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Bedminster Township School District {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Bedminster Township School District provides an academic foundation and safe learning environment for all students to maximize his/her potential and develop skills, based on the Common Core State Standards, NJCCCS, and NGSS, preparing them to become empowered lifelong learners and productive contributors in a diverse and worldwide global community, while maintaining fiscal responsibility.There are three seats up for election. Each having a three year term.
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    Michael Allegra Small business owner

  • Francis J. Porcelli

  • Ralph W. Wojtech

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    Howard Wolkow Software Architect

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Biographical Information

What personal and professional experiences have prepared you for serving on the Board?

What do you consider the three most important challenges facing our local public schools at this time? How would you address these challenges?

Do you think that the current civics education in our schools is adequate? If not, what do you think can be done to improve it?

Qualifications/Experience The skills I bring to the Board of Education: ​ As a small business owner for the past 30+ years I bring a realistic and pragmatic point of view regarding issues that impact a school board. As a Hallmark store owner and proprietor, I bring the business savvy required to successfully operate a multi-faceted establishment, including the daily operations, talent development, sales and marketing, accounting and budgeting, and most importantly the customer service which is tantamount to success. As a board member I have equally important and similar responsibilities; maintaining confidentiality, working with a diverse group of individuals including students, parents, teachers, administrators and staff, maintaining fiscal responsibilities, and yet also refraining from the daily operations that are the responsibility of the superintendent and her staff, similar to how I must refrain from the day to day operations of one of my store managers to whom I provide oversight and guidance. As a board member, my role is to advise the superintendent and staff, and recognize that their responsibilities are separate from my own, as a board member and as a member of the community. And as a member of the facilities and finance committee, I leverage my business experience and accounting degree. The primary skills I bring to the Board of Education are in fact my people skills. My role on the board is that of an active team member; I have excellent listening skills .
As a small business owner for the past 30+ years I bring a realistic and pragmatic point of view regarding issues that impact a school board. As a Hallmark store owner and proprietor, I bring the business savvy required to successfully operate a multi-faceted establishment, including the daily operations, talent development, sales and marketing, accounting and budgeting, and most importantly the customer service which is tantamount to success. As a board member I have equally important and similar responsibilities; maintaining confidentiality, working with a diverse group of individuals including students, parents, teachers, administrators and staff, maintaining fiscal responsibilities, and yet also refraining from the daily operations that are the responsibility of the superintendent and her staff, similar to how I must refrain from the day to day operations of one of my store managers to whom I provide oversight and guidance. As a board member, my role is to advise the superintendent and staff, and recognize that their responsibilities are separate from my own, as a board member and as a member of the community. And as a member of the facilities and finance committee, I leverage my business experience and accounting degree. The primary skills I bring to the Board of Education are in fact my people skills. My role on the board is that of an active team member; I have excellent listening skills and respect for each of my peers on the board. While I have strong opinions, I am open to diverse perspectives; and finally, I am self-motivated and driven to succeed.
The main issues I see facing the board and challenging the district are as follows: 1) Special Education – these children need and deserve all the resources that are available. 2) Safe and adequate school facilities – our school is safe and adequate, yet aging, and will eventually need to replace items as significant as the roof and the heating and air conditioning systems. These issues are not visible, yet they are critical. And while not apparent visually, they will impact the budget in a way that will be seen and felt. 3) The third and final issue facing the board and challenging the district is regionalization of the Bedminster School District and the Somerset Hills School District. While the change itself will be a difficult one, the money saving opportunities for both districts could be considerable.
I do not think that the civics education in our schools is adequate, currently the students don’t have a civics class that they can take as an elective or as a regular class, nor is the topic addressed in their social studies curriculum.

If students were provided an opportunity to learn and discuss the impact of civics and what it means to be a citizen in a community as well as public issues facing the world at a macro and micro economic level, the opportunity to engage students in current socio economic issues would be more readily available. And accessible. The main challenge we’d face in trying to incorporate this into the school day is what would get removed? Currently there are 6 hours in a school day, and we struggle to ensure equal time for the common core subjects, electives, exercise, lunch and recess now.
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Qualifications/Experience In 2015 I began my service on the Bedminster Board of Education. While on the Board, I've been a member of the Finance and Technology Committees, liaison to the PTO, and a member of the Somerset Hills Municipal Alliance. These past three years have seen many challenges met and conquered by the Board including the conclusion of negotiations with all bargaining units, a complete renewal of district leadership, and the attainment of tenure for our principal. In particular, I bring a strong analytical and financial skill set to bear on Board business. My reelection will bring a continuity of knowledge and the extension of the service I've performed for the Board.
Campaign Email wolkowh123@yahoo.com
First of all, my current three years of service form a bedrock of understanding Board function and operation. During this time, I've completed NJ School Boards Association training in Governance and Finance. I listen to the community; I serve as liaison to the Parent Teacher Organization and I am always discussing with friends and neighbors their concerns with the school and the district.

I am currently employed in the field of software architecture. This requires analysis of business issues and figuring out the correct application of technology to arrive at a cost-effective solutions. These skills transfer over to the Board and I bring them to bear on problems brought before us.

Most importantly, my other job, Father to my eight year old daughter, Abigail, has given me great insight into the needs of our children and the necessity of playing an active role in her school life.

Being the only Board member currently living in the Hills and having a professional life outside of school and government, I bring a different perspective on the town and the issues of community to the table. Being reelected would preserve my experience and perspective.
1. The Board's rocky relationship with the Somerset Hills Board of Education

Over $4,000,000 of Bedminster taxpayer money is transferred to the Somerset Hills Board of Education as tuition payment for our high school students attendance at their Bernards High School. This sum is based on a NJ state formula. When we asked for a critical look at their books, to ensure fair and correct application of the formula, their response has been to demand $188,000 in "back tuition", kick our Board member off the Finance Committee, and refuse all attempts at reasonable negotiation.

We need to have their books examined and a real negotiation between our districts occur. This will be a long effort with a partner unwilling to even agree to say there is a problem. I would stay the course and continue to strongly fight for our district.

2. The huge impact of recent laws on our budget and hiring practices - the 2% budget cap and administration salary caps.

We must be fierce in our reduction of waste and corralling of budgetary items. I would continue to serve as a member of the Finance Committee and work with our Business Administrator to craft budgets which align to the reality of our constraints but do not cut program.

3. Preparing our children to be competitive in the global labor market.

We must ensure the district delivers cutting edge education to our children. As a Board member, I advocate for STEM infusion in the curriculum; serving on the Technology Committee lets me bring my professional expertise to bear on the details of how it's implemented.

Reelecting me would bring a strong voice to the table in advocacy for these issues.
Living in the home of the Summer White House, the impact of national civics on local life is very clear.

From what I've seen of my daughter's 3+ years of education at Bedminster School, our students are being taught to engage and think about their role in society and how they can make a positive impact. All of our children have community service requirements with many far exceeding the minimum asked of them.

With the explosion of nontraditional news sources from Wikipedia to Twitter - critical thinking skills must continue to integrate into our whole curriculum.

A famous politician's creed was, "All politics is local." It's 2010's corollary "All civics begins at home"

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