New president want school board to start off on the right foot

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PLEASANTVILLE – New Board of Education President Darleen Bey-Blocker has a simple request of her nine-member board: Can’t we all just get along?

Bey-Blocker was selected board president at the body’s annual reorganization meeting Tuesday, Jan. 9 at PleasantvilleHigh School.

She won the seat with a 6-3 vote. Members Joanne Famularo, Tony Davenport, Michael Bright, Ethel Seymore and Jerome Page voted for her, while Ketsy Alcea, Maria Vazquez and Paul Moore Jr. voted against her.

Moore failed in a bid to become board president when he could only muster a 4-4 vote with Page abstaining.

After nearly a decade of board decisions coming on a 6-3 or 5-4 split, Bey-Blocker says it is time for the board to vote with the children first in mind.

“We will never get anything done until we can come together as a board,” she said after the reorganization meeting. “The children have got to come first.”

Bey-Blocker, who was appointed to the board in 2006, said she was very surprised to be selected president.

“That was a shock,” she said. “I thank everybody in Pleasantville.”

Bey-Blocker said the November elections showed that residents in the city felt the board needed to go in another direction.

In the election, 25-year board member Doris Graves and fellow members Melanie Griffin and Johnny McClellan failed to win re-election.

Voters instead chose to elect Page, a former board member, and newcomers Davenport and Bright.

“We must work for an agreement where our kids are coming first,” Bey-Blocker reiterated. “We need to come together as a whole and be as transparent as cellophane and not as transparent as aluminum foil.”

One of Bey-Blocker’s first duties as board president was to get the board to agree on a board retreat-workshop meeting for the members to “lay it all out in the open.”

She hopes to get the board on the same page with each other, she said.

“I want children to come first,” she said. “If you work in the district, children should come first, even before your job.”

Page suggested the board consider holding meetings at different locations other than the high school, and starting meetings at 6 p.m. rather than 5 p.m.

Bey-Blocker said both of those suggestions should be discussed between board members at the retreat.

Famularo was selected board vice present by a 6-3 vote.

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