I am running for election to the school board to be able to provide a direct input for the success of our students and to serve the community that has served me so well. I want to be able to assist our teachers as much as possible to be able to provide an education for our children that is enlightening, enriching and engaging. I understand the financial strains that school districts have and balancing the needs of our students in a fiscally responsible way. I believe that my professional background in auditing and accounting provides a unique insight on how we as a district cant meet the needs our students have.
I believe that one of the challenges that face the district includes maintaining the current curriculum and programs that are offered to students while trying stay within the restrictions of the 2% tax cap law. Another challenge that I feel deserves more attention is the accessibility to educational technology, (i.e. Chromebooks), for all of our students. Many, if not all, of our programs encourage the integration of technology, cloud computing, etc. If each student had access to their “own” Chromebook it would allow for seamless integration of technology into the curriculum which would help provide a more engaging and effective education. The challenge is being able to provide this within the current budgetary restrictions of the 2% cap law. I think we need to be creative on how items are allocated to be able to successfully meet these challenges while abiding with the State of New Jersey Rules and Regulations.
Societal issues are an inevitable truth when it comes to things that affect our students lives. In cases of childhood hunger and poverty schools often provide free and reduced meals and some even offer breakfast for students where this is an issue.I believe these are essential programs that should be provided for our students when necessary. In cases of emotional illnesses such as depression, anxiety i believe schools should have some resources to help on a daily basis. I do not believe that it needs to act as a replacement for full-time therapists or psychologists but schools should have at least some human resources dedicated to helping students who suffer from these illnesses.
Board members are advocates for the students and schools in the community, in that respect board members should be accessible to all the stakeholders of the district. They may not always have the answers on-hand but being available to the members of the community is a good way to promote transparency and collaboration.
I want to make a positive impact and better serve the children of our community and feel serving on the board of education is one of the best ways to accomplish this. I would like to ensure that there are strong programs at all levels of learning and that all of our children from special education and basic skills to the honors and gifted and talented are given equal attention and opportunities. Since I’ve been involved with the schools through the EPEF, the Odyssey of the Mind programs, PTO and various fund raisers, I see how important it is for a board member to understand as many aspects of the school community as possible, I’ve been involved with the schools for a number of years now and feel I can offer that cross-over, understanding both sides of issues.
I would like to see more parental involvement in relation to academics and learning from all parents. Parents and community members must have a strong vested interest in the success of the schools. That must go beyond social activities and fundraising to address student achievement head-on. Even when parents cannot be regular volunteers in the classroom, they can strongly impact their child’s learning by setting high expectations at home. I believe schools should make every effort to reach out to parents and give them tools to use at home to support their children.
The schools definitely have to be involved in any social issues that affect the student and ultimately the entire family. The schools offer assistance such as free and reduced lunches. Counselors are provided for social and emotional issues as well as assistance with drug issues. These are effective programs providing support to assist families in need and they should continue.
In carrying out its responsibilities, a board must engage in effective communication with school staff, students and their families, community members and others. Fulfilling the role of an elected representative of the community is challenging. Board members must also take into consideration that not all their constituents have school-aged children; they must be champions of the broader purpose that an effective public education system serves in building a highly-skilled, prosperous and cohesive society that benefits everyone.
Having always been a hands-on very involved parent, and a member of the various parents associations with each school my now 23 year old son attended in Ewing, I came to both see and also hear how students and staff alike need and seek more involvement from parents and the community. I am seeking a Board position because I do truly care about our Ewing students, the teaching staff and our community. I was raised in Ewing and attended all of the Ewing schools. My son has also attended the Ewing schools. And both as a parent and a resident, I know we need to stand and work together to provide the all students, school staff and Ewing families a quality education and guidance that will enable our future leaders to be successful and educated for the path they choose after high school. I feel that my own experiences with the schools and the school board as well on several matters in the past, along with my past and current community involvement afford me the insight and opportunity to know and learn more about students, staff, parents and residents. I am running for a seat on the Ewing school board because I want to be involved and be a part of a board who will continually seek and ensure the best for school community as a whole.
I feel the budget to be the most challenging for our Ewing school district. I feel that the Board has the responsibility of not only ensuring the schools are equipped to provide the services necessary to students, but also to keep taxes affordable for Ewing residents. As a Board member I will work with my colleagues to ensure we have a fiscally responsible budget that builds upon and maintains existing programs and services for ALL students while also keeping taxes affordable for residents like myself while staying within the 2% cap.
Another important challenge to the Ewing school district I believe is encouraging all students to pursue some form of post secondary education, whether that be college, vocational school, or a trade. I will work to implement and expand upon programs that provide students with access to the skills necessary to succeed in today's economy. I also feel that this challenge requires the school district to have a rigorous curriculum that prepares students for future success. However, that being said, a rigorous curriculum can only be achieved by having appropriate staffing and services to students and supporting the teachers and professionals tasked with educating our children.
One other important challenge that I believe is facing the Ewing school district is parental involvement. While teachers and staff are tasked with providing instruction to our students in the classroom, I believe it takes a whole community to educate our youth. That is why I feel parental involvement is so important. To address this I will work with my colleagues to promote opportunities for parents to engage with the schools by hosting town halls inviting parents to come ask questions and share their opinions, promoting opportunities for parents to be invited to schools for activities and events to actually see what their child's education is like, and promoting other programs and initiatives to build relationships with parents to help their children succeed.
School districts must recognize that many social issues impact our students who deal with these issues, and in turn this can hinder their learning and growth. That being said, the district should seek to build partnerships with nonprofits, social service providers, and the Ewing community to address these issues so that our children are able to learn and grow in the best environment possible. I also feel that the district must provide training to educate our teachers and staff about these issues and work with those on the "front line" to then work with students and their families to ensure each child can reach their fullest potential.
I also feel that the district not only is tasked with educating our youth with the skills necessary to succeed in today's economy but also with developing them int our community's future leaders. In order to accomplish this, I believe the schools should look for ways to encourage students to get engaged in the community through community service initiatives in order to have students learn about these issues and how they can work together to try and alleviate some of these issues that their peers may be facing. I also believe that it is crucial to build a sense of community within the schools so that all students feel accepted and safe and are then able to access any help they may potentially need while feeling included, accepted and a part of the school community.
As individuals elected by and held accountable by the public, I believe the Board and its members should be accessible to parents and the local community as much as possible. I believe that Board members should be involved in the community and be present at local events to offer opportunities for families, students and the teaching staff to engage with them, ask questions, and share opinions. I also believe the Board should work to encourage parents and the local community to get more involved and to connect with the Board by inviting the local community to events, town hall meetings, and encouraging attendance at Board meetings while encouraging attendees to participate and ask questions. As I mentioned previously regarding parental involvement, it takes a whole community to educate our children. I believe that this includes the Board, parents, along with teachers and staff, all working together and sharing ideas to improve our schools and best educate our community's children.
I am running for the board to help improve Ewing Schools socially and academically. We have fantastic kids and teachers, but we can strive to be better. We need to make sure our teachers have all the resources they need to be fully supported in providing a quality, student-centered approach to learning. As a board member, I will be dedicated to ensuring that our schools will compete successfully with surrounding districts and the way to do that is to actively work together with the administration to ensure that our teachers, educational support professionals, and students come first when it is time to make budgetary decisions.
The top 3 education issues the board must address are class size, classroom materials, and K-2 curriculum.
I hope to be able to return our K-2 curriculum to a more child centered, play driven program. Over the last 10-15 years our younger grades have become entirely too academic, leaving little time for the students to learn how to socialize and play. I was appalled at Back to School NIght that in both EHS and FMS teachers do not have enough books for a grade level to be teaching the same unit in ELA, and the Science books at EHS were in horrible condition. This is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Schools are a reflection of the community. We, as a community, have a responsibility to make sure our children and families are having all of their needs met. This includes food, shelter, and medical care. Schools have a responsibility to support our children and families in seeking out resources to help in times of dire need. However, our schools do have limitations. Our school personnel are not doctors. However, our teachers and counselors are often the people who recognize and report when children and their families are in distress. The school is responsible for making sure they are giving guidance and support in seeking out available services and resources. In terms of hunger, our public schools have an absolute responsibility to make sure our students are fed and healthy. Ultimately, providing a safe environment along with quality education, schools have a responsibility to make sure our future generation is well educated so they can do better than the previous generation. When we strive to provide both a quality education, along with social and emotional support, schools are an integral part of being sure we are addressing poverty, hunger, emotional illness, and drug abuse.
Board members should be fully accessible to parents and the community. All board members should have an open door policy and provide parents and community members with a variety of modes of communication including: email, phone, meetings, and social media. Board members are public servants and should be open and accessible at all times to their constituents.
I am seeking reelection to my 4th term. Should I be successful it will also be my last term. Being a lifelong Ewing resident and a graduate of Ewing High School, I know that Ewing offers a quality education. I saw that as my own children progressed through Ewing schools.
I initially ran for a position on the board because I was on the Antheil PTO Board for a number of years and being an involved parent I realized how many children in the district do not have a parent advocating on their behalf. As a member of the BOE no single person has the ability to make change on other own. However individual members have the ability to ask questions. To question why. Or why not. To spark conversation which leads to change.
During my tenure on the board I have done that, and I have held a number of board leadership positions. Through that experience I have intentionally attempted to set the example of what a board member should do to less experienced members. I encouraged them to get involved on various committees (negotiations, facilities, residency), so they have the ability to understand all facets of the issues brought to the board level. Knowledge is power and to have members empowered to make educated decisions, to know where or how they find all information needed to make those decisions, is something I have fostered. I believe strongly in responsibility and accountability.
Lastly, I feel strongly that I want to see the referendum projects through to completion
Ewing’s biggest challenge is the budget. Since 2010 we live in the world of 2% budget increase from the previous year’s budget. Complicating the budget issue is how the budget relates to the tax levy and ultimately determines the tax rate. Township ratables directly affect the tax rate. Ewing has a large amount of State government property which does not favorably affect ratables. While we have seen improvement in our commercial ratables, we are predominately funded through residential taxes.
Budgeting within the 2% cap and keeping the tax rate within a minimal increase while our expenses increase, is a continuous challenge year after year. Being realistic you have to look how those expenses are proportioned to determine where reductions will have the most impact to the budget while minimizing negative impacts to the student population. Facility upgrades and enhancement projects to be completed through the 2018 building referendum will make our facilities operational systems run more efficiently and cost effectively.
Beyond the obvious challenge of balancing the budget cap with the tax rate is the issue of maintaining the status quo of programs and class sizes and the ability to add new programs and resources to the classroom. For our students to be competitive in an ever-changing world of technology we have no choice but to evolve with it. Therefore, I support initiatives that utilize our budgeted funds more efficiently. I support programs that add value to the student experience whether it’s academics, sports, the arts, or other extracurricular activities.
Districts should have a large role in societal issues – a multifaceted one. First there is the issue of providing support to those students affected by poverty, emotional illness, drug abuse, etc. as these issues clearly negatively affect the student’s ability to learn. While there are some government funded programs in place to assist schools must also be cognizant of how those programs are administered so students don’t feel comfortable utilizing them.
I believe there is a moral obligation for districts to serve as a resource for other outside services. Families afflicted by these social issues typically need assistance in connecting with community service organizations, sometimes because of language barriers. Schools should be a haven for those who have no one else to turn to. Despite the unfortunate barrage of horrific events happening in schools today, I believe the bonds that exist between teachers and students are very strong enabling teachers to notice when help is needed…. or at a minimum when a student seems off and possibly need help.
In addition to the services and resources districts can assist those in need, there is also the obligation to teach students the values of community service, compassion and understanding. Schools are not just a place to learn academics but should be places to grow as a community. Practicing empathy and looking beyond your own needs is lesson for not only the students, but their parents as well!
Board members should be accessible and responsive to parents, students and community members. I feel an open dialog is imperative for the Board members to fully understand the perspectives of those stakeholders impacted by the decisions of the Board. That said, I feel it is equally important for those stakeholders to fully understand the role of the Board and the responsibilities of the individual Board member. I feel there is much confusion there.
The Board of Education has mainly five responsibilities – hire and evaluate the Superintendent, oversee the budget, approve curriculum, negotiate contracts, and adopt policies. Those responsibilities are for the Board as a whole. As an individual member of the board I do my due diligence to made educated decisions. The Board does NOT run the schools.
There are a number of ways Ewing stakeholders have access to board members - attend public meetings, communicate via district email and good old fashioned mailed correspondence. While the President of the Board is the person to whom all public comments are directed at meetings, trust that every Board member at the table is fully engaged and listening. Every email sent to me is responded to; while not all topics are ones a Board member has authority to deal with, I believe it's important to know that the information was received and acted upon in an appropriate manner.
We are in this together and will only succeed if we work together.