Saturday, November 5, 2016

Question for Candidiates

  Bogota Blog NJ sent out a list of  eight questions to the six candidates running for  the three seat available for the Bogota Board of Education.
Those candidates are Incumbent Trustees are Amanda Montgomery, Lisa Kohles, and Charles Severino. The other candidates are Ronald Patron, Kimberly Virbukas, and Michael Leong. Questions were sent out to all candidates at the same time , after the Schedule debate was forced to be canceled due to a power outage at Bogota High School. Questions and answers to the first question will be listed by order of the responses received. Then the  first answer  to the following questions will rotate so each candidate who responded will be the first answer listed for at least on question.
   There will be four question and answered in this post. A second post with the remaining question will be post on Sunday Night 6-Nov.
Bogota Blog NJ will not endorse any one candidate or party. The answers are in the candidates own words with no editing
The 2016 Election will be held on Tuesday 8-November 2016. Polls will be open from 6;00a to 8:00p
The Role of School Boards
Boards of Education were created by the State Legislature and charged with providing schools for the children of their districts.  The members of the Board of Education live in Bogota and  are elected by you.  It is strictly a volunteer position and they receive no salary or other remuneration for their work.
The Board of Education sets the policies by which the school district operates and they hire a Superintendent to carry out these policies and run the day-to-day operation of the district.
Each Board member serves a three-year term of office with three of the members' terms expiring each year.  There is no limit to the number of terms to which a Board member may be elected.
Remember that your Board of Education members are local residents who are serving the community and devoting many unpaid hours of their time to your school system.  Board members do not have any authority as individuals and can act on school matters only at a regular scheduled and advertised meeting of the Board of Education.
The local school board is a critical public link to public schools. Whether elected or appointed, school board members serve their communities in several important ways.
First and foremost school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school board’s agenda—it is the only item.
When making decisions about school programs, school boards incorporate their community’s view of what students should know and be able to do.
School boards are accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.
School boards are the education watchdog for their communities, ensuring that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent. 
                   Questions of candidates for Bogota  Board of Education 2016

-  With a 0% tax raise in the current School budget. What can be done to keep the current situation, while continuing to  improving the quality of the Student’s Education.

Charlie Severino:  
This years zero percent increase in the school budget will not impact the needs of our students.  An increase was not needed due to some past board’s rubber-stamping our superintendents’ request for unnecessary increases.  Our current budget will maintain all programs.
Ronald Patron: 
We must re-examine budgets to make sure we are allocating funds correctly. By properly selecting vendors this will ensure they are doing the job which is considering our students. Encourage volunteerism and fundraising through events while holding our educators, parents and officials accountable.
Amanda Montgomery:
 Budgeting! We have budgeted well over the past few years. This has allowed for the 0% tax raise. In addition to budgeting well, we have also hired a Grant Writing firm to help us attain extra money for programs and activities for all the schools. The funds provided by the grants will in turn allow the money originally intended for those programs/activities to be used in other areas.
Lisa Kohles:
The Borough of Bogota received a 0% tax increase this year in the school budget.  Our first goal is to continue the quality of our Student’s Education with the budget set in place for each year and maintaining every program set forth.
 Michael Leong:
In the upcoming year, it is not as important to spend more as it is to utilize more of what we have and to also get our priorities straight.  We need a superintendent and not an interim superintendent. We need to make sure our payroll for our teachers is operating correctly, so they can spend more time working with their students and not worrying about if the school system has them setup correctly. Happier teachers can then focus better on getting their students better prepared for whatever comes next for them.
Kim Virbukas:
The current and future budgets must be looked at, assessed and talked about on a weekly basis.  To do this the board must plan properly, this is not just putting numbers together we would need to have a list of all schools and what physical maintence needs to be done, all job openings, assessing all facilities being used, etc and then putting the numbers together all while assessing where we are ranked in NJ state and then planning how we can get that number higher to make our children more competitive after graduation.

-  With the improvements to the Science Lab and water fountains in the High School, what would you envision the next project upgrade for the High School.

Ronald Patron:
The BOE as a team should do an analysis to determine the most important and critical needs of our students.   The follow up plan of action to address these needs is crucial.
Amanda Montgomery:
The next big project is to revamp the drop off circle at the JR/SR HS. Plans are in the works to make the circle safer for the student pedestrians and allow for a better student drop-off area to ease vehicle traffic. The new circle will also allow easier access for deliveries and will provide extra parking spaces for faculty/staff.
Lisa Kohles:
The Board of Education has already taken steps with an approved budget in redesigning the front of the High School.  We plan to redesign the parking lot which our faculty and school employees park in.  Our design will also  make a safer pick-up and drop-off for our students with less traffic build up in the front of the school.  This past year we also completed a new Chemistry laboratory and are looking forward to pursuing a new Biology laboratory in the coming year.
Michael Leong:
The high school should continue to update the technology available in the classroom. Computers and tablets should become more available so that students can become more efficient in their use and can help brainstorm ways to utilize this tech into the classroom.
Kim Virbukas:
When you first walk up to the High School the road going around the front and up the side of the school needs to be fixed so does the street and with that we haven’t talked about the inside. The bathrooms could use an upgrade the speaker system in the auditorium could be better. The gym needs a little maintenance. What I’m saying is that there should be a walk through of the High School with a list being made of what needs to be improved, fixed or bought.  Another area for improvement class wise is the computer dept, technology is changing everyday our schools need to keep up.
Charlie Severino: 
The board has a plan in place to redesign the front of the high school that will make it safer for all students and quests to enter and leave the building and surrounding grounds.  We hope to have our professionals send the plan to the Dept. of Transportation for approval shortly.  I personally would like to upgrade the Biology Lab next year.

- What improvements need to be made to Bixby and Steen Schools

Amanda Montgomery:
Security.  Education and Safety go hand in hand, it’s important that we keep our children safe while they are learning. I would like to see more security cameras added and a keycard entry system installed (I’d like to see this in the JR/SR HS as well). I would also like to provide better outdoor lighting for students that participate in afterschool activities.
Lisa Kohles:
 Bixby school is in need for new windows.  Also with the increasing amount of storms which causes power outages at times we are looking to place generators in each of the elementary schools.
Michael Leong:
One of the more distracting elements through the seasons in school is HVAC.  For all the schools, it would be easier for our children to concentrate if they were not over heated and/or freezing through the day. It should also be appropriately zoned so all areas could be equally comfortable.
Kim Virbukas:
Just like the High School both of need to have a list of improvement that are needed. I could give you what I think but it would be much better to sit with each principal and find out from them what they think is most important and then budget for it.
Charlie Severino: 
Bixby needs new windows and both elementary schools will be receiving emergency back up generators shortly.
Ronald Patron:
Having served as a substitute teacher at each of the schools in Bogota, I can tell you that increased principal, teacher, and parent involvement is vital.

-  All three Schools have Principals with less than three years in that position ( High School Principal Damon Kennedy served as Vice Principal at the High School for six years prior to his current position) What can be done to have a stable Administration  in all three public school.

Lisa Kohles: 
We now have in place two new principles in the Bixby and Steen school.  I feel communication between the Administration, staff and Board of Education are the key to success in keeping principles in the District.
Michael Leong:
 Stability is a huge concern for our school system.  Finding a good fit our schools has been a serious challenge.  I would prefer to try hire from within our school system so the next administrator could start on the ground and running as soon as possible, already knowing exactly what they are getting into.
Kim Virbukas:
I think Bogota has had stability,  Mrs. Gattuso was with us for years and retired, she was with Bixby and retired when at the High School.  Mr. Watts was also with us for a number of years.  Stability comes from working together as a group and having the same goals.  The key is to have set goals and work towards them together as a community.
Charlie Severino: 
 I believe the key to keeping administrators is by having a competent Superintendent of Schools.  The reason Bogota has had turnovers in administrators is because of incompetence.  We can support them by giving them a superintendent that supports them.
Ronald Patron: 
We must have a top down approach of stability and accountability. Having a constant carousel of superintendents (13 within the past 20 years) does not promote an environment for our principals to feel supported.
Amanda Montgomery:
 Although they may be fairly new to Administration, all three Principals each have a minimum of 10 years’ experience in the education system. One major advantage of having a youthful Administration is being more acclimated with newer standards and technological advancements being made in the classrooms. This will hopefully allow for each student to receive a laptop/tablet. Technology is the future of education.

 This  Election Day 2016 , the polls are opening at 6:00a and remain open until 8:00p.
  Bogota Public Schools are closed due to the need for them to be polling stations. 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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