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Montgomery Township School Board {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The MontgomeryTownship Board of Education consists of nine members, who serve without pay for three-year terms.The Board's responsibilities include: setting and evaluating policy, establishing goals, overseeing that the district and the schools are well run by the administrators they have hired, and adopting a fiscally sound operating budget for the school district. Board members act on the Superintendent's recommendations, meet withcivic groups, and receive input from parents, students, and community members.
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    Paul Blodgett (N) Financial Risk Manager

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    Paul M. Johnson (N) Associate Vice President, Enrollment Mgmt

  • Amy Miller (N)

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    Ranjana R. Rao (N) Management Consultant/ volunteer chapter leader Room To Read(NJ)

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Biographical Information

What personal and professional experiences have prepared you for serving on the Montgomery Township Board of Education?

What do you consider the most important challenges facing Montgomery Township Public Schools, and how would you address those challenges?

"Physics First" is an example of a controversial program. What changes to the curriculum, if any, do you believe should be implemented, and why?

Do you see the anticipated short-term decrease in school population as an opportunity or challenge, and why?

How can the Board and the school administration ensure that every student feels respected and fairly treated regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender?

The arc of my professional career has led me to a deep understanding of organizational management. As a submarine nuclear engineer officer in the US Navy I was responsible for ensuring compliance with the detailed requirements of the reactor plant and all systems to keep the ship safe and mission ready. In my current job, I oversee my firm’s global operations and manage operational risk, which is just a fancy way to say that I make sure the company’s strategy is being carried out and executed properly at all levels. As a board member I will apply the skills learned over my career, professionally and faithfully.
The most important challenge is maintaining Montgomery’s high standards of excellence and to ensure that the educational needs of all our community’s children are met or exceeded. I would make sure this is addressed by providing the teachers with the tools, training, and freedom to do their job. The school administration must serve to facilitate the teachers and manage a safe and healthy learning environment, my job would be to oversee that these two objectives are always being met and that none of our actions are getting in the way of our own success.
The recent Strategic Review showed that our school’s performance in the sciences were above average in all respects. The Review also showed that there is a strong concern, particularly from the parents, over the stress and emotional strain of teaching physics in the Freshman year. The main point being that the students aren’t mathematically prepared for the rigors of physics at that age. I appreciate these concerns; however, do not think major structural changes need to be made to the curriculum. The school board must communicate, to the parents, students, and teachers in the program, that Physics First is intended to be conceptually-based and not mathematically rigorous and will provide the best foundation for future STEM success. The effort made over this summer to provide a scaffolding introduction to the modular nature of the course is commendable, but more effort is needed to standardize the instruction, testing, and grading across the teachers in the physics department.
A decrease in the student population would be both an opportunity and a challenge. It is an opportunity in that it would reduce student to teacher ratios in classrooms and enable more direct counseling services and individualized attention for students in need. It is a challenge in that, as the population has previously grown, the administrative costs have commensurately increased and now those expenses are relatively fixed. If the population decreases, there will have to be difficult choices to make in cutting administrative expenses or risk the per-pupil cost to exceed that of other schools in the region.
Montgomery should be proud to call itself a community of diversity and inclusion. Our school policies, procedures, and customs should embody these values. The Board should recognize if these values are not being upheld and take immediate action to correct. The school administration should be proactive in looking for opportunities to engage students and parents from minority groups. I was encouraged to learn recently that the teachers have taken extra steps to create a network of second language speakers to more effectively communicate with parents who may not speak English as a primary language in the home, which by the way, did not come at any additional cost to the budget. A goal of the school should be to determine if there are achievement gaps among different populations and then work to close any gaps.
My wife, Dr. Beryl Johnson, and I have enjoyed raising two amazing daughters, now in 9th and 11th grades, in the Monty school district since 2004. It is with profound gratitude for living in this wonderful community, and having been encouraged by parents, teachers, and school staff, that I am seeking to serve the Monty community as a board member. I have developed positive relationships with school staff through attendance at parent-teacher meetings, school activities, and volunteer work including the K-4 Strategic Planning Committee and chaperoning various overnight trips. Serving as AVP of Enrollment at Rutgers, relevant experience: *Selective college admissions: scholarship\honors selection and service on national committees. *Strategic Planning *Educational research experience plus BA in Math, MS Stat, Ed.D. stats and measurement. *Innovation & entrepreneurship: with a motto of “service, innovation, impact!” the team I created at RU led to a successful software company.
1. Continued review and implementation of Strategic Plan--the compass for the district. 2. Review of grading practices (5th grade and up, especially high school) and course placement approaches reflective of our premier district and long-term goals for our children, which impact not only student learning and social-emotional well-being, but also weighted GPAs and selective college admissions. 3. Curriculum review, not only in the sciences, including course sequencing and availability of academic elective courses outside of basic NJ high school graduation requirements. 4. School start times, especially for high school students. I would advocate for a collaborative, enthusiastic, and strategic approach to address these challenges: Vision->Environment & Benchmarking->Goals->Strategies->Action Plan->Tasks with progress metrics->Review & Revise.
While Physics First and science in general, based on the Monty strategic planning survey earlier in the year, drew attention based on their relatively weak perceptions, I believe we could: A. Look closer (e.g., via more in-depth survey and focused meetings) at what specifically students, parents (especially those in science careers), teachers, administration, and others think could be improved and how. B. Perform benchmarking with peer and aspirant high schools (including science magnets) and reference available secondary research regarding best practices for outstanding and visionary science & Physics education. C. Conclude with collaborative recommendations for enhancements or significant curriculum changes, including an action plan with an evaluation component for further tweaking as needed. If we agree upon an innovative/novel approach to a subject such as Physics, I'd propose considering co-requisites (e.g., math) as well as smooth transitioning (i.e., intro in 8th grade science).
Class size is historically one area in which Monty has not excelled, and the ramifications of this were evident in the strategic planning survey results. The school population decrease represents an excellent opportunity to reduce class size and incrementally improve the level of personalization and attention teachers can provide to students and parents.
“Creating Confident, Compassionate, and Successful Learners” is proclaimed prominently on our school web sites and literature. “Maximize the Social-Emotional and Academic Growth of Every Student” is the first goal listed for our district. In addition to continuing to ensure that student and teacher educational programs for celebrating the wonderful diversity and values we have in Monty are as exceptional as our educational community’s academic achievements, the Board and administration can ensure that opportunities students and parents have to communicate any issues in relation to fairness and respect are clear, and dealt with consistently.
Current Elected Position Vice President Montgomery Board of Education
My professional experience involves Clinical Nutrition practice, Pharmaceutical Sales and Training. I have lived in Montgomery for 18 years with my husband and 3 sons. My sons have been in the Montgomery School system since Pre K/kindergarten, the oldest is now a Junior in High School. Montgomery has provided an excellent learning environment, with amazing teachers, administrators and staff who inspire our students everyday. I was elected to serve on the BOE in 2014, am currently the Vice President and Chair of the Communications Cmte. Many improvements have occurred over the last three years, the board is well organized, efficient, respectful of all opinions/input, and more transparent. Some of our accomplishments include a savings of three million dollars by refinancing the bond referendum, over one million dollars saved in healthcare costs, open collaboration with the Teachers and Administrators, elimination of the activity fee, and a reduction in out of district placement.
The challenge is to maintain a premier district while practicing fiscal responsibility. Montgomery receives less than 10% funding from the State, so Montgomery has to provide 90% funding for our schools. The BOE has been working diligently to stay within the 2% cap to maintain excellence without having to raise taxes. We are involved in a Strategic Planning process to evaluate data from teachers, administrators, students, parents, and community members. The board/Administration have established goals which will provide a vision for the next 3 to 5 years. It is important that this process involves all members of the school community, it must be a collaborative effort to be successful.
Is Physics the best science program for all Montgomery Freshman students? Last Spring students came out to speak about this physics program. The theme from both sides was that the students were very stressed, had difficulty with the material, and suffered emotionally during this Freshman science program. We should challenge our students to be innovative thinkers, but at what costs? Are we turning students away from science because they are unable to succeed in this course? We need to provide a choice for all students, let them decide if they want to take Physics in 9th grade and provide alternate science for others. We also need to expand our science program to prepare our students for 21st century jobs. Provide career pathways, i.e. Biomedical Sciences, Engineering, and Psychology. Some public high schools in NJ provide college credit upon completion of a specific pathway. We should offer our students choices so they can achieve the best opportunities for their future.
The district completed a Demographic study in 2015. There have been new housing developments under construction which can potentially increase the student population. The board is determined to stay within the budget, which can present a challenge when no increase in state funding is provided while the population may rise. We will continue to work diligently to provide educational excellence while staying within the 2% cap.
Montgomery schools must ensure that every student feels safe, respected, and valued regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity. The BOE has advocated for eliminating the achievement gap so that all students are successful. The Strategic Plan involves goals to improve the Social Emotional experience for our students, for them to have "strong social and emotional skills, resiliency, and compassion for others". This is all crucial to our "Portrait of a Graduate", a "Socially Aware Individual, Ethical, and Responsible Citizen".

(Please go to the Montgomery School District website to review the Strategic Plan)
I am an experienced business consulting professional with a graduate degree in public policy and management . Having worked with large and complex organizations, I understand and appreciate the importance of stakeholders engagement. I am a consensus builder and a common sense based leader. As a volunteer chapter leader NJ for “Room To Read”, an international NGO that works in literacy and gender equality issues globally, I often reach out to our community and corporations to raise awareness and funds for the cause. My skills will complement the need for policy and operational decision making at Montgomery School Board. Last but not the least my recent experience with my son through the high school to college has made me aware of opportunities and challenges we have at our school. I also have a daughter who is a 6th grader and loves the lower middle school.
Our children are feeling the pressure of being successful earlier in life and this can be observed as early as in elementary and middle school students who have experienced health and mental concerns. This is a major challenge for our schools is to address academic related stress and overall well being of every child from kindergarten to high school.

No reform will work unless you have the people actually responsible for implementing it are at the table so involving teachers is a must.Learn from other school districts and collaborate with third party agencies to design a curriculum that not only addresses the knowledge and skills needed by our students today but also to build and develop a standard delivery of this curriculum that considers difference in learning styles of students. Improve efficiency - offering Financial literacy during study hall will give students options to explore Further emphasis on mutual responsibility towards each others well being in school and outside
We cannot ignore the district wide survey results, high school students and parents testimonials at various school board meetings that this program is not working for every one. We have data of over a decade now and we cannot deny that progressive changes needs to be made to create a more inclusive and nurturing environment for our students. No one should be made to feel left behind.My goal is to examine the best way to engage our students in science so that they are able to thrive and reach their best potential and be fully engaged students. One option certainly can be offered like some of other school districts in our state do is by giving a choice to study e.g Biology instead of Physics. Also look closely at how can we improve the current Physics delivery across all classes. We are fortunate to have teachers like Mr. Bushka who has inspired many students. We must try and replicate that teaching technique and model that has helped students.
Any short term decrease in student population in my opinion is an opportunity to iron out any curriculum or delivery issues so that the capacity building that needs to be done for the new housing developments that will start sending students to our schools in the next 2-3 yrs and also home turnover. The challenges will be in budget integrity and classroom size.

I would support and encourage our board and school administrators to continue to bring new programs and curriculum that helps our students to be not only academically strong but also have cultural awareness programs. The Heritage day at LMS is a great example. Many positive changes are already underway and I would support the districts efforts to hire teachers and administrators that are reflective of the student population. A more active role for our guidance department where we openly discuss importance of diversity and race with our students and empower them with knowledge at an early age.

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