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Getting to Know You: Meet the New State Board of Education

With different leadership in place and six new members, the board is as close to a full house as it has been for some time

Board of Ed members
New members Kathy Goldenberg (left) and Mary Beth Berry at state Board of Education meeting

The State Board of Education just went through a significant facelift, overturning its leadership and adding six new members appointed by Gov. Chris Christie.

Yesterday saw the last of the new members sworn in, and the outgoing officers offered messages of appreciation. Otherwise, it wasn’t that eventful a meeting, with a few mostly routine matters for the board that decides state regulations on public schools.

But there are some big decision ahead, from the imminent return of Newark schools to local control to debates on testing, standards, and teacher quality. And there’s a new tone to the board, with new voices making up half the membership.

Two of the new appointments are working educators in public education. Two just recently stepped down from their local boards of education. Now with 12 of its statutory 13 members in place — eight in all appointed by Christie in the last eight years — it’s as full a slate as any in recent memory.

Here are brief bios of the new members, and of those returning to the board.

New members

Mary Beth Berry – Clinton Transition services/ grant writing, Hunterdon Preparatory School, 2017; special education teacher, North Hunterdon-Voorhees Regional School District, 1989-1994

Mary Elizabeth Gazi – Bound Brook Partner, Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski, P.C., 2013-present

Kathy Goldenberg – Moorestown President, Moorestown Township Public Schools board of education, 2015-2017; member, 2007-17

Nedd James Johnson – Pittsgrove Adjunct elementary education instructor for field supervision, Rowan University College of Education, 2017-present; assistant superintendent, Bridgeton Public Schools, 2011-2016

Joseph Ricca Jr. – Morristown Superintendent, White Plains (NY) city school district, 2017; superintendent, East Hanover (NJ) school district, 2009-2013

Sylvia Sylvia-Cioffi – Ocean President, Township of Ocean board of education, 2014-2017

Continuing members

Arcelio Aponte (president) – Piscataway First appointed 2005; vice provost for finance and administration, Rutgers University–Newark; president, state board of education, 2010-2014

Andrew J. Mulvihill (vice president) – Andover First appointed 2011; CEO, Crystal Springs and Mountain Creek Real Estate Division; owner, Mountain Resort Properties

Ronald K. Butcher – Glassboro First appointed 1990; state board president, 2007-2008; retired faculty and administrator, Rowan University

Jack Fornaro – Oxford First appointed 2011; director, constituent relations, New Jersey Legislature, 1999 –present; member, New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling, 2004 –2010

Edithe Fulton – Toms River First appointed 2007; former president, New Jersey Education Association

Ernest P. Lepore – West New York First appointed 2004; director, Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science; professor, Rutgers University Department of Philosophy

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