Why do you want to be on the Board of Education?
I’ve lived in Maplewood and South Orange for 22 years and have 4 children, 3 of whom graduated from Columbia High School in the last 4 years, and my youngest is a junior there now. I’ve served on the Board of Education since 2007 because of a commitment to make sure every student receives an excellent education and opportunities to reach their potential.
What school-related issues are important to you as a resident?
Sound curriculum, qualified teachers and administrators, high expectations for all students, well-maintained facilities, and strict cost management are paramount for our school system to thrive in a sustainable manner. As a Board member I’ve successfully pushed for improvements in all of these areas.
What makes you qualified for this position?
Having been involved with the schools in numerous parent-leadership positions since 1996, I have a deep understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in our school system. I’ve been on the Board now for 6 ½ years and its President for the last 2 ½ years.
My track record is one of measurable success. Student test scores are rising. The percentage of students taking Advanced Honors and AP courses at the high school has increased. And our students receive state and national recognition in academics, the arts, student publications, athletics, and robotics. All of this has been accomplished while keeping tax increases significantly lower than they were six years ago, despite growing enrollment and a massive reduction in state aid.
Externally our progress has also been noted. Over the last several years, NJ Monthly has increased Columbia High School’s ranking in the best public high schools in NJ from 89th to 47th, putting CHS in the top 15%. And earlier this year, US News and World Report ranked Columbia High School 36th in NJ out of 395 public high schools.
What issues do you plan to tackle if re-elected?
I know there is still much work to be done. I want to make sure that every student is truly engaged in the classroom and inspired to do their personal best. Teachers must receive the professional learning opportunities they need to reach and challenge a wide range of learners. And it is critical that parents are engaged and informed.
Most importantly, I want to make sure that resources are allocated wisely in order to keep our educational system strong while being responsive to the taxpayer burden. Strong schools are vital to our community and our future. Our enrollment numbers are growing – a sure sign that our schools and communities are thriving. I will continue to work with the administration to look for efficiencies in classroom scheduling, administrative costs, health care options, shared services, energy usage, and transportation services. I will also explore partnerships and support grant opportunities to bring additional revenue into the District, such as the $1.5 million physical education grant that our District recently received.
Why should residents vote for you?
We’re moving in the right direction – student achievement and participation in higher-level courses are both up, costs are increasingly under control. That’s why I’m asking voters to re-elect me and fellow incumbent David Giles and to support Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad – we’re the team best equipped to continue the progress.