Newly-elected Hopatcong Board of Education member Judith Antonelli said Wednesday she wants to challenge the board to become more engaged with the public, including broadcasting meetings on the Internet.
Antonelli topped a crowded field Tuesday, winning a three-year term on the Hopatcong Board of Education. She ousted incumbent Joan S. Reilly.
Incumbents Clifford Lundin and Dolores Krowl were re-elected, according to unofficial results released by the Sussex County Clerk’s Office.
The entire slate of candidates seeking three-year term seats were Krowl, Lundin, Reilly, Antonelli, John H. Maine and Quashinna Williams.
Antonelli was the top-vote-getter of the six candidates with 2,531, followed by Lundin with 2,454 votes; Krowl, 2,066; Reilly, 2,027; Maine, 1,655, and Williams, 1,181.
She said the board should broadcast its meetings over such media as YouTube or a local television station, and encouraged greater board member participation at school events where they would have an opportunity to engage parents.
Hot-button issues ranged from tight budgets, reduced state aid and regaining public support for the K-12 district.
Residents complained about the drop in ranking of the Hopatcong schools in the annual New Jersey Monthly list. Hopatcong dropped 89 spots.
They also raised concerns about school programs when 21 students applied to attend Lenape Valley Regional High School in Stanhope, a district designated as a choice school under a revised state program.
“I’m very happy,” Antonelli said, as she thanked voters for their support.
She comes to the board with 25 years of public education experience as a teacher and administrator from kindergarten to grade 12.
Antonelli said one of her strengths is analysis of how organizations function, and to that end she would work to have the board examine its procedures and decision-making processes to ensure better results.
An educator with 27 years of experience, Antonelli currently teaches third grade in the Roxbury school district.
Lundin, an attorney who has been on the school board for more than seven years, said the state budget cuts hurt, but the district has worked hard to spend the budget appropriately.
To offset the decrease in aid, Lundin said, the district would seek to reduce its electric bill. The installation of a 6-acre solar panel field has cut the district’s electric costs $3 million over the next 15 years, he said. The district is paying 5 cents per kilowatt hour for solar powered electricity that supplies all but the Hudson Maxim School.
Lundin said those savings have allowed the district to make some needed repairs and take on some long-delayed purchases like textbooks. The district spent $500,000 on new textbooks to replace some that were 15 to 20 years old, he said.
Krowl, who has served on the board for six years, said it has been actively addressing the key issues before it, especially perceptions the district is failing its students.
A secretary in the Tewksbury school district, Krowl said the 2012 budget, crafted with a state aid cut of $724,329, resulted in the loss of 29 teaching jobs.
The board’s response was to examine how the district operated and shuffled its principals to different schools as it hired a new high school principal. That move, she said, allows the principals in their new jobs in lower grade schools, to use their knowledge of the demands of upper grades to vertically coordinate curriculum across the district.