School board candidate platforms

18 April 2010 2,847 views No Comment

The statements below were published in the Suburbanite.

STEPHEN BROWN

I am running for the board to continue the fight to maintain high standards while responsibly managing resources amidst the worst economic recession in generations. The district must re-engineer its operations in order to keep academic standards high without unduly burdening taxpayers.

I believe I have the experience and track record to accomplish these goals.

Like most managers in corporate America, the economy has required me to do my job to the highest quality standards with fewer resources than before. This district must now do the same — reconfigure its operations by cutting extremely high administration costs and working more efficiently. This will save teaching positions, preserve courtesy busing and early-childhood programs. We also must think out-of-the box to find free resources to help our children. For example, three years ago I personally brought to the district the NJ SEEDS College Preparatory Program which prepares academically motivated students with limited financial means for admission to selective colleges. I also orchestrated the district’s “Give a Kid a Smile” program to provide hundreds of students with much needed dental care from local doctors. Both these programs are funded through charitable donations.

I have been against lowering graduation requirements as a way of “helping” failing students. Lowering the academic bar without fixing what’s broken academically and raising taxes without fixing the district’s cost structure is simply not responsible.

I respectfully ask that you vote for me (ballot position #5) so that we can maintain high standards academically and fiscally. Thank you for your consideration.

ANTHONY CURETON

I want to be a member of the Englewood Board of Education because our children are our future. Our schools must provide the environment and opportunity for our students to achieve and excel and highlight the “Quality of Life” concerns of our community for all our residents. Children today must have the literacy, communication and technological skills to be productive and successful.

As a parent and a member of the Board of Education I will encourage and vigorously promote policies and programs that strive for and support high academic achievement in a balance with positive social, cultural and personal individual development. Realizing that tax increases are a concern, it will be my position as a board member not to increase taxes, but to examine how cuts can occur without compromising children’s education. The consolidation of services with the City of Englewood could result in cost savings for the district, which can be allocated to programs and staffing that, perhaps, are subject to budget cuts. I feel the Englewood Public School System is striving to become better and I support flagship programs such as dual language immersion, the Avid & Ivy Program and Academies@Englewood.

These innovative and challenging new ideas established a positive, new basis and foundation on which to build. We must now focus on challenging all students to perform at levels comparable to those in our flagship programs. Our ultimate goal should be to have Englewood achieve the distinction of being a statewide and national “Blue Ribbon School System.”

ENRIQUE DIAZ

As parents, my wife and I have learned to set high expectations for our children – whether in their schoolwork, chores or how they behave as young citizens. In these difficult times, we, like many of our neighbors, have had to sacrifice to live within our means. But we know, no matter how difficult the times, we cannot lower our expectations for children.

Our children attend the Englewood Public Schools. I have volunteered there and as a Little League coach and in the Jr. Football program. I have seen firsthand how children need coaching, mentoring and high expectations.

The current recession has had a devastating effect on Englewood’s schools. Taxpayers are suffering. State funding is disappearing and the district can no longer operate under the pretense of “business as usual.” Compounding the problem is that some board members seem more concerned with lowering standards than addressing the schools’ economic crisis.

I am running because I believe my education and professional experience in finance give me the skills needed to tackle the financial challenges ahead. My experiences as a parent have taught me that we must keep expectations high for all children.

Moving forward, the district must examine each program from the ground up and understand how every dollar is spent.

Tough decisions will have to be made. We must invest in success, keep our standards high and learn to live within our means.

I hope you will join me in this fight.

GLENN GARRISON

When I moved to Englewood in 1989, people said, “It’s a great town, but stay away from the schools.” My wife and I both attended public schools and believe strong schools are the foundation of a strong community. When the time came to enroll our own children in school, we chose to roll up our sleeves and work to build a school system in Englewood that meets the needs of all our children.

As an active public school parent and board member, I am proud of our accomplishments. Asked to oversee our multi-year construction program, I worked hard to deliver the new Grieco School and upgrade our other schools. I partnered with the superintendent to develop curriculum to prepare our children for the Academies@Englewood. I fought for interscholastic sports at the middle school so our young teens have “somewhere to be” during critical after-school hours.

We have more work ahead. Facing our greatest financial crisis in years, we must do more with less and develop creative solutions for our funding needs. For example, when I learned the district wasn’t applying for reimbursement of students’ physicals and other therapy expenses, I insisted we do so. We have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result.

It’s time to muster our strengths, ingenuity and experience to keep our schools moving forward despite the challenges we face. I ask you to support me in this mission. On April 20, please vote for Glenn Garrison (ballot position 4).

JOAN MELTZER

I’m running for reelection to the school board. I have been committed to education from my children’s K-12 years, through my 10 years as director of the In-School Volunteer Program into the present. My goal upon reelection is to bring to fruition our work in progress.

My priorities are to:

1) educate our children

2) keep teachers in the classroom

3) control the tax burden

Education is not a one-size-fits-all process. I am ombudswoman for all children: those in the Academies and Academies-prep, striving standard achievers and those needing extra help.

Young children are “wired” to learn: curious, active, open. Early childhood education is essential for brain development and later academic success. We must pick up children when they totter, before the vicious cycle of failure and remediation begin. Currently our budget has been hit by the perfect storm: $5.7 million of customary state aid has been eliminated by governor’s decree. The bulk of our expenditures are salaries, health benefits, utilities, maintenance and repairs. Little discretionary monies are left for athletics, libraries and summer and after-school programs which benefit our children. Everyone has been hit and affected by the deep ongoing recession. Therefore, the superintendent with the board’s consent, has eliminated since the 2008-2009 budget, including the 2010-2011 budget, 31 teachers, five teacher assistants, six secretaries, two technicians and 10 administrators while trying to retain essential education programs for our children. Our ongoing challenge is to balance fiscal restraint with our mission to keep improving student achievement.

ESTHER SANTIAGO-BABB

I am a married mother of two and proud Englewood homeowner. My son attends Grieco Elementary School.

I graduated from DMHS and attended FDU. Before becoming a full-time mom, I worked in management. Presently and for the last four years, I have worked vigorously for parent empowerment through the local PTOs and community outreach forums; mentor training for our youth and school volunteer programs through the Englewood Education Alliance and cross-racial and cultural understanding and appreciation with the newly formed Voices group.

I am running for the Englewood Board of Education because I want our children to graduate with the same children with whom they started pre-K. A Board of Education sets policy and when I am elected I hope to work with the sitting membership to create policies that will support our administration and our faculty in the use of research based instructional strategies that will meet the learning needs of ALL children. Our children must be in schools that afford them the opportunity to reach their full intellectual, academic and social potential.

As districts across the state continue to reel from the governor’s current cuts the Board of Education must use a new and proactive approach because what is happening currently is not working for too many children.

Vote for change! Vote for me April 20 and I promise to work really hard and diligently with the sitting board members to plan and set appropriate goals that will benefit ALL the children and to achieve the distinction of Blue Ribbon status.

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