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Little Silver Board of Education {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

LITTLE SILVER BOARD OF EDUCATION – Full Term - Vote for ThreeSchool 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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    Diana Davis
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    Marc Gasperino
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    Carolyn Glynn
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    Somil Jain
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    Stephen Kotok
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    Jeanne Lauro
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    Vincent Lenza
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    Maria J. Wood
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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?

Education J.D., Georgetown University Law Center; A.B. Princeton University
Simply put, our kids need to be in school. Period. After the struggle that was the spring semester, many of us were optimistic, believing that with six months of planning time, the district would find a way to educate our children in-person and safely. Unfortunately, this has not happened. Of course, every parent should have the option of sending their children fully remote. But those who feel that fully in-person is best should also have that option. Our community is fortunate to have so many parents who are highly motivated and willing to put forth outside the box solutions to this unprecedented dilemma. Yet, so many creative proposals seem to have fallen on deaf ears. The community deserves a transparent, data-driven approach to moving through the phases. We need to acknowledge the illogical nature of the hybrid approach, where parents are resorting to alternative learning structures to fill the void, in many cases increasing exposure more than five school days would have. Let’s start with having every student who so chooses to be in the building every day, and then work the problem. There is unused space in the buildings, and teachers can be reassigned to allow smaller classes and distancing, while maintaining the standards of education that led so many of us to Little Silver in the first place. So far in this pandemic, we have asked the children to be flexible and accommodating. It’s time to make them the priority and take the burden off their shoulders.
I am an attorney with a background in science and medicine, and thus uniquely qualified to contribute to this time where policy and science intersect. I regularly analyze scientific data in my career, and would take a data-driven approach to reopening and COVID-related issues in the school. I am straightforward, honest, and highly motivated to get our kids back in school. I am the mother to three girls, all of whom are obsessed with Hamilton, and all of whom have learned a lot lately about not accepting unjust situations and speaking one’s mind.
While no doubt COVID related issues are paramount, and all other issues should stay on the sidelines until children can be in school every day, there are other changes that I believe would be beneficial to our community. While technology is useful, and it is important to expose children to the tools they will be using in the future, the district seems to have gotten carried away with this at the expense of traditional teaching that is so very valuable. Our children have access to excessive expensive apps and programs, yet many of them have never taken a field trip on a bus. I look forward to taking a close look at the district’s budget and priorities to help make a more enriching school experience for our children.
Campaign Email mgasperino@icloud.com
Education Bachelors Degree Marist College Major Psychology Minor Communications
Balancing COVID 19 safety protocols while creating a positive learning experience for students, along with managing our budget are at the top of the list. Our Administrators, teachers, medical and janitorial staffs have done a remarkable job reopening our schools during unprecedented challenges. It is also impressive how well our students have adapted and are part of the solution. That said, I feel strongly that we need to get students back to full-time, in-person learning as soon as we can. I also feel that the current social, political and economical issues facing our society create underlying challenges for our district and overall community. We need empathy and sound judgement now more than ever. Our society tends to dig its heels into the ground on every topic, and people operate with tunnel vision when it comes to their individual needs. As a Board of Education member, one must make decisions for the greater good while trying ones best to listen and help each member of the student body. Teachers, administrators and the BOE are going to have to learn to work differently moving forward. Our society expects instant gratification, information flow, and transparency and schools are still behind in many ways. Parents also need to understand that it takes time to make these changes properly, and unfortunately school systems are not designed for agile change and there are many antiquated platforms, policies and regulations to work through. But we'll get there.
Professionally, I’ve been an Executive Search and Human Capital consultant for over 20 years and prior to that I focused on Six Sigma (process improvement strategies) training for GE Capital. I have deep experience managing people, budgets, and implementing process improvements. In my line of work, clear, concise, and open communication is a priority. Success in the Executive Search industry is determined by exceeding expectations and building strong, trusting relationships, which I believe will be beneficial as a member of the Board. Personally, my family and I have been proud Little Silver residents for eleven years. My wife, Suzanne, and I are proud and grateful that our two sons, Jake and Drew, have graduated from both Point Road and Markham Place schools. Our daughter Brooke is currently enjoying her year in 7th grade at Markham Place. Since moving to Little Silver, I’ve volunteered as a coach for 11 years and counting, helped coordinate and improve our towns baseball and softball programs, upgraded our fields, worked on special projects for the Town Counsel, coordinated several charitable events, currently serve on the Little Silver Traffic & Safety Committee, and as of this past July have been a member of the Board of Education. I believe in open and direct communication, sound judgement, and empathy. I try my best to find common ground in every situation.
Little Silver has two of the best schools in the State of New Jersey for good reason. We have talented and devoted teachers, administrators, students, and parents. So we need to continue to strive to be better. It starts with retaining and supporting our teachers and improving our student to teacher ratio as much as possible. Our budget does not make it easy, but my fellow Board of Education colleagues have done a great job adjusting over the past several years, and the fiscal strategy they put in place has improved the situation. We need to be mindful of our future expenses, especially the unforeseen ones that COVID 19 has presented. Continued advocacy for State funding will also be important to our District. Improving our Board’s internal and external communication channels is at the top of my list of improvements. More frequent outreach and dialogue with the community will only help our cause and is even more critical in times of crisis. We are fortunate to currently have strong alignment and collaboration within the Board and benefit from strong partnerships with the PTO, Education Foundation of Little Silver and other parental groups which produce remarkable benefits for our children. If elected, I'd be honored and excited to continue to be a part of the team providing our children with an incredible educational experience.
Campaign Email cfglynn@gmail.com
Education BA, University of Notre Dame, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa
The Covid crisis is the #1 issue facing every school in the US today. However, some challenges requiring our effort will persist well beyond the virus. The NJ school funding formula is broken. Little Silver residents send over $22 million of our tax dollars to the state every year, yet our schools receive less than $600,000 annually. This challenge has driven nearly all of my volunteer work for the Little Silver community. I served as both an Education Foundation trustee and officer for years prior to my election to our district’s Board of Education. My aim in both roles, to help our schools meet the funding gap and ensure a top notch education for all of our students.

I have advocated for equitable state funding and local funding solutions even prior to joining the BOE. I called for the formation of the Peninsula BOE Finance Committee, encouraged our superintendent’s widespread advocacy on behalf of our district, drove local efforts to create awareness within our community to influence our local legislators, and supported BOE policies that helped narrow our budgetary gap. And though significant reforms are still required, our district has gained more funding while other districts face cuts. This is difficult work and it must continue. If re-elected, I would redouble my efforts in this arena and work with our newly appointed superintendent to continue driving the school funding agenda. Little Silver has always done a lot with a little, but our students deserve a fair share.
I am uniquely qualified having served on the Board of Education since 2018. I understand the time and effort this responsibility requires, and I am committed to fulfilling this obligation to the Little Silver community for a second term. Of my three children, two currently attend Little Silver schools, and the third is a Little Silver graduate and RBR junior. I have volunteered for our district in many capacities for nearly a decade, and have continued to serve our schools outside of my role on the BOE throughout my first term. In short, I have in-depth knowledge of our district and am dedicated to its continued success.

In May of this year, my fellow board members and I hired a new superintendent. This is the most impactful contribution a BOE can make to its district, and I am very proud to have served in this capacity. In the months since, I have dedicated many hours to assist in our superintendent’s transition to our district all during what is likely the most challenging period in its history. I have both the experience and the commitment to see Little Silver schools through this next chapter.
Little Silver schools received top marks from the NJ Department of Education in 2020. Out of 2100 schools, ours ranked #4 (Markham Place) and #22 (Point Road) overall. This achievement is attributable to a top notch teaching staff, highly competent administrators, engaged parents, and student body that is not only challenged intellectually but is also nurtured on an emotional level.

I have consistently approved policies and financial decisions that bolster this “all hands on deck” approach. Our teachers require professional development in order to hone their skills in the classroom. Programming for our students must address the whole child and include excellent curriculum, athletics, music, art, and social/emotional wellness. The above require the financial and policy backing of our BOE. The success of our schools also depends on the support and engagement of our parent community. I currently serve as the BOE liaison to the EFLS, which raises critical funds for technology and other educational programs for our students. This summer I served as a parent and BOE representative on our district’s Reopening Committee. A silver lining to the Covid crisis is an uptick in community participation, as our public BOE meetings moved online. This practice should continue even after restrictions on in person gatherings are lifted. If re-elected, I will continue to support all stakeholders in our district to preserve the excellence in education our community expects and deserves.
Campaign Email somilj@gmail.com
Campaign phone 9084159590
Campaign Address 20 Megan Drive Little Silver, NJ 07739
Education MBA, Wharton School of Business; BS, Rutgers University
Currently, the biggest challenge facing the community is the education of our children while navigating the restrictions created by COVID. Spring 2020 was a challenge for students, teachers and parents alike. While the Fall of 2020 has been better for some, many are still struggling with the hybrid approach. Students, in particular those in grades K-2, are not getting enough in-person hours with their teachers and fellow classmates for a fulfilling school year. Parents are struggling to balance work, home and kids’ education. And while many teachers have picked up amazing new skills, they are still finding it difficult to manage in-person and online students at the same time. I think we need to reconsider our options, really challenge the existing paradigms and come up with ways to better support all three important groups - students, parents and teachers.

On a longer-term basis, our district constantly struggles with funding issues. We are too often put in a situation where we need to cut programs (art, music, sports) due to inadequate funding. I think we need to better understand the allocation of our district’s budget and ensure the money is being put towards causes and programs that provide the most enriching environment for our kids. We also need to identify and eliminate any redundancies or unnecessary allocations of the limited funds we have.
Personally I am a parent that cares about our kids and listens to the needs of all parents, who have a very diverse set of needs. I have children in both schools - Markham and Point Road and I understand the different needs of the age groups in both schools. My wife has taught grades ranging from Kindergarten up to 7th; this helps me understand the teachers’ and administrators’ perspectives as well.

Professionally, I have spent the last 20+ years working as an Actuary. I also have an MBA from Wharton. I have experience that ranges from building very technical economic and accounting models to handling very delicate interpersonal relationships. I also have experience on the boards of non-profit organizations. Most recently, I was the Treasurer on the board of an organization that provided services to victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, so I have handled situations where complex legal, regulatory and personal issues interact. I have experience hiring Executive Directors for these boards and have also gone through a process of evaluating a merger. These past experiences make me well suited to handle any challenges that COVID or other equally unexpected situations may bring.
There are too many factors that are important to list them all, but I’ll highlight what I think are the most critical ones. At the very top is Communication. This includes clear, consistent and timely dialogue between various stakeholders, including students, teachers, parents and administrators. We all need to be on the same page at all times. Even if we don’t always agree, we should be able to listen to the needs of all other groups and understand the needs of others. I feel that this is an opportunity for our district. I know too many parents that feel frustrated and have given up on providing feedback because they felt their words were falling on deaf ears. I know of too many cases where bright students have left the district because their needs were not being met. We need to have open dialogue to better hear these voices.

I also believe we need more parent representation. We are fortunate to be living in a community where parents want to be more involved with the education of our children. The same parents that have a lot of value to add to the process. We need to find more ways to allow parents to offer their time, energy and skills to help nurture our community.

Lastly, as parents we want to make sure our tax dollars are being utilized as efficiently as possible. With increased communication and representation, there can also be more accountability.
Campaign Email steve.kotok@gmail.com
Website https://stjohns.academia.edu/StephenKotok
Education Ph.D. in Educational Theory and Policy, Penn State University
We are dealing with both short-term and long-term challenges. Obviously, Covid-19 presents great challenges for our community. While the district has done a commendable job in re-opening our schools on a hybrid schedule, we need to ensure schools stay open and expand in-person learning for the youngest children. We also need to work with and support teachers, especially those with children so that they continue to feel safe to come in and are able to care for their own school-age children.

The second great challenge I see facing the community is to ensure our children are prepared for an increasingly diverse United States of America. I would like to find ways to incorporate curriculum that recognizes racial, linguistic and religious diversity while also looking for tangible ways of recruiting diverse teachers as well as connecting students to children of different backgrounds. Research demonstrates that exposure to diverse peers and teachers as well as an inclusive curriculum are related to improved academic, social, and employment outcomes later in life.
I have a wealth of experience related to public education. I am currently a professor of educational leadership at St. John's University. As part of my job, I research educational issues, teach courses, and work with educators from around the tri-state area. I formerly taught middle and high school social studies for several years. I have also served other roles related to education including as a consultant for the New York City Department of Education where I evaluated a multi-million dollar Gates Foundation grant for personalized learning. This professional background would be a huge asset for the district since I understand current research as well as the challenges and trends for educators.

Personally, my daughter attends LS schools and my son will start there next year. Last year, I was able to serve the community as a Rec basketball coach and I am looking for ways to contribute in a more profound way.
We are fortunate to live in a community that values and funds public education. In my experience, school districts must balance the values of equity, excellence, and efficiency. In terms of excellence, our schools are recognized as performing quite well on academic measures, but I want to keep thinking on how we can both maintain these outcomings while also improving socio-emotional and holistic measures. When it comes to efficiency, I want to explore areas for coordination with nearby districts. I am not proposing a merger with districts, but to examine areas where we can share resources such as professional development or specific special services. Lastly, I am very focused on the issue of equity. Among other priorities, this means we need to pay close attention to special education inclusion, review gifted and talented programs, and think creatively how we can introduce a wider world view to our children. A wealth of research supports each of these equity goals.
Campaign Email jeanne.lauro@gmail.com
Education Bachelor of Science Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
There are currently two major (and inter-related challenges) facing Little Silver schools; Covid-19 and the budget. Everyone wants our students and staff healthy, safe and in school. I believe following CDC guidelines and educating our students and community at large on safe and effective practices to avoid Covid-19 is the best way to get our students back in the school buildings on a traditional schedule. Unfortunately, due to spending on Covid-19 related requirements the school budget is in a more tenuous place than it was in 2019. I would continue to work to pressure our state legislators to revise the state spending formula to find a more equitable distribution of our tax dollars while prioritizing and making smart spending decisions within the district.
My family moved to Little Silver fourteen years ago and our two children have been in the school district since my son started PreK in 2014. They are currently in 3rd grade at Point Road School and 5th grade at Markham Place. Over the last 6 years I’ve volunteered in the schools in several capacities including the LS5k, book fairs, art shows and as a room parent. One of my favorite and most rewarding volunteer opportunities each year is working with third graders in small groups on Friends of Different Learners Day. Three years ago, I made a point to attend as many BOE meetings in person as my work schedule would allow. Because of my volunteerism and participation, I’ve been in the schools and had a front row seat to all of the wonderful work being done in our district. I’ve also seen where we can make improvements.

In my professional life as an airline pilot I’ve cultivated communication, leadership and team-working skills that help me make focused informed and sometimes difficult decisions in an environment full of distractions. Being accountable and reliable to my crew-members and passengers have also contributed to my continued professional success. My job also allows me to talk with people from all over the world about their children and local schools. These conversations confirm to me how special Little Silver schools are. I look forward to the hard work of reaching our highest potential.
Little Silver is a leading well-regarded school district in a state that continually tops national school rankings. Our town is made up of talented and well-educated people with diverse life experiences who are extremely passionate about our community. We love our schools for their dedicated teachers and staff who create a safe and effective learning environment, small class size, and access to technology among other things. I would work to enrich these qualities, while strengthening each student’s emotional well-being, the home/school connection and expanding our excellent academic, arts and athletic programs. I want students to graduate Little Silver schools as informed, resilient and responsible citizens.
Education BA History, Wagner College MA History, St. John's University BS Nursing, New Jersey City University
Adequate funding for our schools will be the largest challenge facing our school district in both the short and long term. There's simply no way around the fact that the funding available through tax levy and state aid sources are not now and will not in the future be enough to support the level of high quality schooling that we have come to expect in our town.

If you have not already, I encourage you to take a moment to review the district's easy to understand budget documents located at https://www.littlesilverschools.org/boe/budget-finance . If you do you will quickly notice that there is no fat in the budget to be cut. All of the easy cuts, and a lot of the hard ones, have already been made. By law the funding shortfall cannot be made up by increasing the school tax levy and the State continues to underfund our district. In short, there are no easy fixes to make up the budget gap that our district faces. This is the most important question that any Board of Education in our state must address.

So what can we do about it? The Board of Education has already engaged in significant and impressive efforts to both advocate for a more equitable State funding solution and to develop new sources of local funding. Both efforts should continue, as a combination of earned income activities (such as the Pay to Play extracurricular fees) and increased grant funding opportunities will be an important component of district funding in the future.
My wife Beth and I have lived in Little Silver for nine years. We have one son who attended Little Silver Schools from K-8 and is now a freshman at RBR, and another son who started in the Point Road Pre-K and is now in 4th grade. If there's a school or town activity involving children- Chorus and Band concerts, Sci-vention Convention, Field Day, Halloween Parade, Book Lover's Ball, Cyberpatriots, Chess Club, Saturday basketball at PRS, corralling seven year old Little Leaguers at Challenger Field, or standing out in the too hot, too cold, or too rainy weather at a Sickles soccer game, among others- we've been part of it.

Professionally, I was the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization for nine years prior to going back to school to become a nurse. I've done the hard work of developing an annual budget, and I've done the harder work of figuring out what to do when the budget you developed doesn't work out like you thought it would. I've also served as a Board member of several organizations, and understand that the most important role that a board member can play is as champion and advocate. I've been an EMT in town since 2012, have been involved with our local Cub Scout pack, and coached baseball and soccer every year between 2012 and 2018.

I've been working at a nurse at Jersey Shore Medical Center since 2016. Since March I've taken care of dozens of COVID patients and have a solid understanding of how to best protect our students and school staff from this virus.
In September of 2011, when my wife and I had lived in town for all of two months, we walked our five year old and newborn baby down to Library Field for something called a Kindergarten clinic. At the appointed time Judge Flynn announced that he needed to speak with the parents in attendance and gathered us into a circle. After some quick introductions he made it clear that the only way that the clinic works is if parents participate directly, and then started assigning us to skill stations. Many of you likely had the same experience, and maybe you had the same revelation on your first day of Kindergarten clinic as I did - that our town is a place where everyone is encouraged to get involved and be a part of making our community great.

Our schools are exemplary examples of what happens when we come together as residents to commit to creating the kind of community that people want to be a part of. We all recognize that our students achieve academic success at impressive levels. It would be easy to assume that our schools are great, our teachers are great, and that there's not much for us to do beyond keep the schools status quo. And if we did, our children would likely achieve the same academic successes that they do now. But we live in a place where we want our kids to embrace social and athletic and emotional achievement as well, and are happy to do the work to make that a reality. I am very much looking forward to reinforcing my commitment to that goal on the Board.
Education B.A. in Early Childhood Education, Master's of Science in Literacy
The most immediate challenge facing our district is the Covid-19 crisis and getting our children back into school full-time and safely. However, the biggest challenge long term is preventing budgetary pressures from eroding the high quality education provided by our schools.

Regarding Covid, the board, administration, teachers and staff have all been working hard to navigate a difficult and ever-changing crisis. I would use my experience gained as a former teacher, a parent of three children in the school system, a former trustee for the EFLS, and co-chair of the PTO’s Friends of Diverse Learners subcommittee to (a) help our children get back to school full-time as soon as safely possible, and (b) give them the best educational experience we can in the interim.

Regarding the budget, I would focus on growing available funding while avoiding cuts that impact our children. I have practical experience doing this for the Little Silver schools that I would leverage. For example, since moving to Little Silver 11 years ago, (a) I worked with the EFLS during a time when funds raised to enhance the technology available to our children were greatly increased, (b) I discovered six available grants that could supplement the Little Silver special education budget, and with the help of the Director of Special Services and her team we were awarded two of the six grants, and (c) I have been involved in lobbying the state for more aid to supplement the special education budget.

On a personal level, I have been an active member of the community since moving to Little Silver 11 years ago. I have enjoyed being an involved parent, volunteering for the EFLS and PTO, regularly attending Board of Education meetings and coaching Recreation sports. I have a passion for advocating for children and would be honored if I could take this passion and use it to be a productive member of the Board of Education. I currently have a third-grader and a seventh-grader in Little Silver schools, and a senior at Red Bank Regional (who started at Point Road School in first grade).

Professionally, I feel that my background will help to provide an important perspective. I hold a B.A in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s of Science in Literacy. I worked as a public elementary school teacher for five years, and before moving to NJ I trained teachers within the New York City Public School System. I volunteered and co-chaired various committees for the EFLS for six years, and acted as a an EFLS trustee for three of those years. Through the EFLS, we partnered with teachers and administration, brainstorming new ideas for fundraising, as well as reviewing grants that were submitted. As a parent, I participated in the school district’s Five-year Strategic Planning Meeting in 2018. And for the last five years, I have been an active member of the PTO’s Friends of Diverse Learners subcommittee, including most recently acting as the group’s co-chair.
Little Silver is well known for its excellent school system -- that is why my family moved here. We have been able to enjoy the benefits of a small town, while getting a high-quality public school education. Over the years, I have witnessed the disparity in the appropriation of federal and state funds from school to school, and it inspired me to get involved. Despite these disparities, Little Silver has been able to retain many of our qualified teachers, keep our standards high, and provide our children with a top-notch and rigorous curriculum that aligns with the current educational standards. If elected to the Board of Education, I would want to help tackle the current Covid-19 crisis, while also looking ahead to how we can continue to improve the educational experience for our kids as students and global citizens. I would work to harness the energy and talents of the community to help lobby the state to better fund our schools. By nature, I'm an advocate and I'd love nothing more than to be a voice for the children and families in Little Silver.