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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Monroe Twp. Board of Education {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

  • JIll De Maio

  • Michael Elgawly

  • Kathy Kolupanowich Retired Executive Secretary

  • Steven Riback Retired School Administrator

Change Candidates

Biographical Information

1. What 3 challenges do you see facing the Monroe School District and how do you propose to make sure they are addressed?

2. Tell us about your experience with this school district as a parent or resident of Monroe Township

3. What are the resources our students most need to succeed and how will you ensure those resources are provided at the times they are needed?

4. How do you propose to balance the following factors: past commitments to teachers, retention of excellent teachers, quality of education provided to the students, and the desire of most taxpayers for lower taxes.

5. What personal and professional skills do you possess that will make you an effective member of the school board?

Current Elected Position Monroe Board of Education
Education MBA Rider University BA University of Delaware
Campaign Email
1. Monroe is seeing over 250 new students each year and we have over 1000 unhoused students. We need a new elementary school, middle school and an addition to the high school. We began addressing this last year with an Ad Hoc committee that looked at how to handle the growth. Currently, we are in the process of planning for several referendums for the schools. We are starting with the middle school where our need is greatest. The town is in the process of negotiating the purchase of a parcel of land on Applegarth road. Once they purchase it they are transferring it to the Board of Education and this is where we plan to build the middle school.

2. Since 2010 Monroe has not received it’s appropriate state aid based on the School Funding Reform Act of 2008. In 2010 we received only about $200,000 and over the past 7 years we have been underfunded by more than $10 million. This has created a huge challenge. We see about 250 new students each year and do not get proper funding from the state to educate them.

Since 2010 I have been going to the New Jersey Statehouse and speaking at committee meetings and with legislators about Monroe’s underfunding. I have also spoken on many occasions to the New Jersey State Board of Education. The progress at the state level has been minimal, but I will not stop.

3. Maintaining a quality education while dealing with the huge influx of students and lack of adequate funding. Monroe is committed to an excellent education for all students. We have been able to deliver quality education despite lack of adequate funding and the growth we are experiencing by keeping costs in check and looking for ways to bring in revenue. We have been able to renegotiate healthcare costs that have saved the district a lot of money and have instituted a in house before and after school care, which is generating a profit. Looking for cost savings and possible revenue sources is something we continually do and will not stop.
I am a parent of two boys who have attended school in Monroe since kindergarten. Between the two of them they have attended Barclay Brook, Oak Tree, Applegarth, the Middle School and both are currently attending the High School. I have been part of the PTA at many of these schools. I moved from PTA volunteer into elected volunteer for the Monroe Board of Education.
As the district continues to grow we need to address the problem of classroom space for the new students. In addition to the growing student population we have over 1000 unhoused students. Last year we added 10 new classrooms at the middle school, by repurposing rooms used for other things. Next year we are going to need trailers as we must move forward with the referendum. We must also continue pushing our legislators and governor for additional state aid.
As a board member I take my job seriously to make decisions in terms of the educational welfare of the children. As a growing district we need more resources to accommodate the new students and foremost this includes hiring high quality teachers who stay in the district. These needs come first, but as a taxpayer myself, I am concerned about how the financial decisions affect the taxpayers. This year we received $ 458,098 in additional state aid, which the board decided to return to the taxpayers. I believe we must work hard to continually balance the two.
As I stated earlier I became involved in educational issues in 2010 when Monroe’s state aid was cut to $200,000. This motivated me to start attending State Board of Education meetings, Assembly Education Committee meetings, Senate Education Committee meetings and Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee meetings. I have testified before many of these committees about Monroe’s lack of adequate funding as well as testifying about education legislation.

Last year I was invited to speak with the State Board of Education about their strategic plan and this year, I spoke to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee about Monroe’s funding issues. I continue to go to these meetings because I believe in order to effectively make decisions at the local level you need to understand what is happening at the state level. This insight helps me as I work closely with the other board members to accomplish board goals and move our district in a positive direction.
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Current Elected Position Monroe Township Board of Education
Education Advanced Degree from Katherine Gibbs Business School / Master Board Member Certification
1. Dealing with the growth of our student population with 1000 unhoused students and 3000 total expected in the next 5-10 years is a major concern. It is projected that our student population will grow 250-300/students per year. That necessitates the need for a new middle school, a new elementary school, and an addition to our high school to meet the educational needs of our students. This brings me to #2 below.

2. On September 13 the BOE passed a resolution approving a March 13, 2018, referendum for a new middle school to relieve the overcrowding in the MTMS. Twelve Temporary Classroom Units (trailers) will be needed at the middle school in the 2018-2019 school year. Our challenge is to make sure our Monroe residents are educated as to the importance of this referendum and gain their support.

3. Our school district does not get adequate funding from the State. The Board created an Ad Hoc Committee on Fair Funding in January, 2017 that has been working diligently to address this issue. Although we received an additional $458,098 this year (which the Board of Education unanimously voted to return to the taxpayers), it is a drop in the bucket to what we need and our taxpayers deserve. We need to continue to advocate for additional State aid.
I have three grown children who attended Monroe schools K thru 12 grade. From day one I felt it was my responsibility to be an involved parent. I have been an active member of the school district for 30 years as a PTA member (elementary, middle, and high school), parent volunteer in our schools, and an 18-year member of the Board of Education. Every child deserves an exemplary education to meet their individual needs, and I hope to continue to do that.

I've had the unique opportunity to see the school district from many different sides and am very proud of what we offer our children. We have an exceptional staff and administration in our district, and it has been my honor to serve our residents and especially our children.
I believe there are two resources that are needed in our district: additional State funding to give our taxpayers much-needed tax relief and a permanent place to house our growing student population.

I have testified before the Senate Committee for School Funding and the Assembly Budget hearings; ran a petition drive where we received over 8000 signatures, and recently I spoke on behalf of our taxpayers about State funding at a rally in Trenton. We need to keep fighting for our fair share of funding, and I intend to do so until a new and fair funding formula is created to ease the tax burden in Monroe.

Our growing student population needs to be addressed through a referendum.
Our yearly operating budget is capped. We have been doing an excellent job of keeping all of our educational programs intact, doing much-needed capital improvements to our facilities, lowering the tax RATE the past three years, adding quality staff members to our district, all while dealing with the 250-300 new students we receive each year. Just meeting the needs of the new students in the district raises the operating budget close to cap each year.

We are aware that every decision the Board makes has a impact on our taxpayers. We give thoughtful consideration to our wants and needs and how and where to balance the demand for quality education and the needs of the taxpayers. The budget increases have been decreased as follows: 2015/2016 - $138, 2016/2017 - $108, 2017/2018 - $27. Again, with additional State aid, we will be able to give even more back to our taxpayers.
As a Monroe resident for 31 years, I have been an active member of our community. I have been President of the elementary, middle, and high school PTAs, Treasurer of the Monroe Education Foundation, a member of Friends of the Library and the Oak Tree/Applegarth PTA, and sit on the Monroe Recreation Advisory Board.

In my 18 years on the Board of Education, I have been Vice President for 4 years and President for 7 years and sat on every Board committee and numerous district committees including Strategic Planning, Student Growth Advisory Committee, Steering Committee, Negotiations, Ad Hoc Committee on Growth and Facilities. As President I initiated the Budget Philosophy and the Board & District Goals meetings giving the Board more authority in decision making.

I believe in continued professional development for Board members and have earned enough credits to become Master Board Member certified.
Current Elected Position Board of Education member- Monroe Twp. NJ
Education Masters + 60 Certificate of Advanced Study Educational Administration and Supervision
1. We just approved a special public vote on a bond referendum for a new middle school this March. Getting voter approval here will be a challenge as our taxpayers are already heavily taxed. 2.The growth in population in Monroe is yet another challenge and reason for the above referendum. However, we project a need for another elementary school and addition to the relatively new high school. 3. As a third and related challenge, I see meeting the educational needs for such a growing district as a major factor. Our district receives $0 in equalization aid and we have been lobbying for increased aid for a while. Without a substantial increase in state aid, meeting the educational challenges of an ever increasing student population would be very difficult.
I moved to Monroe nine years ago and immediately took an interest in the school system as education has been such an important factor in my life (my wife is a retired early childhood teacher). I attended board meetings for a year and noted areas that I felt could be improved. I got to know the board members, involved community members and central administrators and felt I would be able to work with them.
Right now, because of the growth in enrollment, we have over 1000 unhoused students. Our staff has been doing a fabulous job but the enrollment just keeps getting larger and space is the big challenge. Class size must be manageable to achieve the educational results we all want. Overcrowding makes that a major challenge. In an effort to help taxpayers and build needed schools, our board formed an Ad Hoc Committee for Fair Funding whose charge is to lobby for increased state aid. We also are developing a plan to bring the importance of approving the bond referendum to the public.
Meeting the challenges of a growing student population and providing teachers with the resources and programs they need to meet the educational needs of their students is a goal our board has assumed. We also have formed an Ad Hoc Committee for Fair Funding to voice our concerns to state legislators. A substantial increase in aid will benefit the taxpayers and allow our schools to meet the challenges before them.
I retired with 37 years in education: 21 years as a classroom teacher and 16 as a school administrator. This has given me the experience and expertise to help provide the ideas and support needed to work with fellow board members and central administrators keeping Monroe ahead of the pack. logo


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