District approves new BOE member

The+Board+of+Education+approved+Debra+Stephans+to+fill+the+open+BOE+seat+representing+Montvale+during+a+special+Monday+night+meeting+held+virtually+on+Zoom.+This+comes+following+the+resignation+of+Montvale+BOE+member+Janet+Bissinger+effective+March+16%2C+2021.+%0A

The Board of Education approved Debra Stephans to fill the open BOE seat representing Montvale during a special Monday night meeting held virtually on Zoom. This comes following the resignation of Montvale BOE member Janet Bissinger effective March 16, 2021.

Abby Shapiro and Ilmie Xhaferi

In a unanimous vote, the Board of Education approved Debra Stephans to fill the open BOE seat representing Montvale during a special Monday night meeting held virtually on Zoom. This comes following the resignation of Montvale BOE member Janet Bissinger that went into effect on March 16.

“I’m interested in the board position because I have a vested interest in [my children’s] education,” Stephans said. “And as a parent, I am and always will be a very strong advocate in ensuring that our schools continue to excel in providing excellence in not only academia [and] sports clubs, but also community service because I really do value community service as a whole.” 

Stephans will be sworn in during the next BOE meeting on April 26. During her interview, she said that her motivation to become a BOE member did not resolve around a single issue. 

“I think it was a natural progression for me moving forward, [to move into this] type of position,” Stephans said. “There’s no single issue [I want to handle in particular]. I wouldn’t want to waste the board’s time with my application if there was just one single issue at hand.”

Five candidates were interviewed for the BOE seat. These candidates include Judith Brendel, Debra Stephans, Matthew Solomon, Elizabeth Gloeggler, and Raymond Pawlyk. The order in which the candidates were interviewed was “randomly selected by a computer generator,” according to BOE President Tammy Molinelli.

We are clearly in a unique situation where in the past, we’ve always had an opportunity to interview people one-on-one,” Molinelli said. “We are now forced into the land of Zoom and for the sake of transparency and equity, we [thought we] would share those [interview] questions prior to the interview. We’re allowing each individual to take 20 minutes to interview with the board.”

When asked by BOE member Gini Varghese what important issue the BOE is currently facing, Stephans shared her pandemic concerns. 

“I think that the major focus at this point is to get students back into the classroom in the fall,” Stephans said. “It is a major issue that the board is facing at this time, making sure that the safety of our teachers and our students are at the forefront, of course.”

Following the candidate interviews, the BOE spent over an hour in a closed executive session discussing which candidate to elect for the position. After the executive session, Stephans was announced as the nominated candidate.

Stephans said during the interview portion of the meeting that she would run for re-election when her current term ends in December. 

“My kids are still coming through [the district], so I’m interested in [the position] for the long haul,” Stephans said.