As a teacher of over 10 years and a Fair Lawn High School graduate, I have a unique perspective to improve the education in Fair Lawn. It is disheartening that since I graduated, the ranking of Fair Lawn High School according to NJ Monthly magazine changed from 47 to 89, while taxes have increased significantly each year. Thus, I want to reverse the downward trajectory of the Fair Lawn school system and to stop the continuous waste of taxpayers’ money. This will be accomplished by redirecting the flow of money from careless spending, to providing services that students need to succeed.
As a teacher, I have the skills and understanding of the complex issues that face the infrastructure of modern education. As a former student of Fair Lawn High School, I have the knowledge, passion, and energy to work toward improvement of our schools. With a B.S and M.S. in mathematics, I have the ability to analyze the budget and advocate for the changes that are needed.
In the next five years, my primary objectives are to improve education, transportation, and fiscal transparency without significantly increasing taxes. Firstly, I want to create free SAT prep classes which increase students’ SAT scores, leading to scholarships and better college admissions. This is currently not offered for free as an elective in the high school, and could be taught by current teachers without additional spending. Secondly, students in grades K-8 who are within 2 miles and grades 9-12 who are within 2.5 miles of the school should be provided an opportunity to have safe transportation to school at the parents’ expense to increase safety and accessibility.
Lastly, the board's budget currently can only be seen in the library for one school year. I plan to have the budget for the past 10 years be on the district website and an annual comparison between our school and other nearby districts to see how our spending compares and analyze areas we are not spending efficiently.
Social media is an integral part of how the board communicates with the public and it needs to be used to provide more transparency and better communication.
This includes posting the BOE meeting agenda a week before the meeting. In addition, members of our community should be able to write any questions or concerns, with the option to be anonymous. They will be able to submit these questions to the board through a website submission form which will be answered during the meetings for those community members that can't attend.
For communication about meeting times and major board votes, I want to create a twitter account for the BOE. This will along with the district website, provide real time updates to the community of Fair Lawn on major board updates and decisions. Any votes that have a major increase to spending or impact to students should be available immediately to our parents and the public. Access to this information should be easily accessible.
I am a resident of Fair Lawn since 2003.
I have taught mathematics in the past both in Russia and the U.S.
I am a financial professional (an actuary). I believe that the Board needs somebody with this skill set.
I have three daughters: a high schooler, a middle schooler, and a pre-kindergartener. I have a vested interested in maintaining the highest quality of education in Fair Lawn.
I have come to know three different Fair Lawn schools and have enjoyed the journey. I first became interested in the Board’s work eight years ago, and since then attended many meetings. I really believe that many important decisions are made by the Board and I want to be a part of the process because I have valuable skills to contribute.
1. All schools should have excellent test scores.
We want our schools to be known for academic success, after school and before school care options, clubs, sports and events that bring the community together.
2. "Soft borders" policy should be eliminated.
We need a long term solution to the population increase. Parents want children walking to school with their friends instead of driving to the opposite end of town.
3. The Budget should be developed collaboratively by the Board and the Administration. The Board should be assured that the Budget is as good as it could be.
Many residents are concerned with the high taxes. We want to ensure that the money is used efficiently.
4. Teachers should have a fair Contract. Negotiations should be more structured and amicable.
We have many talented professionals. We should strive to attract and retain excellent teachers who work in an environment that appreciates their skills and contributions.
Social Media is a part of our life. We cannot hide from it. I believe social media should be used as a communication channel between the Board and the Public.
Although certain rules of engagement could be developed and followed, social media could and should be used as an effective tool to inform the public about issues and the Board's work and to promote transparency.
Facebook is not the best place to make complicated policy choices. However, it can be a great resource for announcing Board meetings and making other key informational announcements. Social media must be used to bring community together not to create discord and negative feelings. We can advertise events, school gatherings, and clubs. School district has been and must continue to constantly evaluate and upgrade its websites, its communication channels with parents in order to make sure that Fair Lawn stays ahead technologically.
I am running to offer our community and Board of Education #newleadership through a new, diverse perspective. Fair Lawn enjoys a multicultural community and having our Board embody that same diversity will strengthen an inclusive educational environment for our schools. My background in Human Resources and experience in evaluating policies, organization culture and managing conflicts proves my determination, will and patience to get the answers we need to make informed decisions on the board. I will work to grow our Board to the next level where we seek out unique suggestions and innovative responses to our challenges and problems. This means more curiosity and openness to questions, opening the doors to ideas and suggestions that may seem unusual but create value with less judgement, and more patience. Through these behaviors, our district will provide a solid foundation: a safe inclusive environment that fosters creativity and encourages innovative ways of achieving district goals.
By 2024, I envision the following 3 achievements:
1 IMPROVED ENROLLMENT EXPERIENCE AND HEALTHY CLASS SIZES:
This means we will have appropriate spaces to support the Board's mission to foster academic, social, emotional, physical, and creative development in each student, without compromising on teacher to student ratios.
2 ENHANCED LIFE-SKILLS CURRICULUM FOR HIGH SCHOOL (including special education):
We need to do more to prepare our children to function in the world independent of academic preparation. The curriculum should expand to cover things such as voter’s education (how to register to vote, tax filing obligations etc.), managing conflict, preparing healthy meals, and expansion of mindfulness curriculum.
3 TECHNOLOGY TRAINING FOR STAFF:
Our 1 to 1 initiative is underway, but research shows a correlation between screen time and impact on mental health. Educators require training to ensure technology is being leveraged optimally without negative impact to health and safety.
When used correctly, social media is a powerful and impactful tool. However the risks of bullying, distraction and impact to mental health are real. I encourage our community to continue to make positive use of technology to disseminate information, source ideas and foster engagement with our schools. However, it is important to leverage it in a thoughtful manner to ensure that it is not abused and that the positive benefits are fully utilized. Effective policy making and guidelines around our district's use of social media can help mitigate the risks. However, I feel the strongest way to curb abuse is to supplement those guidelines with a community culture (parents, students and all school staff) where abuse of these tools is not tolerated.
I have two children in middle school and I am running because I want to be part of new leadership that will focus on the reality-based needs of moving our district forward. I am a two-term PTA President with an exceptional understanding of the day-to-day operations inside our school buildings and can identify opportunities to improve operational efficiencies and explore ways to supplement our primary budget.
I am the VP of the district PTA Council and have long-standing partnerships with the PTA/PTO leaders from all ten district schools, sharing information about the needs and challenges that face each individual school and their respective student/parent communities. I will bring this invaluable insight to the Board. I have an extensive communications background and as a trustee, I will promote positive and productive exchanges of ideas and concerns among the trustees and more comprehensive intercommunication between the Board, the administration and the community.
In five years, my vision for Fair Lawn schools includes an expanded 1:1 technology initiative that includes all grades in both high school and middle school. I will fully support our goal of creating a “future ready” learning environment that will prepare all of our students for college and real-life work experiences.
I would also like to see the continuation and expansion of our Mental Health initiative and our revitalized REACH program. In addition, I want to see more renewable energy ideas being implemented throughout the district, utilizing our students and challenging them with solving real world sustainability issues here at home. I also believe there would be great benefit to providing multi-lingual communications on our digital communications platform so that we are able to engage a greater percentage of our culturally diverse parent community in the events and activities that support our schools, including Board meeting recaps.
In order for social media usage to be effective, the content needs to be relevant and timely. Messaging should be proactive and provide information in the official voice of the Board, taking community feedback into consideration when necessary, and encouraging community involvement by providing them with real-time opportunities to participate in board meeting discussions and other forums.
I have served on the Fair Lawn Board of Education for 12 years, 2 years as past president. I have had the best interest of ALL CHILDREN at heart and wish to continue to contribute to the future of ALL CHILDREN. We have a district with a special education program that is known around the country. I am so proud of all our programs in Fair Lawn and can say that we prepare our youth as they go out into the world. I am dedicated, passionate and work tremendously hard for our town because I love Fair Lawn and our community. I believe that we need diverse perspectives on the board so we can make decisions based on all points of view. I have worked for an accounting firm for the past 28 years that audits school finances. I bring my knowledge of the audits to the table and share with my colleagues the many aspects of a school district audit. I have been involved in the district since 1995. My love for the district keeps me focused and working hard.
Our schools must provide a technology rich environment so ALL CHILDREN can be successful members of a digital society and workforce. I envision all Fair Lawn schools acquiring Future Ready Certification, a program that creates a school culture of digital innovation through the use of technology, digital content and media. The steps are to assess our current programs, update our technology infrastructure and then prepare Fair Lawn for a 1:1 Initiative. We will be rolling out 1:1 devices to 9th and 10th grade students starting later this year and expanding to additional grades over time. We are also expanding our popular STEAM Lab program to include two brand new state of the art STEAM Labs at each middle school next year. I also envision an Education Foundation for our district. The creation of an Education Foundation will help generate revenue and bring programs and initiatives that will benefit ALL CHILDREN in our schools.
In the last decade we have seen Social Media grow to be a chosen avenue of communication and instantaneous information is readily available. I feel that Social Media is a great tool which allows us to communicate with the public; however, we must remember to abide by the guidelines set forth by the New Jersey School Boards Association, which states that our BOE President is the only one to speak for the board. Over the last year, I am so proud to see how Fair Lawn Public Schools have utilized their Social Media platform to showcase all the great happenings in our schools thanks to our Communications Liaison. We all know how great Fair Lawn Schools are and now thanks to Social Media, everyone in the world does, as well.
I have lived and served Fair Lawn for over 45 years. The BOE is the only elected position that involves mandatory training and I spend a lot of personal time training and learning.I have done seminars on shared services. Our board is one of few master boards in the county. I am a teacher in a 5-8 middle school. This gives me a unique perspective as we watch our 5th graders move up. I have held many positions in emergency services, Scouting, Sunrise Rotary, and more.I know our town. I held the position of board President for over two years. My best skill set, I believe, is that four generations of my family live in town. I see my in-law seniors struggle with taxes,my son deal with issues raising 5 children, 4 in our schools, and I have raised two children, one special needs, in town. I feel my strength is being able to look at the big picture on how things affect all of our schools and all of our students. I have a great understanding of the challenges of today's youth and families.
My vision for Fair Lawn is to continue to be a high performing school district. Once we have the enrollment numbers under control, and have lowered class sizes, I believe we are going to continue to strive higher and higher. I think there will be more of a push to bring vocational programs back to the district. Technology initiatives that began this year will continue to grow as we keep up with 21st century learning. Mindfulness and character programs will have expanded as our district continues to be even more diverse than ever before. I am hoping that the state will fund our schools in a way that will stabilize our taxes. After school activities will keep expanding as we find different ways to help our working parents out. We will continue our great relationship with the police department and borough to keep our students safe. I believe that our district will continue be an example for the rest of the state to follow and that we will continue to strive to solve any issues.
Social media is a double edged sword and it has been a serious discussion for a long time. Everyone knows I use social media too much. A lot of good information goes out on social media but many inaccuracies go out as well. Protecting the rights and privacy of our students and staff comes first and foremost. Making sure something stated is accurate and doesn't become "the truth" when it isn't, is also an issue. I think the frustration from the community comes when they can't hear certain things by law. I get it. All public meetings, unless closed by law, are streamed live or taped, and you can watch them at your leisure. We have tried to get Fair Lawn TV to air meetings, and they have said as few times before that they can't. I believe that the administration's job is to keep the public informed, with direction from the board. We have a facebook presence now and continue to improve that. It is easy to reach the staff and the board and we have a new easy to use website.
I am running because I want to be part of #newleadership for Fair Lawn schools during this era of great change. My children are in high school and elementary school, and the Board is in dire need of fresh voices from the perspective of the current school parent. As a communications professional with experience in both non-profit and advocacy, I will use my expertise to facilitate more effective engagement with the community. That includes a better understanding of the budgeting process and a higher level of accountability for the administration in all areas.
I served on the Board in 2014 and I have a good rapport with the current administration which will allow me to hit the ground running as an effective Board trustee.
Now that Fair Lawn is finally engaging in 1:1 devices for high school freshmen and sophomores in 2020, I will continue to support pushing the envelope in giving our children more access to today's and tomorrow's technology to prepare them for success after Fair Lawn High School.
By 2024, I want to have helped shepherd key district initiatives such as REACH, which has been stagnant for a decade until it came back into focus under the new Superintendent in the past year, into fully formed programs that give every child a chance to learn and grow to the best of their abilities.
I'm genuinely excited about Fair Lawn's long-awaited transition to a 21st-century "Future Ready" district. By 2024, I hope we have created an environment where our children are learning and participating in highly sophisticated, interactive classrooms that maximize engagement and individual potential. "Classrooms of the Future" should be classrooms of the present in Fair Lawn.
I feel strongly that there's a right way and a wrong way to use social media as an elected official. I've seen recent evidence of both from Board of Education trustees and candidates.
I've spent several years managing social media accounts for brands and I am acutely aware of the risk/reward associated with engaging people on Facebook and other platforms.
In the hands of the right person, social media is an extremely effective communication tool for a Board trustee to keep the public informed, to crowdsource ideas, and to receive feedback.
I would like to see the Fair Lawn Board of Education utilize social media as a way to encourage a higher level of community engagement. On several occasions, residents watching a Board meeting on the relatively new live stream on YouTube have contacted me with questions or thoughts during a meeting. I have been able to prompt immediate action by relaying those questions or thoughts for them during the public comments portion of a meeting.
I’m running for reelection to the Board of Education because I strongly belief that education is the most important gift we can give to ALL CHILDREN. It is our responsibility to see that ALL CHILDREN have the tools and the opportunity to become productive members of society whether in a profession or a trade. I have committed my life to that belief. I have brought a unique and multifaceted perspective to the board in the 15 years I have served including 2 ½ years as president and chair of multiple committees. I have 40 years in education, 29 years teaching grades 7 – 12 here in Fair Lawn. I spent many years involved in training teacher both in the classroom and at Montclair University. I have been and am a PTA member. I am a parent, grandparent, senior citizen and taxpayer. We need these diverse perspectives on the board so we can make decisions based on all points of view and represent all the stakeholders in Fair Lawn.
My vision of our schools 5 years from now is expansion of mental health and wellness initiatives to address the emotional needs of ALL CHILDREN in an ever more stressful world. I envision more and more partnerships with other educational institutions, including colleges. This year our high school began a partnership with Bergen Community College enabling 14 students who enrolled to complete 2 years of college by the time they complete high school. I envision more development of Career and Technical Education Programs (CTP) for students who are drawn to the trades through partnerships with our community as well as creating our own in-house programs which also include work place readiness for our special needs population. In this rapidly changing society, I envision a district that successfully meets the needs of ALL CHILDREN. I envision a school district open to whatever may emerge in 3 or 4 years that we have not yet envisioned. We must make room in our brains for "tomorrow's things!
Social media is a driving force in our society today. We must embrace it and harness its positive power as another vital communication tool. Recognizing this, the school board approved the hiring of a Community Relations Liaison to oversee our district Facebook page which is verified to ensure all posts are official district posts and also oversee our website and our Instagram and Twitter accounts. Our board is presently reviewing a social media policy and will begin public discussion in October. I personally use social media within the guidelines set out by the NJ Department of Education Administrative Statutes and the recommendations of NJ School Boards. When posting, I must acknowledge that I am a board member and I am expressing my opinions not the opinions of the board. I cannot reveal anything discussed in closed session, I cannot undermine the position of the board, and I cannot speak for the board. Only the board president is our spokesperson.
I am running for the Board of Education because I want to bring a voice to the table that is not being heard right now. The Students' Voice. I am currently a student at Rutgers University - Newark majoring in Economics and Biology. Having the voice of a student on the board of education has never been so important. Our school system is rapidly evolving from what it used to be. The way we learn is far different from the times of the past. Homeworks and assignments are completed online, notes can be taken with a keyboard instead of a pen. As such, our board of education must evolve. It must include the voice of a student who has first hand experienced the challenges and benefits of a 21st-century school system. That is why I am running for a seat on the board of education, and I hope you will consider me for one of your votes. Please visit my website humza4fl.com for more information.
As more families continue to move into Fair Lawn, we must ensure that we continue to expand our school system to ensure we do not let the quality of our education deteriorate. We must continue to increase the number of teachers in our school system, to ensure that even as the number of students in our system expands, each student will continue to get the individual attention necessary to learn. We must continue to innovate by introducing the newest technologies to our school system. Our school system cannot stay as is if we hope to continue to be one of the best school systems in the country. School expansions, increases in staff, and technological advances will ensure that we continue to be the epitome of what a public school system should be. Fair Lawn schools 5 years from now will be larger, better and continue to be among the best in the country. But, we will not remain the best if we do not innovate.
Using social media is absolutely necessary to be able to communicate with the public in an effective and transparent way. Board members should be accessible to the public, both physically and virtually. Although social media should not be the only way to communicate with the public, other traditional forms of communication are absolutely necessary as well.