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Franklin Township School District - Somerset County {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The mission of the Township of Franklin Public Schools is to develop the unique potential of each individual student and create global learners through a challenging and diverse curriculum in a positive learning climate that promotes the development of the whole child and fosters respect for all students.The election is for three Board of Education members. Each serve a three year term.

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  • Nishita Desai

  • William “Bill” Grippo

  • Karen Masters

  • Candidate picture

    Thomas R. Palczewski

  • Parul Patel

  • Candidate picture

    Michael J. Smith

  • Devakumar Villuri

Biographical Information

Looking ahead to a post-pandemic future, what are we learning from the impact of the COVID-19 public health crisis on school operations that will change how our schools operate in the future?

What are your short-term and long-term plans to address the budgetary and economic impacts of COVID-19 in our schools?

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Campaign Address 199 Pierce Street, Apt. 1017 Somerset NJ 08873
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We learned to expect the unexpected and be prepared. This is something no one ever imagined and schools just like most businesses were not prepared to deal with such a tragedy. In the future schools must think and prepare for this type of attack on human health with the same intention we paid to protecting our schools from outside intruders that may harm our students. Everything we are learning now must be studied and reviewed in such a way that schools are ready for a pandemic of this nature, it will be an ongoing priority that school systems must readjust to.
A shift in priorities is essential in this area of budgeting. We must hopefully work with state and local government to prevent waste and duplication of effort in areas of school facilities, HVAC, prevention and PPE supplies. The impact of this budget concern must be taken seriously with long term planning and re-allocating resources.
Campaign Address 38 Garden Avenue Franklin Park NJ 08823
Covid is showing us tons of things about our society and about ourselves. This is terrible time, but living through this uncertainty and the social restrictions has helped me to really appreciate traditions and the the good things in life, too.

When things normalize, I want our students to be able to enjoy their daily lives. Some of our schools are run like prisons. Maybe they need to be, but I don't think so. I'd like our children to be given the chance to be happy. We need to encourage social opportunities and friendships among all the peer groups within our schools. We already prioritize STEM classes, but our students should be allowed to experience the beauty of the arts as well. Our children can have field trips to museums and should to be exposed to theaters filled with music and dance. I know that sometimes school needs to be tedious, but I also want our schools to be places of beauty, excitement, friendship, and fun. I think students in Franklin deserve happiness.
Did you know that our school district spends 17 MILLION dollars a year to send children to charter schools? Stopping this spending would really help to make up for budget shortfalls.

The United States promises free and mandatory education for all students, which helps to level the playing field for everyone. Unfortunately, too many residents of Franklin have been mislead into thinking that charter schools are fancy and exclusive, and better than our public schools. They're not. Parents who send their children to charter schools have given in to their worst impulses, and the reality is that these schools contribute A LOT to racial and ethnic segregation within our community. They're just modern day segregation academies.

We need these parents to understand that our schools should reflect the strength of our community, and that it's okay for their children to be friends with kids from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Charter schools are unpatriotic and a big scam.
Campaign Address 8 Amberly Court Franklin Park NJ 08823
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The pandemic caused much short-term pain within the education process. However, the pandemic has also pushed us into the future by accelerating the use of computers within the educational process. Teachers will need to develop new lesson plans that effectively utilize technology as a method to successfully educate students.

Teachers will be required to blend the use of computers within their daily traditional classroom activities. Many students are very receptive and are already very knowledgeable of how to use a computer. Efforts must be made to ensure that all students have internet access.

Once this is accomplished, future emergencies that require distance learning will appear to be a minor inconvenience and possibly welcomed rather than a situation where no one is prepared.
Short-term budget reductions should include various transportation and cafeteria costs. Additional savings should be accomplished for cancelled extracurricular activities and associated stipends. The extent of the short-term cost savings is dependent on whether the current Board of Education takes the appropriate measures to ensure that employees are not paid for those services that are not performed. Cleaning costs will fluctuate based on classroom activity.

The Franklin Township Board of Education should use the School Reserve Account (or other under-spent line items) or if available utilize State funding to cover the cost of computers and computer support provided to students.

Computer support and the assignment of computers to individual students should be permanent which will result in additional on-going costs. The increased implementation of technology should not result in increased staff salaries because the use of technology is required for all teachers.
Campaign Address 28 Brookside Drive Princeton NJ 08540
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During these unprecedented times, it is paramount that we ensure a safe and healthy environment for our children, staff and administrators when returning to school. For this transition to occur, we should ensure that the appropriate safety protocols are in place to effectively sanitize our facilities and that we follow safety guidelines such as social distancing and wearing a mask for everyone. This would mean all schools and buses are sanitized daily, temperature checks and providing masks when needed. Also, making sure the air quality is acceptable by maintaining the HVAC systems properly. In addition, the pandemic has shown us the critical importance of technology. We all use technology every day, however we learned during the pandemic that there are significant challenges implementing technology in every home. There was a significant technological learning curve with virtual learning from both staff and students. These will be challenges for our school system leaders, but we can overcome it by working in collaboration with our community and school leaders.
The pandemic has created new challenges for meeting budgetary requirements. It is critical that we create a sustainable budget which supports the children, staff and administrators as our number one priority. I would also explore different options for federal funding and allocate a part of the CARES act money to adjust for likely budget cuts.
Campaign Address 1008 Canal Rd Griggstown, NJ 08540
For the past 15 years, Mike has been a proud resident of Franklin Township where he and his wife have two children at FHS. Mike has been a member of the Highly Functioning FTPS BOE since 2018. Great strides have been made in our schools including the opening of Claremont School and the district being designated by NJQSAC as a High Performing District for the first time. Mike has contributed to this success through support of the stable administration, teachers, staff and most importantly the students as chairs of Policy, Communications and Professional Services and member of both Finance and Facilities committees. These accomplishments have also been achieved with nearly ideal tax implications even with the ever increasing pressures of funding experienced by the district.

Mike wants to help continue this progress as there is still work to do. As you know, there is no place like Franklin and a variety of solutions are needed to address helping our children be the best that they can be.

When not donating time to the BOE, Mike is a research scientist finding new ways to help bring new medicines to patients. He has been educated in both parochial and public schools, has a BS from Kent State, a masters degree from MIT, and a PhD from Princeton. As a strong supporter of trade and career readiness education, Mike also trained as an apprentice cabinetmaker and would like to bring aspects of shop class back to our students.

Mike can be found supporting Franklin Field Hockey, Football, FMS (SGS and HSC players) Drama and various District Art events.

Mike asks for your support for not only himself but also for Nishita Desai and Parul Patel. Continue the Progress and Choose all Three for Franklin BOE

Firstly, to address the current situation: Having a registered nurse for a wife, I have been very aware of the both the severity of the virus and effective protection procedures. If the appropriate safety precautions are met, we can start to begin to return to in-school learning. That being said, in Franklin, there are soon to be had answers about the safety of our buildings and cohort plans that will allow an appropriate decision to be made to return to in-person learning. I do not want to return unless the science indicates we can do it safely. My concerns are not just for the district in general, but also personal, as I have two children in the high school. In the meantime, the district is improving our remote learning capabilities as students, faculty and staff learn the new systems and adapt to these unprecedented times. The effort by all in the Franklin community should be recognized as this is somewhat of a unforeseen sea-change. We can do it together and get through this!

When we finally get through this pandemic, we will capitalize on the knowledge gained. We will know which facilities might need improvement and will be noted in the district long range facilities plan. This will allow focused effort And action to ensuring safety long-term. We may be able to leverage the science of school start times which supports later start times for middle and high schoolers.
Safety is my number one priority for the short term. This has been reflected by both my actions and the current #1 district goal for the year. We will ensure a safe learning environment before returning to regular in-person learning. As for economic impact of the short term, Franklin is in good position to deal with the virus due to prior sound judgement by our current board and administration. This has allowed the district to financially deal with the pandemic. Longer term impact is yet to be realized but predictions include possible budgetary constraints. If that occurs I am prepared to make appropriate choices to ensure safety for all while continuing the FTPS to give the education that a NJQSAC High Performing district can!
Campaign Address 72 Vermont Avenue Franklin Park NJ 08823
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Pandemic opened our eyes to immense amount of work needed to be done to address critical school operations and at the same time allowed schools to reinvent themsleves to function at normalcy as quickly as possible. Going forward schools should be able to be prepared not only to deal with COVID-19 alone, but any such pandemic that comes our way. Mainly around dealing with COVID-19 schools should be prepared to implement required technology to do some of the following to operate in future: 1. Thermal screening as kids walk-in instead of having to check each student 2. Have testing kits readily availble to test in real-time in the school on need basis. 3. Automatic sanitization as students enter using latest technology to auto spray disinfectant 4. Daily spraying of common areas and classrooms to spray disinfectant on daily basis
Short-term: With COVID-19, sure there are areas where schools or school district able to save money on travel and loding, which presume takes decent amount of budgent portion, any such savings should be re-evaluated to direct those available or surplus funds for COVID-19 related expenses. Continue to encourage to follow suggested guidelines from CDS to control the spread. Work to include teachers and school staff in the first batch of vaccines receipients.

Long-term: 1. Evaluate the current contracts for school cleaning, and invest into more automated cleaning mechanisms to implement on large scale. This may mean initial investment but over long run the recurring costs would be saved and should see dividends for automated santization and disinfectant systems. 2. Allocate budget for any unforeseen global or local pandemic like issues, with strict guidelines to ONLY use those monies for explicit purposes, any unused should be carried over to next year to reduce growing budgets.