Your position on the teachers’ contract being negotiated?
– What would you do or recommend for the contract?
We have seen the signs all over town; “support our teachers”, I believe we all do. I think it is irresponsible of anyone who makes a blanket statement “settle the contract” without knowing the details of the negotiation. Teachers want and have our support, and it is well within their right to picket and protest. Beyond that, as a non-board member candidate, it is very difficult to comment without knowing the specifics.
What is more important-taxes, keeping good teachers, continuing to develop strong programs for kids? Don’t you need good teaching to maintain a great district?
Taxes, Teachers, and Programs are equally important. As a parent, resident, and taxpayer I demand low taxes, I demand good teachers, and I demand strong programs. I should not have to choose between the three, I demand all three. Competent, enthusiastic, and motivational teachers round it all out and make it work.
Have you researched how our salary guide compares to others or have taken the time to speak with our BA about the budget?
Yes, I have reviewed a copy of the expired contract as well as received copies of the budget and audit report. When I negotiate a contract and the bargaining unit leaves the table unsatisfied, and I leave equally unsatisfied, a fair and equitable contract has been settled. Unfortunately, our teachers are caught in the middle of a circumstance which was created by our former governor. Public sector employees gladly contributed to their benefits however, the salaries did not keep up with the contributions and we have a situation where salaries have remained flat for close to 10 years.
Will you vote for a contract that gives the BA a raise next year, or will you vote to freeze his salary for several years given his exorbitant salary?
A similar question was asked on candidate’s night; I cannot be held accountable for prior year agreements since I am currently not a board member. If elected I will evaluate all contracts equally to ensure the board employs capable and competent individuals and support fair and equitable contracts for all staff including teachers, making our students and taxpayers a priority.
What are you looking for in a superintendent?
Knowing the stakeholders is crucial to a successful tenure of a superintendent. They must understand that every action has an opposite reaction, and if they can mitigate the reactions beforehand, success will always follow. The criteria that I would use in order to select a candidate in the selection process are; must have a minimum of 5 years in the classroom as a teacher, a superintendent must know what goes on in a classroom. The candidate should have 3 to 5 years of being a division director or principal. The candidate’s managerial style should be developed during this period so former actions and decisions can be evaluated. If the candidate has guidance experience, this would be a great advantage since they will have experience working with students with various social and academic issues. Our next Superintendent needs to have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to understand that special education in the State of New Jersey is failing. Senator Steven Sweeny assembled a task force which identified our statewide deficiency and failure in special education. The system needs to be overhauled especially the manner in which we provide facilities and funding. We cannot sustain financing of all education in its present form and the new superintendent cannot be part of the old broken system, they need to be a motivator and innovator.
What kind of initiatives would you consider to help with the wellness of the students’ mental, physical and academic health?
Without a doubt, drug and alcohol programs. Our children are consuming drugs and alcohol at an alarming rate beyond experimentation. They are using on campus and this needs to be immediately addressed. We cannot continue to say “We all did it”, I am tired of this statement as if we are affirming our children’s use of illegal substances, it does not work this way. Adolescent drug and alcohol consumption effect the healthy growth of our children and we must provide our children, and their parents, the resources to deal with this problem head on.
Would you consider later start times for MS/HS, daily mindfulness/meditation times for students, limiting the number of AP classes they can take, more homework free nights, etc.
I have read the research on later start times for the school day which tend to indicate better productivity for students in the classroom, this needs to be seriously evaluated by the new superintendent, scheduling has a lot to be considered with this discussion. Meditation and mindfulness should be addressed as part of a club or student organization. If a student feels capable of advanced placement classes, we should encourage those students to take them, not limit them. In regard to homework, I used the example at candidate’s night with my own daughter who had two quizzes on Friday but Wednesday was a homework free night, how do you expect to do well on a quiz if we make an issue about having a homework free night? Again, not sure this needs to be legislated if teachers use more common sense when assigning work.
How do we ensure the wellness of the whole student?
The district does provide a whole host of wellness programs which need to include substance use and abuse. Our district and our parents can no longer bury our heads in the sand. We need to make a comprehensive effort to educate and provide resources to our students and parents. The district cannot be a surrogate parent and our programs needs to motivate and educate our parents as well as students.
The district found space, within a year, for all day kindergarten, but STILL can’t find space for children with special needs?
- What will you do to bring kids back to district and thereby save millions?
As I previously stated, and Senator Steven Sweeny has confirmed, with his recently released report “Path to Progress”, special education in this state is broken. Funding and facilities effect the fair and equitable treatment of children with special needs and learning disabilities. A few short weeks ago, Dr. Regan, our curriculum coordinator, presented the districts updated curriculum and failed to mention special education. What this means is the 20% of the district’s student population, 500 students, were ignored. What individual districts like Glen Rock have failed to do, hopefully Senator Sweeney’s committee will be able to do, by developing the solutions to these two issues which have been neglected too long, facilities and funding not just for special education but all education.
What specific experience from their resume helps them to fulfill and contribute to our Board of Education?
I have over 25 years of municipal government experience, I have negotiated police, fire, and white collar contracts without a single job action, I have prepared budgets and practiced cost containment practices, and I have implemented cost saving health care plans for both employee and employers.
What would they like to see changed or improved about our schools?
There are two separate Blue Ribbon Awards programs from the United States Department of Education. The award that has not been mentioned in Glen Rock is the Blue Ribbon award honoring those schools who have closed the educational gap between main stream students and students with special needs. Currently in Glen Rock, 20% of our district, 500 students, have an Individual Educational Plan or a 504 Plan. These students have challenges in meeting New Jersey minimum educational standards. I challenge the Glen Rock district, let us close this 20% gap and provide an education for all of our students, this Blue Ribbon is more of an accomplishment than the one presented to the district last week.
What is the greatest barrier to improving our children’s experience in schools?
I believe children need to be part of the program development, we cannot simply rely on an administrator because they have an advanced degree or are called a learning specialist. Let us listen to our children, I know every parent can share a story about a negative experience in school. Let us share these negative experiences so that our district knows, understands, and learn that our children’s voices do matter.
How do they feel about the question on the ballot regarding the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act? $500 Million for technical school upgrades at the high school and community college level along with school security funding seems excessive, and this was reduced by Governor Murphy from the proposed $1billion. Again, we need to look at the “Path to Progress” report from Senator Sweeney that identifies the weaknesses in education especially the way these programs get delivered as well as funding them. The district has taken every step imaginable to improve safety at all of our campuses including unarmed security guards at the middle and high school. I would much prefer to see funding go toward a comprehensive drug and alcohol program for our children and families.
Would you support a reasonable policy – like that of the New Jersey School Board Association who are our policy consultants – to protect transgender children in the district??
My parents taught and educated me on the acceptance of others and a comprehensive policy that provides accommodations for our transgender children not only reinforces Glen Rock’s overall commitment to our children but provides our parents the peace of mind they need knowing that their children can feel safe and comfortable participating in the district.
Also what is your stance on the ADA accessibility to and the schools?
My stance is simple, it’s the law. The law provides for accommodations for those with both mental and physical disabilities, I like to refer to them as challenges and not disabilities. As a public sector manager since 1992, I have been working on ADA projects from building accessibility to communications. Retro-fitting older buildings is a challenge but possible.