The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

BOE brings in a new president and one new member

Photo courtesy of
2024-2025 BOE at the reorganization meeting on May 1

On May 1, the BOE held its 2024-2025 reorganization meeting, swearing in three members to their seats for the next three-year term and appointing Robert Benacchio as Board President. Incumbents Sonal Patel and Leila Morelli won two of the three seats up for election in April, while Julie Steinberg, a newcomer on the Board, won the third.

Benacchio has served on the Board since his election in 2021, and will run again next year for his next term. Thus far in his first term, he has worked with the Curriculum Committee and the Finance and Facilities Committee, and served as Board vice president during the 2023-2024 year.

As a longtime recreational coach of softball and basketball in Westfield, Benacchio knows what it means to lead a team effectively. When he first decided to run for the Board, his main goal was to find new ways to benefit the community that he had already been involved with for many years. Now with his assumption of the role as Board president, he says “it’s the same idea.”

Benacchio’s goals for the BOE this year include “improving communication” and “eliminating some of the mystery that people see with board meetings.” He said, “I don’t like it when people say ‘I didn’t know that was coming’ or ‘I didn’t know this was happening in the schools.’ That’s not right. Even if you don’t have kids in the schools, we pay a significant amount of tax dollars to fund them. This is the biggest and most important investment our community can have. We want to make sure that everybody knows as much as possible.”

He hopes to achieve this through an increased emphasis on “open dialogue” and an encouragement of public participation at Board meetings.

Additionally, Benacchio will over-see the work of the Referendum Community Advisory Committee as they prepare for a public referendum in April of 2025. According to Benacchio, the referendum will pertain to “significant renovations, additions and changes to every building in the district.” He hopes to lead the committee in shaping plans that the public will approve come time for the election.

The board’s newest member, Steinberg, who Benacchio describes as “energetic” with “a lot of great ideas,” said that she ran for the Board because she “wanted to make a difference.” As a regular attendee of BOE meetings for the past decade, Steinberg feels she has a “good sense of the amount of effort and the amount of respect for other people that you need to have in order to really serve the public.”

Although Steinberg’s committee assignments have not yet been set, she hopes to join the Curriculum Committee and expand upon her past work with the Holocaust and Genocide Studies course. She has interests in financial policy and the special education curriculum as well.

Looking ahead, both Benacchio and Steinberg hope to get high school students involved with the Board plans and meetings and also emphasize their own commitment to communication within the community.

The next Board meeting will be held on May 21 at 7:00 p.m. in WHS’ Cafeteria B.

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