WOODBRIDGE — Dr. Marianne Vahey was elected by Woodbridge Board of Education members to the position of Board Chairman at its first meeting since new members were sworn-in May 1st. Vahey, a Democrat elected to the BOE in May 1999, was nominated by fellow Democrat Ellie Sheehy and approved by a vote of 8-1. She replaces Bonna Green, a Republican who will remain on the Board. James Carolan - R was elected Vice-Chair and new member Clotilde Dudley Smith - R was elected Secretary. Other new Board members taking part in their first official meeting included Jamie Lecker - R, Gary Desire -D, Debbie Pines - I and Bunny Yesner - D.

In other business, the Board welcomed newly hired principals Kathy Steadman, who will oversee Primary Grades at Beecher, and Kathleen Peters-Durrigan, who will take charge of Intermediate Grades. The pair were also the focus of a "Meet The Principals" reception at the school earlier that afternoon, where they had the opportunity to greet parents and students and discuss issues of importance to the Beecher community.

The Board also received a status update on preparations for the new school hours that will go into effect this fall. Beecher will begin it's academic day at 8:35 am and dismiss classes at 3:10 p.m., a shift of one half hour later necessitated by a regional bus sharing agreement with the Amity, Bethany and Orange school districts. Arrangements and costs for before-school care, for those students who need it, are still being worked out with the JCC, which will administer a program at Beecher similar to the one run at the Bethany Community School. Interested parents are asked to contact Superintendent Peter Madonia's office for details.

Also on the agenda for this meeting, the Board received a recommendation from its Safety and Security Evaluation Committee for a new system to be enacted for this coming school year. The Board voted 5-3, with one member abstaining, to accept the recommendation to install a Prox Card system and electronic door locks that will function much like ATM door security systems. Closed Circuit (CCTV) cameras will also be installed at each entrance and a digital video capture system will enable the police department to obtain images in the event of an emergency at the school. ID badge systems will also be implemented; one to operate the exterior door system, and a separate sign-in and badge procedure will be put in place to allow for greater control of the school environment.

These new security arrangements will replace the security guards employed since last September. Total costs for this new system depend on whether the equipment needed to implement it is purchased or leased, but first year cost could match the $55,775 currently in the Beecher budget for security guard service. A monthly service fee will also be expended, ranging from $790 to $435, again depending on the out-right purchase or leasing decision.

The Board also accepted, for a mandatory 30-day review period, several policy initiatives including rules for electronic information use, staff evaluation procedures, student conduct codes, and guidelines for visitors to the school. These policies are available for public review from the Superintendent's office