Matthew Litt Voted to Fill Unexpired Board of Education Term

By Ben Wolverton
January 23, 2019 – 11:42pm

Matthew Litt is interviewed for the unexpired Board of Education position. Ben Wolverton/WBNC News

CHESTERFIELD, NJ – At Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting, elected members heard from 6 candidates, all vying to join the Board. In a unanimous vote, attorney and author Matthew Litt was added to the BOE to fill the unexpired term.

Each applicant had 20 minutes to make their case and answer the 8 questions provided to them prior to the meeting. An application requirement was that you had to live in the township for at least one year prior to applying for the position. Several of the applicants were newer faces in the town and had many years experience in the fields of law, IT, and higher education.

Though Litt was voted onto the Board, we have chosen to include selections from each interview so that the applicants’ interpretation of what it means to be on the School Board be preserved.

The first applicant was Erin Pinelli, an educator in Trenton Public Schools. She became a soccer coach when the CTAA asked around to parents. When asked what she would change or improve about Chesterfield if chosen to join the board, she said “as a parent, community member, and taxpayer,” settle the contract. She also suggested that since Chesterfield is a part of a regional school district, we should coordinate with Northern, specifically in Mathematics programs, so everyone is on the same page.

The second community member to be interviewed was Christina Lyon. She has worked in Educational Research across the state and hopes to make a difference here on the local level. She has volunteered at a school in Hamilton, explaining assessment reports and PARCC scores. She also makes Quilts for Kids in Yardley, PA. Explaining that not every child learns at the same rate, Lyon said the school should look at differentiated learning, as well as a review of the special education services. She was the second candidate to express interest in an increased collaborative effort with the other Northern sending districts.

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Karthikyan Prabhakaran was involved in both the effort to get the Northern Burlington Referendum passed in March of 2018 and the fight for fair school funding at Chesterfield Elementary School. Prabhakaran has 20 years of experience in the IT industry and thinks this can complement the majority of the board, which has an educational background. He urges the board to improve the science curriculum and hopes some of the additional state aid received can go towards implementing after-school programs in the fields of public speaking and robotics. He also would look into sharing expenses with other school districts.

Rob Sheerr thinks the role of the Chesterfield School Board is to be in constant communication with the administration and community and to work towards the benefit of the township’s children. He is an attorney and has a degree in finance. He says after being on social media and out in the community, it seems that everyone loves Chesterfield’s teachers, and with almost 600 days without a contract, resolving that would be a top priority, as would getting more funding from the state. Sheerr was the only interviewee to acknowledge that since this is an unexpired term, the board member would need to run for reelection in November of 2019. Sheerr says, “If chosen, I would choose to run for reelection.”

Matthew Litt, who was eventually chosen to join the board, thinks the role of the BOE is to “use every resource at the board’s disposal for the benefit of the students.” He thinks communication with its constituents is also a priority, as you can get feedback before and after an important decision is made. Litt believes that our school district needs to make changes and that the current 2019 board is the one to do it. Litt is the Vice-President of the Bordentown PAC and is a local T-Ball coach. He is also an author and has recently read excerpts from his book at the Crosswicks Library and the Chesterfield Twp Historical Society.

The final candidate was Jill Moraca who works in higher education and could help with communication and consensus building. She helps with strategic planning and building software. Moraca is a Board of Trustees member of the University of NOW (National Organization of Women) in Princeton. She encourages that the Board is communicative regarding what the school is working on and where are they going. She suggests the school give public credit and recognize them. They can take pride in their community and school.

After deliberating in closed session for about 30 minutes, the Board voted unanimously to add Matthew Litt to the Board. Litt could be sworn in as early as February 13th at the Board’s work session meeting to discuss Board Goals, pending paperwork, or at the regular February 20th meeting.

Ben Wolverton can be reached at bwolverton@wbncnews.com