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

HOWELL TOWNSHIP BOARD OF EDUCATION - Full Term - Vote for ThreeMicrosoft Word - BOE-JobDescriptionForVOTE411.docx School board members in New Jersey are responsible for adopting policies under which the school district operates; overseeing the school district budget; approving the curriculum; hiring and evaluating the superintendent; representing the public during contract negotiations; and serving as a communication link between the community and the school system. Elected school board members receive no compensation and serve three-year terms, unless elected to fill an unexpired term when a vacancy occurs.

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  • Mark A. Bonjavanni

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    Laurence Gurman

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    Cristy Mangano

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    Joseph Tate

Biographical Information

What are the major challenges facing the community/district and how would you propose to address them if elected?

What qualifies you for this position, both personally and professionally?

What factors are critical to the quality of life/education in your community and what would you do to improve or preserve them?

Before I begin, thank you fore giving me the opportunity to participate in the is process. I would like to change the question slightly; “what are the challenges and the opportunities facing the district, and how would I address them”. Challenges is the easiest answer here. Like many districts, Howell has received a large cut in it’s state aid. This year alone, we are losing over a million dollars. How does one respond to this. Future Boards will be faced with decisions regarding programs, staff, professional learning development for staff, and employment expenses such as health care. Due to the fiscal responsibility this current Board and its recent predecessors has shown, we anticipate being able to survive these cuts without any negative effect on the students. The current Board has been very active in it’s Advocacy Issues. As Board President, I have attended a number of meetings with members of our State Assembly and State Senators, to discuss funding and other matters. These matters include the Path to Progress consolidation issues, testing, Special Ed funding, and other matters. I will continue, if re-elected, to be proactive in working to make political leaders aware of financial burdens. I also mentioned opportunities. There are many. We continue to focus on our curriculum, technology issues, and Special Education priorities, among others, to stay on top of the bar. We want to continue to lead here.
A common expression is that you want someone who can “hit the ground running”. I have been involved with the Board for over 20 years. First as an active member of the community, attending almost every meeting, for three years. I served on a number of the Board Committees, learning the business of the Board. I was ten appointed to the Board, and won a number of elections after that. I left the board for a few years, while working for New Jersey School Boards Assoc, helping to write and deliver training sessions to both new and experienced Board members across the state. After Leaving NJSBA, I ran again for the Howell Board, and was fortunate enough to be elected twice. I am currently the Board President. I have dedicated most of my adult life to Board of Education work. I have been been fortunate enough to have been asked to speak an State Conferences across the country, and have presented numerous times at National School Boards Conferences. This last March, I presented on The Key Work Of School Boards to over 200 attendees. I continue to volunteer my time to NJSBA as a trainer and Group Leader. In order to really devote one’s time to a Board of Education, one needs to be passionate about it. I have proven that over and over. This is not a stepping stone to political offices. It is non-partisan by nature, and should remain that way.
I believe in our staff. I think they are among the most dedicated teachers and aides in the state. I know that our current Administration is considered a model across the state. Our District is recognized as a model for programs such as ESL, Future Ready, and others. These are factors that mean something to the quality of both life and education. The District is known through the state as the only one with citizens serving on our many committees; I will also ways fight to preserve this practice. A Board needs to be representative of its entire community; what better way than to ask non-elected member of the community to help serve and participate in their children's education. Safety has to be a critical factor. We have developed an incredible relationship with our local Police Department. Chief Kudrick is also supportive of the District; I will do everything I can to continue that relationship. There are so many benefits that come out of it. It is a quality of life indicator when children see the officers daily, and are greeted by them with smiles and high fives. This does not just happen; we work at it. I will continue to make this happen. My goal, if fortunate enough to be re-elected, is to work with my fellow members and administration in efforts to develop a Community University. Programs designed to help both children and parents in coping with the pressures of today: peer pressure, vaping, bullying,. All are quality of life issues. Again, thank you.
My goals are to continue to focus on the following: providing a quality education for all of our students; using our tax dollars for education wisely and efficiently; and encouraging community participation in the educational process. The district should continue to foster a learning environment that emphasizes personalized learning, student empowerment and standards aligned student growth. Other critical issues include supporting the physical, social and emotional needs of all members of our school community and transforming educational settings through the use of technology to enhance progressive learning conditions. The school district should continue its responsible fiscal policies by promoting existing practices including: energy savings programs; shared services agreements; central purchasing; inventory controls; and long-term financial planning.
My wife and I have lived in Howell since 1976, and our two children are graduates of the Howell Township Public Schools. I taught European history for five years on a full-time basis at what was then Monmouth College. For the next 41 years I worked for the Office of Legislative Services. OLS is a non-partisan office that is utilized by all members of the State Senate and General Assembly. My work consisted of serving in a non-partisan capacity involving the analysis of policy issues, drafting legislation and assisting legislators as bills proceeded through the legislative process. I served as a member of the Howell Township Board of Education from 1987 to 1986. During that period, I was a member, at times, of the Education Committee, Finance Committee, Policy Committee, Community Relations Committee and Nutrition Committee. For a number of those years, I chaired the Education, Finance and Policy Committees. In 2005, the Howell Township Education Foundation was established and I have participated in its activities since its inception, including chairing HTEF from 2013 to 2016. HTEF is a non-profit organization that provides funds to teachers and other staff members who receive grants for developing and implementing innovative programs that enrich the curriculum for our students. In November 2017, I was elected to the School Board. Currently, as a Board member, I chair the Policy and Legislative Advocacy Committees, and also serve on the Education Committee.
As the School Board engages in the analysis and resolution of issues concerning our schools, I believe that it is vitally important to maintain the current collaborative effort among members of the School Board, the Superintendent of Schools, senior administrators, and faculty and other staff members. We should also continue the District’s extensive activities informing the residents in Howell of school programs, resources and policies. Also, it is important that greater attention should be given to explaining the changes in State law regarding the school funding formula so that the Howell community better understand the significance of these changes. As a result of this revised funding formula, State aid was cut last year by $1.2 million and was reduced an additional $1.6 million this year. By 2025, according to the formula, it is anticipated that the Howell Township School District will be experiencing a total reduction in State aid of approximately $13 million.

Here in Howell, we are blessed with an amazing school district and amazing teachers. Not every school district is as lucky as we are when it comes to this. With that being said, all districts across New Jersey are facing serious budget cuts due to state aid. Fortunately for us, our finance committee has does an amazing job making sure we have stayed fiscally responsible before this happened so that works in our favor. We do fave the challenges now of not receiving the money from the state so we will have to continue to work very hard to make sure our students are getting the education they deserve and at the same time making sure the residents are not hit with school taxes that it makes people want to move out of Howell. As a Board member and a resident of this town I feel this is the biggest challenge we will face but I do have the confidence we will be able to.
As far as what qualifies for me for this position, I feel the best thing is my ability to work with the community. I have worked on the Board for three years now, and am very engaged with our community. I have worked in several different committees which has helped me learn the different aspects of the Board. One of my favorite committees I have worked on is Community Interaction. It’s there where we come together as a Community to discuss key things going on. All topics are welcome. I have worked closely with our administrators to make sure safety is a key when it comes to our students. Safety is always my number one priority. I have been a voice when it comes to transportation issues. Last year, in addition to the training our bus drivers and aides receive we were able to get the Monmouth County Sheriffs office to come out to do additional training for our special needs community. The special needs community is s big passion of mine.This is a great step as the more training the better. Professionally as a nurse, I advocate for my patients on a daily basis so I do the same when if comes to our students and our community. I think to be in this position, you have to be very strong willed and be willing to fight when needed for what’s right. I have a proven track record of doing this. You also need to be approachable and be able to listen to what our community is saying. While we might not always agree or be able to fix every problem, the key is open communication.
We as a district are incredibly blessed with amazing staff for our students. I think by continuing to support our staff it will make an even better district than we are. The staff here in Howell goes above and beyond for our children. We also have a great working relationship with our Town Council and our Police Department. Working as a team to do what’s best for our children and our community is a key to success. With today’s pressure on children, I think we really need to pay attention to our students mental health and well being. The daily pressures our kids face are growing and we as a school district need to take that very seriously. Our children can’t learn if their mental health is not good. We have to look at students as a whole including not just academics but the mental health aspect as well. If I were to be re-elected, I would want to push this initiative a d find ways to get the community out And involved with participating in different workshops to see what parents are seeing at home and what we can do to support them. I would like to see our district be a leader in this and pave the way to seeing our students from not just the academic lense but from the lense of seeing each child as an individual all with different needs. Luckily for us, we have great teachers, administrators and community involvement that I believe this can be a huge success if we work together. I thank you for your assistance in preparing this for the citizens of our community.
With funding cuts from the state, we need to streamline services and expenses: We need to consolidate, in ways that don't affect the students, to keep costs down and ensure the long-term protection of the high-quality school system.

Transportation: We need to ensure proper transportation for all children to and from school, including safe bus stops with reasonable and safe walking distances.

Safety Cameras: As an innovative way to help keep our children’s commute safe, I believe we need to put cameras on the outside of school buses to catch anyone driving past while the bus is stopped.
As a father of two and husband of a high school teacher, I want to see our education system continue to improve. My experience as a parent, homeowner and small business owner will bring a unique perspective in an effort to modernize our schools and balance our budget.
Safety is a huge concern these days. And not just from the big scary events. but from the every day stuff. Something as simple as the other drivers on the road near our children getting on and off the buses. We need to ensure our kids are protected from these unsafe drivers by ensuring they have a safe bus stop that is a reasonable distance from their home, and put cameras on our buses to ensure no one gets away with going past a school bus when it has it's red lights flashing.