Millstone BOE president resigns

Kevin McGovern elected to post

By Jane Meggitt Correspondent

MILLSTONE — The Board of Education elected a new president at its July 12 meeting after the surprise resignation of Tom Foley via email on July 8.
     Foley had served on the board for 14 years, and as president since 2008. Foley did not return inquiries from the Examiner as to the reason for his resignation.
     Kevin McGovern, who has served on the board since 2007, opted to run for a one-year term in April. He was elected as president in a 7-0 vote with board member Bradley Winfree absent at the July 12 meeting.
     McGovern, 45, is married with two children. The labor lawyer has a Bachelor of Arts from Seton Hall University in South Orange and a Juris Doctor from Rutgers University in Newark. David DePinho will remain the board’s vice president.
     Foley also served as the district’s voting representative on the Upper Freehold Regional School District (UFRSD) Board of Education. Amy Jacobsen, who attended UFRSD meetings as a non-voting member, was elected to fill the post. She asked the board to include updated UFRSD information on its agenda again, as it had not been for the past year. The board agreed.
     Before McGovern’s nomination, DePinho thanked Foley on behalf of the board for his years of service to the district. He then called for an official re-organization of the board. After his election, McGovern thanked the other board members for the confidence they showed in him.
     “I will do my best to live up to that,” he said. “I will do my best to be honest, open and respectful.”
McGovern noted that Foley’s tenure was sometimes controversial, but said Foley did a lot of good regarding the district’s send/receive relationship with the UFRSD, and representation in Trenton. Millstone does not have its own high school, and has a send/receive relationship with Allentown High School in the UFRSD.
     McGovern said he hopes to improve the tenor of public discourse at board meetings. He said he has seen the board work well in executive session, when members can “say their piece in a free and honest way.”
     “I want to do that in public,” McGovern said.
     He said it has been hard to watch the degradation of public discourse, including the loss of civility in public comment.
     “We can disagree, but we don’t need to be disagreeable,” he said.
     McGovern said the board is ready to hear from the public, including “our friends on the Township Committee.”
     Township Committeeman Fiore Masci, the liaison to the board, said he looked forward to working with McGovern in a positive way.
     Foley had often differed with Millstone’s governing body, especially after the Township Committee cut $1.2 million from the 2010-11 failed school budget. The district is currently appealing the decision with the New Jersey Department of Education.
     McGovern warned that the district faces a number of monumental challenges that will require a great deal of time, effort and energy to resolve. The new president noted the new vacancy on the board, and urged those in the community who care about education to volunteer for the appointment.
     Resident Ramon Recalde, who ran unsuccessfully for a board seat in the last election and who clashed with Foley over a recent letter asking him to cease sending emails to teachers about their contracts, said, “We’re in good hands. I trust and have good faith in all you guys.”
     Due to budget cuts, many staff members have recently been let go. McGovern said the board would like to keep every staff member, but fiscal realities make that impossible.
     “I can’t promise anyone they’ll like the decisions made, but I will commit to full, transparent and open discussion,” he said. “When I say ‘I,’ I am not the board. No one person can speak or act on behalf of the board.”
     McGovern said the public has “outstanding representatives” on the Board of Education who work best when engaged in the free flow of ideas.