Bridgewater-Raritan School Board Election 2022: Steven Singer
BRIDGEWATER, NJ — The Bridgewater-Raritan Regional Board of Education general election on Nov. 8 has seven candidates for four open seats.
Incumbent Steven Singer is running under the campaign slogan “Singer for BRRSD” for one of three three-year full-term seats representing Bridgewater.
The opposing candidates are Saad Toor, Emily Calistri, Sally Bartlett, Lynne Hurley, Lanfang “Lucy” li and June Wang.
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There is also a one year unexpired seat representing Raritan open. There are no candidates for this seat at this time.
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(All candidates received the same questions)
Town of residence : Bridgewater
Job sought : Re-election to school board
Family: wife and 2 children
Education: Rutgers University BA 1998; MBA from Rutgers University 1999; Benjamin N. Cardozo JD School of Law 2002
Previous or current elected mandate: Bridgewater-Raritan School Board
Campaign website: N / A
Why are you seeking to present yourself to the school board?
I have been honored to represent the community of Bridgewater as a member of the school board for the past three years. People often ask me why I decided to stand for school elections. It was not to advocate for a particular program or in response to a particular situation. My children have had wonderful teachers at all levels in this district and I have had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful staff, administrators, coaches and parents over the past decade. I am running for re-election to the Board because I believe my knowledge and experience as a member of the Board of Education can help ensure that the district’s goal of providing a quality, affordable education for every student continues. to be reached.
School safety has been an issue raised recently. Do you think the board and administration are handling this properly? And why?
School security is the responsibility of the superintendent and his administration. The security procedures followed by schools are, of necessity, strictly confidential; publishing security details weakens the integrity of security in the school. However, the district council and administration have been transparent about security personnel. There have been numerous presentations and reports on security staffing, both internal and external, at Council meetings since April.
The superintendent has proposed a comprehensive plan to expand security coverage throughout the district. The board approved the addition of security personnel to our BR staff with incredible work histories that include working as School Resource Officers (SROs) and Class 3 Officers, training officers on implementing the SRO program in other school districts, training New Jersey State Police officers in gun safety, serving as DARE instructors, coordinating school safety drills, and working on presidential security details, among other accomplishments too numerous to include here. The District is fortunate to have these accomplished professionals on staff.
The Superintendent’s proposed plan is not one that forges uncharted territory. Many comparable districts in our area, including Watchung Hills, Edison, Piscawatay, and East Brunswick, successfully employ Campus Monitors to supplement Class 3 Officers and School Resource Officers provided in conjunction with their municipalities. It worked in other districts, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work in Bridgewater.
A referendum is underway to focus on repairing school building infrastructure and adding full-time kindergartens. How do you feel about this?
It will not be surprising if I support the next referendum. I served as chair of the finance, facilities and transportation committee during the school facilities audit and chair of the board when the referendum plans were presented to the district. This referendum allows the district to make necessary improvements to buildings in each of our schools, many of which were built 60 years ago. During the hot months of June and September (and May and October), our students and staff are seated in classrooms without air conditioning. These are not the best conditions for learning or teaching, and the referendum will directly address this need throughout the district. The entrances to the school will undergo renovations to improve security, which is always a top priority for the board and administration. Improvements will be made to the sports complex, which is the face of our athletics program, including renovated washroom facilities. Many other updates included in the proposed referendum cover areas that will keep school facilities running for years to come. This part of the referendum is comprehensive, affects all schools in the district, and is essential to the continued success of our students and staff. The Council made difficult choices and devoted considerable attention to keeping this first part of the referendum as close as possible to fiscal neutrality in order to maintain the level of taxes. This referendum is an investment that will benefit our students and residents of Bridgewater for years to come.
The second part of the referendum aims to make room in our elementary schools for a full-day kindergarten program. Implementing full-day kindergarten in our district will have a demonstrable impact on the foundational reading and math skills of our students, especially children who may not have access to alternative K-12 programs. full time, throughout their school career. The district administration has developed a cost-effective and faster way to implement full-day kindergarten, which provides the opportunity to align the curriculum by returning the 6th grade to middle school. Although this second part of the referendum comes with a tax increase, the tax impact is estimated to be less than $120 per year for the average home assessed in Bridgewater. The educational benefits for our children and future generations of Bridgewater residents will be far greater. I support the district plan and hope our community members will help us make full-day kindergarten a reality for our families.
What other issues do you think need to be addressed in the school district?
The district tackles difficult issues daily, made even more difficult by statewide and nationwide staffing shortages at multiple levels. The district is still struggling with a shortage of transportation personnel, which is reflected in the continued change in school schedules from last year. Although BR benefits from being considered an attractive destination, districts across the state and nation are facing shortages of nurses, substitute teachers, and qualified teachers. Our district has taken a proactive approach to these issues; making necessary changes to salaries, restoring the student-teacher program and hiring potential candidates at job fairs are just some of the steps the administration is taking to address the issue. We have wonderful staff at all levels in our schools, which can never be taken for granted. At the same time, the district has to deal with high inflation rates and a budget capped at 2% increase, which makes budgeting increasingly difficult. All of this requires foresight to determine where best to direct our limited resources, both in terms of staffing and budgeting. Our administration is top-notch and up to the challenges the district will face in the future.
What sets you apart from other demanding candidates?
What sets me apart from candidates hoping to secure a seat on the board is my experience as a board member and my commitment to serving the community. During my short tenure on the board, I was named chair of the finance, facilities and transportation committee and, last January, unanimously elected chair of the school board. As president, I had the opportunity to attend all committee meetings, giving me insight into all aspects of the district. As a third-year board member, I understand the considerable time and effort required to effectively serve this community.
Prior to my election to the Board, I served my community in other ways. I was treasurer of the Adamsville School PTO for four years. I served on the steering committee that developed the district’s most recent strategic plan. Additionally, I was appointed in 2017 by the Mayor of Bridgewater to serve on the Township’s Camp Cromwell Development Task Force. If elected, I will continue to serve the community to the best of my ability.
What else would you like to share about yourself or your campaign?
My family has lived in Bridgewater for almost 20 years and my children grew up in the Bridgewater-Raritan School District. Our journey through the many levels of our school district has been positive, as I hope it is for most of our students and their parents.
Bridgewater-Raritan has an excellent reputation, with so much to be proud of academically, artistically and athletically. My goal as a board member is to ensure that all students continue to benefit from the incredible staff and wonderful opportunities that characterize Bridgewater-Raritan for years to come.
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