Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Candidates for the Board of Education Part 1


Bogota Blog NJ submitted a series of questions to the Candidates for Trustees to the Bogota Board of Education. There are three seats up for election this year. There are six Candidates running for those seats, the top three candidate that receive the most vote will be appointed to the Board of Education for the year 2016 to a three year term.
    The Candidates at  current Board Member Kathy Van Buren, Eileen Lewis,  Michael Cabana, Asia Burnett  Michael Leong, and JoEllen Granquist.
     The answers to the first question will be presented in the order they have been received by Bogota Blog NJ. Then a different Candidate will have their answer displayed first.  Today will feature the first three question out of five total.
  The election will be held on Tuesday 3-November. Polls in New Jersey will open at 6:00a and be open until 8:00p

How  much can a Board member suggest, or influence  ideas and policies of the Superintendent.

 Ms Granquist: Members work together as a board.  Individual members should not attempt to influence or suggest.  Suggestions should be presented as a whole board.

Mr. Cabana:  As a member of the Board our job is to create policies and it is the job of the Superintendent to follow these policies.  The Superintendent in mandated to follow these policies set forth by the board.  The Superintendent can suggest policies that they would like to follow but it is our job as the board of education to either vote yes or no upon their suggestions.

Ms. Lewis: Developing policies is one of the functions of the school board, so board members have a responsibility to represent the expectations and values of the community. While board members should not micromanage the Superintendent, I believe board members have a considerable effect on the general direction of educational policy. No one person has all the answers, so sharing ideas and suggestions is a critical part of setting policy expectations, as well as the roadmap of how to achieve them.

Mr. Leong: As board members, we need to work hand in hand with the Superintendent voicing the opinions of the community, the teachers, and the students to help develop better systems and policies guiding the children of Bogota to better our community and future.

Ms. Burnett:   Board members are elected to be a link between the public and public schools.  Therefore it is expected that board members are in touch with the needs of the public and relay those needs to the administration to ensure that the education policies in place are what’s best for our students.

Ms. Van Buren: A single Board member cannot act on their own, but rather with their fellow Board members. In line with that, the Board is responsible for establishing policy and ensuring that those policies are carried out under the Superintendent’s directives. Board member’s suggestions should always we welcome for Board discussion, consideration and subsequently acted upon by the administration.

How can the Board of Education prepare for the possible additional students that may enter the Public schools once the Layette Dewey, and the Peninsula Apartments open.

Mr. Cabana: Preparing for an influx of students is not the job of a board member.  It is the responsibility of the superintendent to have day to day functioning of the schools under control.  Situations like this should be incorporated in the schools 5 year plan any hiring or expanding of grade levels should be anticipated and I believe would be supported by the board if in the best interest of the students.

Ms. Lewis: I think population growth is something the Board needs to be cognizant of on an ongoing basis. To start, I would consult with our administration and staff to outline the current population to see if there is any room for growth for the schools, as a whole as well as the individual class sizes. With regards to these particular developments, I would review the district map boundaries to see if any changes should be made in order to better balance the number of students between schools.

Mr. Leong: It is important to prepare for population increases as more children are becoming the norm. We need to work with the community and the superintendent to proactively assess classroom sizes, stay on top of rezoning when necessary, and to possibly develop others options such as building a new school if the size increases call for it or regionalization. If we build a new school, we could use the existing buildings (Steen and Bixby) for grades K-4, make the High school a middle school for grades 5-8, and prepare a new building for grades 9 through 12. We need to keep the technology of these older buildings current as well since it will only benefit the children to compete with other communities outside of Bogota. Again we need to be proactive in these assessments otherwise the town and the educators are always behind
Ms. Burnett: To prepare for new developments in town board members need to research the type of housing that is being built to prepare for the possibility of new families moving in town.  In addition, new developments will require the board to review the current students on register at schools in town.  Board members may discover that with the addition of a new development that schools may need to be re-zoned to avoid overcrowding.

Ms. Van Buren: Any change in student enrollment must be addressed by the Superintendent for Board consideration, be it classroom reconfiguration, building reorganization or structural revisions.

Ms Granquist: Possible redistricting of grade levels attending E. Roy Bixby, Steen and High School

What can the School District to to attract, and maintain  Students, and their Parents choose to attend the Bogota Public Schools.

Ms. Lewis: Improve our academic programs and make sure they address the needs of all of our students, from our honor students to those with special needs. Instill a sense of pride in our students and maintain high standards. If our schools are not competitive and are not offering the best opportunities for our children, then parents will continue to choose to send their kids outside the district. I believe the strategic planning meetings are crucial because they allow the community to have a voice and set goals for the schools.  If you don’t know where you are going, it is impossible to get there. I also think it is critical to communicate new programs and successes that do go on in our schools, and not just to students and parents, but also to the community as a whole.

Mr. Leong: Everything in the town of Bogota over the last eight years or so, seems to be half put together. People of the town want more but no one is willing to stand up and take action for more. We need to continue to get parents invested in their children’s future by encouraging the PTOs of the town to hold events that are family oriented, such as Fall Festival, Spring and Fall Clean Up Days, Holiday Bazaars. We need to bring energy and new life back to the town, the schools, and hold parents accountable for being part of the plan. We need to increase basic skills (shop, nutrition, budgeting, Home Ec etc), as well as technology, which will help our children become self sufficient members of any community no matter what their future holds. As a parent of a child with an IEP
(Individualized Education Program),  I will work hard ensuring the proper steps are taken to provide and enhance their rights and services owed to them within the Bogota School System rather than sending them outside of our schools.

Ms. Burnett: Parents are attracted to districts that provide their children with what they believe are the best opportunities.  Small class sizes, innovative curriculum, up to date technology, providing students at each grade level with opportunities to excel: e.g., G&T ( Gifted and Talented) for early grades and a variety of AP courses at the HS level), and a strong STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematic) program.

Ms. Van Buren: In order to attract and maintain students, the district can explore curriculum and facility upgrades, but an emphasis should be made to improve test scores which is the direct responsibility of the Superintendent.

Ms Granquist: Stay on track with the constant technology updates.  Also, offer students the most challenging curriculum available including, but not limited to, as many AP classes at our high school as possible.

Mr. Cabana:  The schools district needs to become technologically advanced, science labs need to be updated, and programs can be created to help attract and support students. With the 1.2 million dollars in surplus that the district had in last years budget,  meeting some of these needs should be easily reached.

Polls are located at the at :
-- For Districts 1& 6 it is the Bogota Recreation Center at 162 W. Main St.
   Districts 1&6 is that part of the Borough located West of the Railroad tracks.

-- For Districts 2&3 it is the Gym of  Bogota High School at 1 Henry Luthin Pl.  please use the door towards the back of the building on the North side of the Building.
  Districts 2& 3  is that part of the Borough located East of the Railroad tracks & North of Beechwood Ave

--  For Districts 4&5 it is  in the Gym of the Roy Bixby School at Maplewood & Fischer Aves.
     Districts 4 &5  is that part of the Borough located East of the Railroad tracks & South of Beechwood Ave.

Ward Dist. Address
1 Bogota Recreation Center - 162 West Main Street
2 Bogota High School Gym - One Henry Luthin Pl. (Left Rear of Bldg)
3 Bogota High School Gym - One Henry Luthin Pl. (Left Rear of Bldg)
4 E. Roy Bixby School Gym. Maplewood & Fischer Aves
5 E. Roy Bixby School Gym. Maplewood & Fischer Aves.
6 Bogota Recreation Center-162 West Main St.

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