New-look board names Macagnone as president

Six of nine members began their board service this year or last


Staff Writer

Mike Macagnone Mike Macagnone SAYREVILLE – Tuesday night marked a new beginning for the Board of Education.

Three of the four members sworn in to the nine-member board at its reorganization meeting are new, and the board elected a new president and vice president.

New members Thomas Biesiada, Jill Trapp and Leonard Zaleski were sworn in to their first terms, and veteran member Kevin Ciak began his fifth three-year term.

Immediately after being sworn in, Ciak, who was board president for the past year, nominated Michael Macagnone to take over as president.

Macagnone, beginning just his second year on the board, was approved as president in a unanimous vote by the board. Fellow member Pasquale “Pat” Lembo, also starting his second year, was nominated and unanimously approved as vice president, a post held last year by Peter Barone.

Lembo expressed his gratitude to the board.

“I thank all of my fellow board members for their faith and trust. I will do my very best to live up to that trust,” he said.

Macagnone was also grateful for board members’ confidence in him as president through April 2007.

“I am happy that the board has confidence in me, and has given me the trust and responsibility of this position,” he said.

Macagnone described his philosophy on the leadership position.

“A board president is only as good as his board,” he said. “My vote does not count more than any one else’s.”

Macagnone mentioned some of the issues he will face as president.

“I am looking forward to leading the team to iron out issues with the budget,” he said, “and to make sure that the addition to the high school begins on schedule.”

Macagnone said he believes Lembo “was a good choice” for vice president.

“He is a voice of reason and he certainly has the best interest of the taxpayers in mind. I think he and I complement each other,” he said.

Macagnone was pleased that the board and administration followed through on his initiative to provide SAT preparatory courses at the high school during his first year on the board.

Macagnone described the board’s 9-0 vote on both appointments as a good start, and reiterated that his purpose is to ensure the best education for Sayreville students within a budget that is acceptable to the taxpayer.

“I have no agenda,” Macagnone said. “My goal is that we provide a challenging education for our kids.”

Macagnone, who is also a borough Planning Board member and department

chair with the Jackson Township Board of Education, Ocean County, went on to congratulate Ciak, who has been nominated to become president on the New Jersey School Boards Association.

Lucy Bloom, a Sayreville War Memorial High School teacher and head of the Sayreville Education Association, thanked Ciak for his service as board president, a position Ciak has held at various times over the years.

“Mr. Ciak has been on the board since he was 19 years old, and he has stuck with it now for 12 years,” Bloom told the Suburban. “He has been dedicated to the kids and very pro-teacher. I could not let Mr. Ciak leave the presidency without thanking him for what he has done.”

Ciak told the Suburban he sees Macagnone as a great fit for the position of president, adding that Macagnone will be able devote himself to the local school district as he continues to serve Sayreville and possibly the state school boards association after a May 20 school board election is held.

Trapp said that she enjoyed the reorganization ceremony and looks forward to serving her first term with the board.

“I am really excited about everything going on with the board,” Trapp said, “and I am glad I have the opportunity to work with them and give to the kids.”

Trapp, Zaleski and Biesiada take the places of board veterans Danny DiPoalo, Al Cox and Arthur Rittenhouse Jr. While the three begin their first year, three others – Macagnone, Lembo and Phyllis Batko – are starting just their second.

The remaining longtime members are Barone, who will finish his third three-year term this year; Curtis Clark, who will complete his fourth term; and Ciak, beginning his fifth term.