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Outgoing Township BOE President Says He Won't Be Candidate for Vacant Seat

William Collins made the announcement during a school board work session Monday.

Outgoing Gloucester Township school board President William Collins.
Outgoing Gloucester Township school board President William Collins.

Gloucester Township school board President William Collins, who lost a reelection bid in November, said Monday he will not be a candidate to replace outgoing board member Andrew Lalli.

The news sheds some light on a process several board members set in motion last month to solicit candidates to replace Lalli, who left the board on Nov. 30. School officials said up to 20 candidates submitted resumes to the board for consideration to be appointed to Lalli’s remaining term. But the board has not revealed the names of any of the applicants.

Board Solicitor John Wade said the board planned to release the resume of the eventual appointee but not the other applicants.

Tom Crone, a township resident and head of the Camden County Republican party, said, during a public portion of a school board work session Monday, that he had submitted an open public record request to get the names of applicants.

Crone also had a heated 15-minute exchange with the board in which he demanded Collins not be part of the process to appoint someone to fill Lalli’s unexpired term.

"This is a travesty, nothing more than a coup, in my opinion," Crone said. "You are rushing this process. It’s unfair to the people who didn’t vote for Mr. Collins, it’s unfair to the new person who is coming in. You work for the people. I don’t want to hear any more about you work for the children."

Several members at that point began to loudly protest what Crone was saying. Board member William Fontanez, who has rarely spoken during meetings over the past year, banged the table and demanded a point of order.

Board member Felicia Reid, choked with emotion and mounting anger, insisted on immediately answering Crone.

"Hold it. hold it, hold it!" she said. "No, he doesn’t have the floor with offensive comments. This is ridiculous. I’ve taken it as long as I can. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, you don’t get up and say I don’t care about kids."

Crone continued to argue with the board after Collins pounded the gavel and thanked him for his comments. 

"Bring the police and have me arrested," Crone said. "That’s what I would like to see. I really would like to see that."

After the exchange, the board affirmed a scheduled public meeting on Wednesday to interview each candidate.

Some township residents had previously expressed concern that Collins could be appointed to the board after losing in the election.

Collins put an end to that speculation Monday, before Crone’s comments.

"I do not expect to be a member of the board after January," Collins said during a break before the board went into a two-hour, closed-door executive session. "We voted on a process and I'm not part of that process."

Board solicitor John Wade said the executive session was to discuss ground rules for candidate interviews and several "personnel matters." The session started at 8:17 p.m. and the public meeting reconvened at 10:17 p.m. Seven people attended the meeting and all stayed until the nearly 3.5-hour end just before 10:30 p.m.

Collins’ two running mates, Linda Gilch and Ellen Reese finished at the top of a six-candidate field for three open board seats. Collins finished fourth behind newcomer Dominic Gagliardi.

The board reorganization is scheduled for January, when Gagliardi will be sworn in.

Collins, a board member for more than 20 years, was the public face of the board during a the past year with issues such as seven of 11 township K-8 schools failing meet state academic achievement goals and year-long struggles to agree on a contracts for district teachers and support staffs. 

l t Paine December 10, 2013 at 08:54 AM
Welcome to our own Third World Government in action. To complete the image you just need Bilodeau to come out wearing a Military jacket loaded with medals and wearing sunglasses. This Board and this Administration is a sad, sad joke and the ones who are paying the highest price are the children of the district. As for Ms. Reid being all choked up, she should be she could have stood up against GILCH, REESE and COLLINS, but when votes came she voted with them. So if yo can't stand up for what is right then you deserve to be lumped in with the rest of the political hacks that are in it for themselves like GILCH, REESE, COLLINS CARR and the rest of this foul smelling BOARD. Ms. Reid actions speak louder than crocodile tears, if you really care show a little backbone and stand up to them. I have already asked GILCH and REESE to do the same on a few occasions but alas that request has fallen on deaf ears. So now how about you Ms. REID you ready to stand up for what is right?
Jennifer December 10, 2013 at 09:18 AM
Ms. Reid did not return after the executive session! Speaks volumes!
Paul J. DiBartolo December 10, 2013 at 10:09 AM
I was not there so I can only speak from what I can gather in what is written here and in the comments. I think I have to disagree with what I believe is your take on it, Jennifer, in that if Ms. Reid had some disagreement with what transpired during the executive session, it is her duty as a representative of the people to stay and air her grievances so all can hear rather than to pack up and go home. All that suggests is that she got her feelings hurt and went home. Will anything in this town ever change?
l t Paine December 10, 2013 at 10:21 AM
That's exactly what I mean Ms. Reid needs to show some courage and let her opinions be heard in a public forum instead of packing up and running and hiding. Show some courage and represent the people who voted for you. Stop letting this Board and Bilodeau from bullying you and speak out against improper behavior of this Board and Bilodeau
Jennifer December 10, 2013 at 12:12 PM
I didn't give a "take" Paul. You're belief is wrong.
Pete Heinbaugh December 10, 2013 at 12:56 PM
Russell, Who, specifically, is this entity who issues the marching orders and metes out punishment? I don't necessarily disagree with you; but, I am baffled by how long the reach of this conspiratorial entity must be, but nothing concrete is ever exposed. Accusers can only deal in generalizations, speculation, and innuendo.
l t Paine December 10, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Well conspiracy or not this Board and it's Administrators are jokes and we are the ones paying for it while they continue with their own agenda at residents and employees backs.
Angie Jones December 10, 2013 at 04:30 PM
It should be very interesting to see who the new board member will be. I know of two very concerned and passionate members of my community, both with education backgrounds, who submitted their resumes. Hopefully one of them will take the spot. We can only hope that change will be favorable for what appears to be a struggling district.
Jane smith December 10, 2013 at 06:52 PM
It is truly sad to see political agendas become the focus vs children become the focus. The district has its problems but finger pointing and wanting my team to win at all costs causes damage. reminds me of Washington, and by the way there was at least one candidate in the recent board elections who did have an educational background was not elected though, seems even with the change everyone claims they want politics will still be the dominant factor not kids
Russell December 10, 2013 at 07:49 PM
It's a one order system. It's fact, not fiction. They need their jobs, contracts and kickbacks. If they don't do what they're told and they go against the system, they become an outcast. People read what they want you to read and patch is an advertisement driven social media site. Paid to write what their advertisers tell them. It's people who need to wise up to the townships misLEADERS
Schu December 10, 2013 at 10:05 PM
The BOE are the biggest bullies on the block.

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