New president elected, board members sworn in at Westfield School

WESTFIELD, NJ – Incumbents Leila Morrelli and Sonal Patel, along with newcomer Julie Steinberg, were sworn in as members of the Westfield Board of Education during the reorganization meeting.

Morrelli, Patel and Steinberg all won one of three three-term seats on the board in the April election, over Brad Schaeffer, Mark Shore and Lindsay Bezalel.


Additionally, at its May 1 meeting, the Board of Directors elected Robert Benacchio as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Sonal Patel as Vice Chairman of the Board.

Since his election, Benacchio has served as co-chair of the curriculum committee and as a member of the financial facilities committee. He also serves as a liaison to Westfield High School and the recreation committee.

“Since his election two years ago, Rob has demonstrated that he is not only willing to be a team player, but also a strong leader. His tenure as Vice President was a testament to his pragmatic skills, not only with his interaction and communication with all stakeholders , but also with his impartiality Rob is proactive, approachable and knowledgeable. It was an honor to work with him and get to know him,” said Morrelli.

“Rob has consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership and dedication to our educational community,” said Patel.

Benacchio expressed his enthusiasm for the coming board year and thanked his predecessors for their contributions.

He said he plans to improve communication between the board and the community by tapping into the district’s communications team and making himself more available to address issues.

“I would like to grow in frequency and in the way our board communicates with the community. We have an excellent communications team in the district and I want to see the board take more advantage of that,” Benacchio said.

Prior to the May 1 appointments, Benacchio served as vice president and Patel as president.

“The leadership team of Rob and Sonal has been a phenomenal duo. And I think that will continue to be the case this year. Just because you changed seats doesn’t mean you’re really changing the way I see you operating as a team. and I would like to see this continue in the interests of the Board of Directors,” said Brendan Galligan.

“I must compliment Sonal for leading some of our most challenging meetings with grace and patience. You are practical, you are balanced in your approach, you are organised, you always encourage teamwork and communication and for those reasons I will wholeheartedly support Sonal to continue to lead as vice president of the board of directors,” said Kristen Sonnek-Schmelz.

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