Home » HVRSD BOE has unexpected vacant seat – deadline to apply for it is Monday 1/22

HVRSD BOE has unexpected vacant seat – deadline to apply for it is Monday 1/22

by Amie Rukenstein

What seemed to be a routine reorganization meeting for the Hopewell Valley Regional School District Board of Education on January 3 took a surprise turn when recently re-elected member Andrea Driver announced she would not be able to accept the position after all.

The meeting was opened by Robert Colavita, Jr., assistant superintendent for business and board secretary, who chaired the meeting ahead of election of officers. Colavita explained that the seats that had openings in 2023 were all for Hopewell Township representatives to the Board, of which three were three-year terms (held in 2023 by Andrea Driver, Anita Williams Galiano, and Pamela Lilleston) and one was a one-year term (held in 2023 by Adam Sawicki who retired from the Board). Colavita stated that of 15,144 registered voters in the Township, 5,016, or 33.1% voted in 12 voting districts with the following candidates winning the seats:

Three year term:
Andrea Driver with 2,681 votes
Anita Williams Galiano with 2,423 votes
Pamela Lilleston with 2,180 votes

One year term:
Dhruv Kapadia with 2,113 votes.

As Colavita was about to ask the group to stand to take the oath of office, Driver asked for a moment to make a statement.  Through tears, she said:

“Serving on the Hopewell Valley School District’s Board of Education has brought me great pride. I am not only a graduate of the District, but also one who attended my entire public school career from kindergarten to twelfth grade. This community has impacted not only me, but also my parents, as they are District graduates who chose to raise me here. In turn, I also raised my own daughters here and they are graduates of this phenomenal District. It is an understatement to say that I have a passion and vested interest in this District, its staff its students. While serving on the Board I have had the pleasure of working alongside some amazing professionals. Together, we navigated the post-pandemic environment, giving our staff and students a safe place to work and learn. And after having the same superintendent for twelve years, we conducted the all-important superintendent search, which appointed the one and only, dynamic Dr. Treece. We have had the unique opportunity to make history as we served together. All this being said, it is with great regret that I am advising the Board and the District administration that my recent personal circumstances have changed, which prevents me from continuing my service on the Board and accepting this term. I have no doubt that the work we all have been doing will continue and that the Hopewell Valley Regional School District will continue to be the trail blazer it always has been, setting the standard for the surrounding districts. I would like to thank each and every Board member and key administrator for being the professionals that they are and keeping the success of our students at the forefront of all that they do. Thank you.”*

After what appeared to be a stunned silence, Colavita asked the remaining newly-elected Board members to take the oath of office, which they did. He then conducted the election of officers resulting in the re-election of Anita Williams Galiano as board president and Jacqueline Genovesi as board vice president.

As the regular meeting went on, both Superintendent Dr. Rosetta Treece and Williams Galiano warmly thanked Driver for her service and assured her she would be deeply missed. Williams Galiano also specifically thanked Kapadia, who graduated from HVCHS in 2020 and is now a senior in college, for stepping up as a young person “and saying ‘yes’” to serving on the Board.

In a follow up email, Colavita said that anyone who would like to apply for consideration to fill the empty seat, should follow this linkThe deadline is Monday January 22.

The majority of the rest of the meeting was spent in Board Ethics training. There also were a few items of business:

Strategic Planning Dates – The first session was held on January 16 and the remaining two will be held on February 6 and March 12 in the high school cafeteria. Dr. Treece emphasized that participants are not required to attend all three sessions, nor do participants need to have kids in the District. To sign up, please check the HVRSD web page – the Superintendent’s office confirmed to MercerMe that information about the sessions will be posted shortly. Dr. Treece said the results of the planning session will be presented in June.

Math competitions – Two students spoke in public session, a 5th grader and an 11th grader, and both emphasized that the District could be doing more for its students who want to compete in math competitions. Dr. Treece and Vicky Pilitis, HVRSD director of curriculum and instruction, responded that the District’s participation in math competitions had been curtailed in the past, limited only to Math League at the high school, due to lack of interest. However, in response to many students and parents asking for greater math competition opportunities, next year they plan to add AMC 10/12 to the high school, Math Kangaroo and AMC 8 to the Middle School, and Math Olympiad for grades 4 and 5.

In response to another question from the public, the Board indicated that all Board meetings will start at 6:30pm going forward.

*Note that we transcribed the statement by listening to the meeting recording. We made every effort to be as faithful to Driver’s words as possible.

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MercerMe is the only hyperlocal, independent, online news outlet serving Hopewell Valley in Mercer County, New Jersey.

Contact us: [email protected] 

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