Author Topic: 2011 School Board Election  (Read 3612 times)

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2011 School Board Election
« on: April 23, 2011, 03:56:07 PM »
School board candidates discuss the issues
Friday, April 22, 2011
BY MARK J. BONAMO
Hackensack Chronicle
MANAGING EDITOR

Eight of the nine candidates who are running in the April 27 Hackensack Board of Education trustee elections recently spoke at a candidates' forum held at Nellie K. Parker School.



JOE CAMPOREALE/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Hackensack Board of Education candidates discuss the issues facing the district at a forum held April 4.

They came in order to answer public questions about their policy ideas, as well as offer their vision for the future of the city's children.

The candidates present included Angel Carrion, Frances Cogelja, Jeanne Dressler, Carol Martinez, Veronica Bolcik McKenna, Blanche Stuart, Pepukayi West and Steven Wyche. An additional candidate, Paul Fisher, was absent.

Candidates, Bolcik McKenna and Dressler, are the incumbents.

If successful, three candidates will fill three-year terms on the board. One candidate will complete a one-year unexpired term. Dressler and Wyche are competing for the one-year unexpired term.

The candidates are paired into two groups: Bolcik McKenna, Carrion, Dressler and Martinez are running together as one slate; Cogelja, Stuart, West and Wyche are running together on the other slate. Fisher is running independently.

The incoming board will administer an $85.8 million budget for the next school fiscal year, a measure that is up for voter approval in the Wednesday, April 27 election.

EFFECTS OF BUDGET CUTS RAISED

Approximately 100 people attended as the candidates offered opening and closing statements, with the candidates' answering written questions posed by members of the audience in between.

One question posed to the candidates centered on dealing with budgetary and fiscal issues. Schools around the state are contending with education budget cuts generated by Governor Christie's recent policy decisions.

"The board is facing unprecedented budget cuts. We have to cut $5 million from where we are right now to get to the amount of money that we will have to spend," said Dressler. "We will have to try to balance equally between all entities, whether it is teachers, administrators, parents and board members, and communicate what we are doing to the public."

"We should have readily available a line-by-line budget where we can look at and where we can see where our money is being spent," Cogelja said. "Transparency would go a long way."

Another question centered specifically on how to keep the impact of the cuts at a minimum concerning Hackensack's students.

"The approach that would least impact the children is keeping class sizes as small as possible on the elementary level, and even up to eighth grade," said Bolcik McKenna. "This includes not cutting teachers to keep class sizes down."

"How about supplies that we don't use?" asked West. "In some of the elementary schools, they continue to order things that they don't use every day. Those are the kind of things that will have the least effect on the schools."

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH AND CURRENT CHALLENGES EXAMINED

With the announcement that Superintendent Edward Kliszus will retire this summer, referring to the state's proposed pension reforms as the main reason for his decision, the board will be charged with searching for a new leader for the school district. Candidates responded to questions about what will factor into this search.

"It will be very important to bring in someone from within the community, rather than someone from the outside who would have to learn what's going on," said Martinez. "But having said that, we definitely need someone who is very qualified for the best interest of the children."

"We should expand the pool of qualified candidates, and look to reflect the diversity of the community," said Stuart.

When asked about preserving programs and staff in this challenging environment, the candidates had a sober approach.

"We need to evaluate each of the programs," said Carrion. "The people who are in charge of that are the principals and the superintendent. My job as a school board member is to evaluate the ideas they have, try to choose the proper ideas, then support those individuals. That's the job of the board."

"Wasteful spending is a reality in our state," said Wyche. "We need to go back to the drawing board, and be the board members who care and believe that children are first."

After the candidates' forum, Fairmount Principal Joseph Cicchelli spoke about the statewide issues facing whichever candidates are elected on April 27.

"Everything flows downhill, so whatever happens in Trenton, we're going to have to deal with on this level," said Cicchelli. "It's important that you can find a group that will work collaboratively. A lot of people run for board positions, and have never been part and parcel of the educational process. I look for candidates who have been in the schools, and who take the time to learn about the community and learn about the programs. It's easy to throw an answer out off the hip; it's harder to speak with knowledge."

E-mail: bonamo@northjersey.com
« Last Edit: April 23, 2011, 03:59:40 PM by Editor »



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Re: 2011 School Board Election
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2011, 02:22:33 PM »
Hackensack 2011 school election results
Last updated: Thursday April 28, 2011, 11:28 AM
The Record

Tax Levy: $66,302,500
Yes votes="912"
No votes="521"

Three three-year terms
Veronica N. Bolcik McKenna * votes=1,078
Carol Martinez votes=947
Angel Carrion votes=917
Blanche M. Stuart votes=577
PepuKayi D. West votes=519
Frances Cogelja votes=509
Paul Fisher votes=174

One-year unexpired term
Jeanne M. Dressler * votes=834
Steven I. Wyche votes=600

Hackensack voters approved a $66.3 million school tax levy, allowing the district to move forward with plans to cut 9.5 administrative posts. The $89.9 million spending plan eliminates vice principals at the elementary schools and calls for the Middle School and 5ive6ix School to share administrative staff. The budget also cuts nine teaching and coaching positions, as well as six support-staff posts. Voters have consistently approved the tax levy since at least 2003.

* denotes incumbent
« Last Edit: April 28, 2011, 05:28:27 PM by Editor »

 

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