Term: Election to a vacant Lawrence School District 15 Board of Education seat
Profession: Home Inspector; Small Business Owner
Family: Married, wife Vickie; five children ages 2 to 18
Why are you running for school board? I have the best interests of all schoolchildren and our community at heart. Every child deserves the best possible education and services, and I will work hard to ensure they get it. Every parent, student, and taxpayer deserves to have school board members who are willing to listen, to use tax dollars wisely, and to act in their best interests. I will be that school board member.
What is your opinion of the school budget that has been presented? I am very concerned about maintaining property tax stability. We all know costs for labor and benefits rise. Unfunded mandates also cause budget increases. But I cannot support this year’s tax increase because I do not believe our current school board has done everything possible to avoid it. I believe the current board is becoming complacent, and my independent perspective will prevent us from losing control on budgets, taxes, and services for all.
How would you improve school board—community communication? I recommend that our school board hold regular work sessions that are open to the public, a few days or a week before the board’s regular business meetings. This would enable parents, students, and taxpayers to see and hear what board members are thinking and doing about various school district issues. As we have seen, closed-door meetings lead to decisions that are not in the best interest of the community.
The board should host periodic or monthly Town Hall-style meetings to give our community a genuine opportunity to speak openly and candidly with school board members. This would give the school board guidance about how to better represent the people who elected them.
How would you enhance unity in our community? Some people might say our school board has already done a bang-up job of uniting our community. After all, more than 4,000 community members were united against them in the March referendum. Of course, that’s not the kind of unity our community needs or wants.
Open communication between our community and the school board is the key to positively uniting our community for good. School board deliberations must be more open and transparent. Board members should be more willing to listen and consider what parents, students, and taxpayers say and suggest. Members of our community may offer good ideas, solutions, or guidance to help our district move forward. I believe that inclusion is always better than and preferable to exclusion.
How would you handle the eventual Number Six School sale? First, I want to ensure that whatever goes on the Number Six School’s 6.7 acres is beneficial to our families and children. It should be compatible with the residential neighborhood, and our board should preserve its popular ball fields and open space for community use.
Voters gave this board a clear mandate in March–our community’s quality of life is not for sale, and they don’t want elected school board members to make one-sided deals that benefit an outside developer. I will follow that mandate and urge fellow board members to do the same.
Term: Reelection to Lawrence School District 15 Board of Education
Profession: Ritual Director/Rabbi, Woodmere Medical Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Professor, Lander College for Women in Manhattan
Family: Married, wife Devorah; a 19-year-old daughter and twin 14-year-old sons
Why are you running for school board? I am seeking a third school board term because there are more good things I hope to accomplish for our children and for our community. I want to continue to help our district find innovative ways to improve education for all students, especially in reading, writing, math, and science.
As the parent of a special-needs child, I know firsthand the challenges faced by these children and their families. That is why I champion the needs of other special-needs children, from public and private schools, throughout our community–child by child, family by family.
I helped revise our district’s special-education policies enabling special-needs students in private schools to receive all of the therapeutic services to which they are entitled. I helped to properly equip occupational- and physical-therapy rooms in each of our public and private schools so therapists can better serve our children. I also helped ensure that each public school is now handicapped-accessible.
I wish to continue to be an advocate for all our children, especially our special-needs children, and ensure the strides we made remain in place and are enhanced.
What is your opinion of the school budget that has been presented? I want to help our district revise the way it handles its finances by eliminating the use of quick fixes. I will continue to insist our school board and administration make tough choices to end wasteful spending and duplicate services–to address the larger, structural issues. We must find other revenue sources instead of raising property taxes. I believe in zero-based budgeting. Every dollar spent must be absolutely necessary. I will examine our school district budget item-by-item and line-by-line to find unnecessary expenses and any needless duplication of services.
How would you improve school board—community communication? The way our school board currently conducts its meetings and makes decisions is unfair to our parents, to our taxpayers, and to our community. The public is entitled to a full explanation of our agenda items and our decisions. The public should also have more opportunities to be heard, to voice their opinions, and to offer suggestions. A school board that conducts its business in private will inevitably make decisions that are bad for our children and our community, as we saw with the Number Six School.
I suggest our school board host periodic meetings to give the public a chance to ask questions, comment, suggest ideas, and get answers from the board members. I personally held two such meetings on special-education issues and found them to be productive, enlightening, and enjoyable.
How would you enhance unity in our community? Our school district serves a diverse community of people and families from various religious, social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds. I consistently urge our board to do more to be a unifying force in this community.
Improved communication between our school board and our community, and greater openness and transparency, are the most essential keys to enhancing unity. More interaction among schools, students, and parents can create unity and camaraderie that benefits everyone.
Area residents and organizations may use and rent school facilities, including building space and playing fields. I want to continue to promote affordable community access to our district’s facilities. I have worked with a variety of organizations such as Project Harmony, Cahal, and TOVA concerts, NCSY Basketball, Little League, and other groups to provide access to school facilities at a fair price, not an excessive one.
How would you handle the eventual Number Six School sale? I have consistently recommended the Number Six School be sold to a buyer who would use the building and property to benefit our community. The dollar value should not be the school board’s only consideration. It is a one-time sale, but the consequences to our community are forever. I want to continue to monitor the sale process to ensure it is done openly and with the public’s good in mind. v