If you want to throw your hat in the ring to run for school board, you'd better hurry. The School District of South Orange and Maplewood nominating process for school board elections ends at 4 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 27.
Currently, the Board of Education election is scheduled for April 17, 2012. “There are three seats open for candidates to fill,” announced Business Administrator and Board Secretary Cheryl Schneider. “A full term on the school board runs for three years.”
Those three seats are currently occupied by Jennifer Payne-Parrish, Wayne Eastman and former Board of Education President Mark Gleason.
Payne-Parrish and Eastman have both filed to run again.
Gleason — a former Board President — said he had enjoyed his time on the board but thought it was time to let others take a turn. Gleason enumerated his accomplishments in an email to local media:
I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve on the Board for six years. While we haven't solved every problem, I believe we have improved the way the board governs, keeping the board focused on setting high goals and on making decisions based on student outcomes. We have steadily decreased the annual rate of tax increase, which for many years had outpaced both the rate of inflation and the rate of spending in other New Jersey districts. We have begun to see some erosion of the achievement gap, along with increased Advanced Placement participation and performance at the high school. And our high-school graduates are being accepted into top-tier colleges all around the world. We are on our way to realizing our vision of being the top-performing diverse, suburban school district in the nation.
In the email, Gleason gave an endorsement to Eastman who is running with newcomers Madhu Pai and Jeffrey Bennett. Said Gleason, "Nobody has been more instrumental on the board in supporting that vision than Mr. Eastman. He brings tremendous knowledge, creative thinking and a relentless focus on outcomes to every board discussion. He helped to recruit Dr. Osborne as our superintendent. And he is always thinking about the long-term future of our community as we weigh decisions."
Gleason said he was also pleased to see Eastman "pairing up with two younger candidates. It is crucial that the board not become calcified through incumbency. We need fresh perspectives to keep the board looking forward."
Patch has reached out to Jennifer Payne-Parrish for comment and hopes to publish more on her candidacy shortly.
The Board of Education voted not to move its elections to November this year at a special meeting on Feb. 8.
Therefore, candidates must file a nominating petition with the local school board in order to get their names on the ballot for the Annual School Election. The current deadline to submit the nominating petition is 4 p.m., Monday, February 27, 2012.
Prospective school board candidates can obtain a “School Board Candidate Kit” online at www.njsba.org. Published by the New Jersey School Boards Association, the School Board Candidate Kit includes a nominating petition, information about legal qualifications for school board candidacy and the role of the school board member. Information about the New Jersey School Ethics Act and important dates in the school election process are also included in the kit.
“One of the most meaningful contributions that a citizen can make to their community is serving on their local board of education,” said Raymond R. Wiss, NJSBA president. “I encourage all interested citizens to consider school board membership. It doesn’t require a degree in education, or a background in politics. However, it does require a sincere interest in the community, its children, and their education.”