Pinelands Regional Hires Principal, Loses Board Member

By RICK MELLERUP | May 22, 2019

Little Egg Harbor — The Pinelands Regional School District hired a new high school principal at its May 15 Board of Education Meeting but lost a board member, and the two actions may have been related.

The BOE voted 7-1 to hire Troy Henderson, currently the principal of the Little Egg Harbor School District’s Frog Pond Elementary School, to replace the retiring Shaun Banin, the current Pinelands Regional High School principal, starting July 1. Henderson will receive a salary of $139,500 through June 30, 2020.

Thomas D. Williams Jr., who represents Bass River Township on the board, abstained. Jeffrey Bonicky, who represented Little Egg Harbor for 15 years, voted no.

Before voting on a package of a dozen personnel issues, Bonicky said, “I have spoken my concerns at executive session.”

“You have,” said board President Susan Ernst. “Thank you.” The tension was palpable.

Bonicky was the first name on the roll call vote that immediately followed. He voted no on item B2b, which involved the hiring of Henderson. He also voted no on item B6 – “RESOLVED, that the Board of Education approve that the Superintendent has achieved her Quantitative Goals and Qualitative Goals for the 2018-2019 school year.”

Later at the meeting, which lasted over 225 minutes, Bonicky dropped his bombshell.

“It’s come to a point in my time serving this board – I’ve done 14 or 15 years – and I feel that my time served has reached the point where my effectiveness is no longer effective. Decisions, recommendations, things that I cannot continue to be effective on – pass this (his written resignation) down, please, you’re gonna pass it to Madame Chair. I hope this board can make future decisions based on the students’ best interests and continue to celebrate our staff, our teachers, and provide the resources to really be successful but also while being cognizant of us taxpayers, because I am relegating myself to being a taxpayer.”

After a few more very short remarks, Bonicky said his resignation took effect immediately, and he stood up and left the meeting.

So the Pinelands board will now have to appoint another member from Little Egg Harbor for a term that will end in December of this year.

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, be able to read and write, be a resident of Little Egg Harbor Township for at least a year preceding the date of appointment, be a U.S. citizen, be registered to vote in the district, and can have no interest in any contract with, or claim against, the board. Applicants may also not hold any office in Little Egg Harbor Township’s governing body, hold any other elective office while serving on the board, and not be disqualified from membership for the conviction of certain crimes. (Within 30 days of his or her appointment, the appointee must undergo a criminal history background investigation through the state Department of Education).

People interested in serving on the board should submit a letter of interest, a resume and one reference letter to Nicholas K. Brown, school district business administrator/board secretary, 520 Nugentown Rd., P.O. Box 248, Little Egg Harbor, N.J. 08087-3281 by May 31 at 4 p.m. The board will be interviewing candidates on June 15.

Pinelands Regional recently lost another principal, and a superintendent to boot. After the meeting’s pledge of allegiance, the assembly observed a moment of silence honoring Clement Crea. He had been Pinelands High School’s first principal and had served as the district’s superintendent of schools for 18 years before retiring in 2003. Crea passed away in Phoenix, Ariz., on April 18.

— Rick Mellerup

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