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Lawrence Township Board of Education {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The Lawrence Township Board of Education provides a thorough and efficient system of free public education in grades Pre-K through 12 in the Lawrence Township Public schools. One of its most important functions is the establishment of long-range policies, bylaws and regulation. Nine members serve on the BOE and are elected to 3-year terms. In 2019, one candidate (Cathy LeCompte) is running for a seat to fill an unexpired term. The other 5 candidates are running for 3 open seats.

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    Heather L. Camp

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    Jonathan Dauber

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    Patricia "Pepper" Evans

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    Michelle King

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    Adena Romeo-Ratliff

Biographical Information

What skills and experiences qualify you to serve on the Board of Education?

What are three current challenges facing public education in our school district, and how would you address them?

Several NJ high schools will be participating in a pilot program in 2020 to begin the school day at 8:30 am or later. What are your thoughts on this issue?

What responsibilities, if any, should our school district assume for dealing with societal problems such as poverty, hunger, emotional illness, or drug abuse?

What kind of accessible relationship should the Board members have with our communities' parents and families?

I have worked for over 20 years in the nonprofit and higher education fields, with the last 15 years primarily focused on civic & community engagement at The College of New Jersey and Princeton University. In my last role as the Director of Community Engaged Learning at TCNJ I worked with faculty members, students, non-profit staff & community members to develop courses which address local and community needs. Through my work & community involvement, I have gained experience and expertise in multiple areas applicable to the role of a board member. I have facilitated projects with schools & community members requiring communication and planning, as well as grant and budget experience. I have sat on boards & committees including the Trenton Prevention Policy Board & Minority Concerns Committee for Mercer County. More recently, I joined the board of LES PTO.
1.LTPS is a diverse district, socioeconomically and ethnically. It is important to maintain an equitable school district in which the staff and administration resemble that of Lawrenceville’s population. To address this I would: a) encourage curriculum that features people of diverse backgrounds, b) ensure documents are translated to multiple languages for parent awareness and engagement c) ensure employees receive training and education on different cultural traditions d) explore avenues to hire competent staff and administration that reflect the population of Lawrenceville. 2. We have a retention and success issue at LIS; as a result we are losing engaged children and parents from LTPS. Changes were made at LIS this year with the hiring of new leadership. LIS should be continuously monitored through assessment of student performance, coupled with feedback from students and parents. 3. Like many districts, LTPS struggles to maintain facilities with educational and staffing needs in a balanced budget. This can be done by expanding partnerships, and incentivizing staff and administration to seek grant opportunities which allow progressive education that help our children succeed.
Teenagers stay up later than younger children because they have more responsibilities such as homework, extracurricular activities and work in addition to their school attendance. Sleep is when our body gets rid of toxins and recuperates both mentally and physically. Inadequate sleep lowers productivity, performance, memory recall, and emotional regulation. This can lead to weight gain, emotional distress, and unhealthy eating habits among other side effects. If we want our teenagers to perform at their best, we should be creating a healthy environment, which includes school start times and end times that follow our natural circadian rhythms. I am in support of a later start time, but also recognize that positive and negative impacts must be evaluated and weighed.
As the saying goes, “It takes a village”. If we truly want to support our children to be successful, thriving members of our community, we need to support students and their parents in obtaining the information and resources needed to thrive. A single, struggling child can have profound impacts on an entire class. We should do our best to prevent children and their families from struggling with the issues listed above by school districts partnering with local social service organizations. Potentially offering educational sessions on the issues listed above, and partnering with PTOs and foundations to allow equitable access to events and services could have value. Schools can host information sessions for families and community members on trends they are seeing within our communities that our children and staff are facing, and discuss existing strategies that innovatively address these issues that have been implemented at other schools.
Research consistently shows that parental involvement in a child’s education enhances academic performance and can lead to positive impacts on a child’s behavior and attitude in school. Children with engaged parents also have lower rates of absenteeism (, April 2018). Given this, we should be encouraging and facilitating our parents to be involved and informed in the Lawrence Township Public Schools. I believe the board members should strive for transparency and encourage parental involvement with meetings and decisions when and where possible. The board can foster engagement from parents by posting meeting reminders on social media with agendas, offering flyers and postings in multiple languages, hosting committees and focus groups to gain parent insight on issues impacting the district, and offering meetings at different times. Board members can also attend school events on occasion to offer parents the opportunity to engage outside of meetings.
Twitter @jondauber
I have served for three years on the Lawrence Board of Education, working notably in the areas of Curriculum and Instruction (as the Chair of CIAPD), Personnel, Special Education as well as Community Relations & Legislative Affairs. I bring to the table over two decades of experience as a public school educator in Mercer County. I am in my 14th year as a building principal, with leadership experience at the elementary, middle and high school levels. I have a significant understanding of current trends, challenges and opportunities in public education. I am familiar with the NJ Department of Education’s expectations related to curriculum, instruction and assessment as connected to student learning & ultimately graduation from high school.
Ensure the needs of students and families who attend our schools are met. This is the essence of what effective schools look like. This means that instruction should look different for each student as teachers work to support growth and learning. Schools need to support teachers as to training and how it impacts practice.

Ensure students are taught in a manner consistent with 21st century learning. Students also need to be able to apply their learning in a global context. Educational opportunities need to expand beyond the expand classroom itself.

Mental health and social growth continues to be critical. Our public schools need to find significant ways to connect with community agencies and support pieces to work with schools and fa
Start times is a complex topic that cannot be answered fully here. If we look solely at the research we can say yes, we should move school start times back for students, particularly high school students given the research related to teenagers' biorhythms, etc.

If we look at the complete picture we must evaluate the impact of so many other things related to moving start times back. How does this impact families, after/before care, instructional time, transportation costs, etc?

If we have concerns over sleep deprivation among high school students, we need to incorporate smart phones into that conversation, from both a social and neurological perspective. The impact of cell phones on teenagers is a critical part of this discussion.
We can’t deny the impact of such societal problems as poverty, hunger, emotional illness and drug use on students and schools. Our schools become microcosms of the greater community and students will bring these societal issues to school with them each day and each year. Our schools have a responsibility to find ways to provide support and advocacy for children and their families. Schools can’t choose what they will address and what they will not address as everything in some way or another has an impact on a child’s learning and development; be it academic, social or emotional growth. Our schools will need to ensure collaboration with the greater community exists to combat these challenges and find effective, long-term solutions.
Board Members represent the public, not any different than members of Town Council for example. I think we should be willing to listen to what the public has to say, while recognizing that each of us as individuals, are part of the Board, not the Board itself. Structures should exist for community members to interact with BOE members as well. Currently, BOE members have district email accounts that the public often uses to reach out.

I also believe that the public should be informed about their representatives, understanding who they are, what they do as well as their contributions to the BOE. This is why we placed BOE member biographies on the website through our Community Relations Subcommittee.
In my six years of service to the Board of Education, I've chaired the committees on Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and Professional Development and Special Education. I've served on Community Relations, Negotiations, Finance, and as liaison to Every Child Valued and Town Council. My commitment to the children of Lawrence speaks for itself: I've held leadership roles throughout the community, including: founding member and president of what is now HomeFront; coached for Lawrence Rec and Lawrence Hamnett; MOMS Club; PTO; nine years on Lawrence Township Education Foundation including two as president; and now hope to keep moving forward with a third term on the Board of Education. Additionally, I have successfully navigated two daughters through Lawrence public schools and know what it takes to help them achieve their unique potentials.
Our schools need to attract and retain the best teachers, but we cannot raise our budget over the 2% cap. The challenge will be to find ways to honor the work of our phenomenal educators while staying within the budget. A major issue facing schools is the exorbitant cost of special education. I applaud Administration for tirelessly assessing ways to train staff to bring students back into District. Commonsense Special Education spending is a top priority. Transportation is an ongoing issue. Lawrence has tiered school start times so buses can go twice around the township, and they purchased buses driven by District employees.
I am excited about schools making changes to better serve the needs of students, but I'll reserve judgment until we see how the pilots go. Our families deserve to have a thorough investigation of the impact on student performance prior to committing to this. We have students who go to work after school, provide childcare for siblings and have afterschool commitments that would be affected by a start-time change.
I believe in a tripartite union of school, student and family to assume responsibility for finding the best path to move each child toward successful and productive citizenship to the best of his or her ability. Societal problems will find a home in our schools if we ignore them. Lawrence has been a leader in character education, equity and a renewed commitment to meeting each child where they are. I believe there might be only one adult between each child and a success story. I want to be that adult by my service to the Board.
In my tenure on the Board of Education, I have worked to make myself available as a conduit for parents to connect with the proper sources to resolve any issues. I do not speak for the Board or the Administration but when appropriate I share my experience. I consider myself approachable and continually attend school and community functions where I am never too busy to listen.
I earned my bachelor’s degree in Special Education at LaSalle University and have a master’s degree in Educational Psychology from Temple University. I completed my education at the University of Pennsylvania with a PhD in Educational Leadership. Since 2002, I have been an adjunct professor at The College of New Jersey in the School of Education, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in the Elementary and Special Education departments, and supervising student teachers.

I bring to the school board my practice as an educator, my study of how schools are managed, how classrooms operate, and how teachers are developed. Additionally, I have three years’ experience as a member of the Lawrence Township School Board. I have sat on the Curriculum and Instruction committee and Community Relations. As a member of the Superintendent search committee I was tasked with interviewing candidates for the superintendent position which resulted in the hiring of Dr. Ross Kasun. I have used my knowledge of and involvement with special education as a member of the Special Ad Hoc committee and have experience on the Negotiations committee as we soon begin negotiations with the teachers’ union.
The school board and administration have recently undertaken a broad evaluation of the district’s special education programs and practices. This evaluation identified multiple areas of both programs and practices to address. Issues have been prioritized over a three-year time horizon and, now, improvement plans have to be implemented.

Expenses in the areas of both special education and transportation are increasing at rates well beyond the state-mandated, annual 2% cap on school budgets. Such increases are far more than the district can continue to absorb while still meeting obligations to all students in the district and advancing the integrity of the instructional programs. Lawrence Township is not alone in this area and has much to gain by joining with county-wide forces or state-wide forces to address this issue.

Finally, we need to clearly communicate the nature of what this district offers to those not directly connected to our schools to ensure widespread community-support for high-quality education which will ultimately positively impact all current and future residents of Lawrence Township. I want our school district to Keep Moving Forward!
There is sufficient, quality research to support that inadequate sleep in adolescents is associated with increased risk of mental and physical health problems. We also know teenagers are biologically predisposed to going to bed later and waking up later. Thus, with a current high school start time at Lawrence High School of 7:45, most teens need to manage the health problems related to insufficient sleep.

Gov. Murphy has instituted a pilot program for several high schools in New Jersey to have a start time of at least 8:30 am or later for the next four years. Lawrence Township School District should observe this pilot program carefully, and thoughtfully consider the benefits and costs of adopting such a proposal in our own district. While a later high school start time clearly has its benefits for adolescents, we still need to consider the impact of this change on students who work after school, students who care for younger siblings, student-athletes, the district’s bus schedule, as well as other possible impacts.
Historically, school districts have elected to assume responsibilities for societal problems. State and federal regulations have required districts to assume such responsibilities as well. Lawrence Township, like other school districts, has instituted programs and practices to serve our student population who experience poverty, hunger, emotional illness, and substance abuse.

These programs and practices can create a burden for the district. So, a balance is necessary. If we maintain that our primary purpose is to educate the full range of needs of our entire student population, then, in so far as the issue impedes the district’s ability to educate, we should carefully consider what means the district has to address the particular issue for students in need. The means available to us needs to be balanced with our obligation to meet all other basic requirements and obligations to be the fundamental source of education for all students in the district.
The members of the public ought to have access to the positions and actions the school board takes. They should be able to raise their concerns, know that their concerns have been heard, and receive a timely response. The school board has recently taken measures to increase transparency and enhance communication with the public by increasing the detail of the reporting out by committees at public board meetings, giving more specifics as to what was discussed in those committee meetings while protecting personnel privacy and security issues. Concerns presented to the board by the public are assigned to one of the board subcommittees, addressed at that subsequent committee meeting, and then, the chair of the committee contacts the person with the concern to inform him/her of the discussion that occurred and the next steps to be taken.

The public ought to be able to follow the board’s business through meeting agendas, minutes, audio transcripts or through attendance at the meetings. Individual residents bringing issues or concerns to the school board ought to receive a prompt response on discussion that took place to resolve the issue or on action planned or already taken.
I have lived in Lawrence for most of my life and am a proud graduate of Lawrence Township public schools. Since obtaining my PhD in 2014 from Seton Hall University, I have been employed as a full-time nursing educator at Mercer County Community College. I currently teach the psychiatric nursing portion of our curriculum and am very passionate about issues surrounding mental health. In addition to being a nurse caring for our community for the past 20 years, I am also a mother of three school aged children. I am running for school board as I believe even though our schools are great, there are areas where we can do better. We have excellent facilities, and dedicated teachers/staff however; students today are more complex than ever before and require a more holistic approach. As a nurse, I am trained to assess, use evidenced based research to drive smart decision making, and use data to develop a plan which addresses the needs of a person or population, all while doing so in a cost-effective manner. This is a skill set that I feel as though could greatly benefit a school board and I am excited for the chance to hopefully volunteer myself and those skills to help create change.
I feel as though the three biggest challenges currently facing public education in our school district are: 1. The rising costs of education and all that it entails. 2. Educating an increasingly diverse study body. 3. Adequately preparing students for the future in today’s rapidly changing world If I am elected, I would plan to help address them all in the same way. As a nurse by profession, I am trained to use the nursing process for all issues that arise. This process involves the use of 5 steps including assessment (collecting data), diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation. By taking this step wise approach to understanding and breaking down problems, it allows you to gather information and data to formulate a plan, create the steps to implement the plan, and then circle back and assess the outcomes data to see if your plan worked. Tackling the challenges of ensuring high quality public education for all students requires a strong team and I hope to be elected so that I can be part of it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), good sleep hygiene in combination with later school times will enable adolescents to be healthier and better academic achievers. High schoolers live increasingly busier lives today than ever before. Be it due to all of the homework and reading required to stay competitive for college acceptance, participating in a variety of extracurricular/sports activities, working in after school jobs/watching younger siblings, or just falling prey to the everyday distractions of social and other types of 24 hour a day media, it may often seem like there just are not enough hours in the day. As it stands now most high schools in our area have adopted a policy of earlier start times for high school students which has left many students sleep deprived without the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Rising transportation costs and the need for staggered busing is a main reason why these times were adopted and if elected, I will look forward to reviewing the results of this study once it’s completed along with any innovative ideas that come forward to help balance both sides of this important issue.
NJ public schools consistently rank as the highest in the nation for quality. This is no small feat given the high level of diversity of the students that are served and our teachers do an amazing job. That being said, in order for students to be available for learning, certain basic human physical and emotional needs have to be met. Unfortunately, societal problems such as poverty, hunger, emotional illness, and drug abuse are issues facing many of our children today through no fault of their own and schools have a duty to address those issues if they want their students to learn and reach their full potential. Studies show that when students with these problems have those problems adequately addressed and supported, it helps improve outcomes for all. Ensuring schools are staffed adequately with counselors, nurses, social workers, and other professional staff can help meet educational goals for all students, and I am in support of those measures.
Being that Board members are elected officials charged with ensuring that our schools are run well with the public tax dollars being spent, I feel as though it is very important for them to be visible in the school community and available to speak with parents. Research shows that children of engaged parents have better overall educational outcomes. By Board members being available to speak to parents allows them to keep their fingers on the pulse of any issues that may arise and ensure accountability. I am happy every time I attend a school event for one of my children and see a Board member there as it shows that they care about the children they are serving and I also plan to remain visible and available to the community if I am elected.