Bennett Not Seeking Re-Election to South Orange-Maplewood Board of Ed

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Jeff Bennett

As first reported on, South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education member Jeffrey Bennett will not be running for a second term.

Election day is November 3, 2015. The last day to file to run for Board of Education is July 27.

Board of Education President Wayne Eastman confirmed that he will run for a fourth term on the Board of Education this fall. First Vice President Madhu Pai said that, at this time, she is planning to run for a second term this fall.

Terms are for three years.

Both Eastman and Pai, who both ran on a ticket with Bennett in 2012, praised Bennett’s tenure.

“Jeff has been a wonderful colleague,” wrote Eastman.  “As President, I’ve tried to learn from Jeff’s receptivity and his eagerness to work collaboratively with all of his colleagues. One example among many is the passage recently of a policy making homeschooled children eligible for certain sports, which Jeff championed. His patient and extremely well-informed advocacy led the Board to agree with him unanimously. Here and everywhere, Jeff has brought a rare combination of passionate commitment to fairness as he sees it with respect for other people and their values. I will deeply miss him on the Board!”

Pai was likewise effusive: “I am saddened that Jeff is not running again. His thoughtfulness and thoroughness in evaluating issues, and his earnest desire to push our school district forward is why I ran with him, and why he made such a great board member. He will sorely be missed. Thanks to Jeff, we are all better informed about so many issues confronting us, including the unfair distribution of state aid and how it affects our budget. We have all benefitted from his presence in the board.”

Bennett himself forwarded the following statement on his decision:

It’s been a huge honor to serve the community as a member of the Board of Education.  Although the role is occasionally difficult, it’s very meaningful, very interesting, and, in its own way, immensely educational.  I’m grateful to everyone who helped me join the Board and to all of my colleagues.  I hope I have introduced new ideas to the Board’s agenda and made more South Orange-Maplewood residents aware of how the state badly needs to rationalize its distribution of school aid.

But with family and professional commitments, it’s time for me to step down. My own time as a district parent is still three years away, so my involvement with the school district will continue through the 2030s. Perhaps at some point in the future I will be fortunate enough to be able to run for the Board and serve again.

I am confident that whoever succeeds me will be someone thoughtful and committed to the betterment of public education in our school district.

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