The incoming board members have made clear that they plan to focus on kids, not politics.”
One of the first orders of business at the reorganization meeting was electing a board president and vice president. Democrat Yota Palli was elected president while Democrat Ed Tate was elected vice president.
Both were voted in via 5-4 party-line votes, with Republican school board director Mike Roosevelt falling just short after being nominated for both positions.
After Palli was elected board president, she laid out her vision for Council Rock, including some of the initiatives she’d like the board to work on.
“I’m honored to be the next president of the Council Rock School Board, I know it’s a great responsibility. In recent days, I have spoken with a majority of my board colleagues. We have discussed a shared vision for our work which seems to be falling into three categories.”
“Number one, educational excellence, number two, student well-being, and number three, communication and transparency. As examples of that, we want to explore the possibility of full-day kindergarten and modernizing the high school schedule including the start time.”
She continued, “We want to hold serious discussions about bullying and student safety. That would include addressing inclusion which is making sure that all students feel welcome and respected. We are also serious about ensuring that all students have the opportunity to excel.”
“Finally, we must recognize that as a board member, each of us is just one of nine votes to be effective. We must work together as a team with Dr. Sanko and the administration to achieve success.”
Palli takes over from former board president Ed Salamon, who narrowly lost his reelection bid last month. Superintendent Dr. Andrew Sanko took time during the meeting to recognize Salamon and the other outgoing board members as well as wishing luck to the new directors.
“Thank you to our returning board members for your continued dedication to keeping students first always, and thank you to the departing board members for their contributions of time, expertise, and commitment to the district over the past years,” he said.
“Board service is a volunteer position and the reward comes from the work you do for children. All board members past and present are stewards of the excellence Council Rock is known for and visionaries for the district’s future. So to our new directors, welcome.”
Several members of the community also weighed in via public comment at the meeting, giving advice and wishing the board luck as it embarks on a new calendar year under new leadership. This included former Council Rock School Board Director Jerry Grupp.
“I served on this board for almost 20 years and I just want to bring you little bits of advice. This board works most efficiently when each member looks at each item on its own value and assesses the value of each item and votes according to their own will and the input of their community.”
“It’s not about coalitions, it’s about putting students and the community first. So you may vote with somebody on one item and may vote against them on the other but please keep the focus on topics and not on personalities. I wish you all the best as we begin a new era in Council Rock.”