Egg Harbor Township voters have elected mostly incumbents and prior members in the hotly contested Board of Education race, although one of the four seats will go to a newcomer.
According to preliminary vote totals, which exclude absentee and provisional ballots, Pete Castellano, John “Jack” Haines, Lisa Dagit and Mary Anne Spiker will take seats on the school board in Atlantic County’s most populous municipality.
While the Township Committee race was uncontested, the school board featured 11 candidates. This was the first year the race coincided with a general election, having been moved from April thanks to legislation earlier this year.
Castellano, who has served on the board for 10 years but left in 2011 to care for ailing parents, won the most votes with 4,484 in the unofficial tally.
“I want to just thank the voters in EHT for once again putting their trust in me to serve them on the board,” he said
Castellano said his primary goals are to increase state and federal aid, as well as private funding, for the district. He also plans to keep a “tight watch” on district spending.
“The Egg Harbor Township school system has been consistently gaining ground among the most elite schools in the area and the state,” he said. “We want to see that continue.”
Incumbent Haines, who has served on the board for 13 years, said he’s grateful for the chance to continue to serve the township.
“Our children are our future, and I want to make sure to provide them with all the tools and education we can give them because they’ll be our future leaders,” he said.
Dagit, the only newcomer to be elected, serves as director of curriculum and instruction in the neighboring Hamilton Township district. She said she plans to bring that experience to the office — but only after she gets accustomed to the way the district works.
“I believe policy and practice should be fluid,” she said. “You can always make changes to improve upon what already exists.”
Spiker, a retired math teacher who has served on the board for six years, said she’s glad to be back on the board for another term. She had been appointed to a vacant seat earlier this year.
Her biggest concerns are new state mandates regarding educational standards and teacher evaluations.
“I’m focused on making sure everyone’s treated fairly: teachers, students and staff,” she said.
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