Five candidates are vying for two seats on the Caldwell-West Caldwell Board of Education that carry three-year terms on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Incumbent board members Rosanne Hansen and John King are seeking re-election, and are being challenged by Dan Cipoletti, Marie Lanfrank and Charles Alberta.
Every candidate was sent questions by the editor as part of The Caldwells Patch's Candidate Profile. Each candidate's response will be posted leading up to election day.
The following are the responses submitted by incumbent John King.
Why are you running for a seat on the Caldwell-West Caldwell Board of Education?
I originally ran for the School Board three years ago for a number of reasons. I had retired from the Reserves and wanted to find another outlet to serve the community. I felt with my credentials as well as having five children in the school system I would best serve the community on the School Board.
Also, because property taxes were rising at a much higher rate than inflation, yet student proficiency, buildings and grounds, as well as technology in the school were not getting any better.
After being on the Board and studying the situation, I determined that our stagnation was not because the funding was too low, but about how the funds were being allocated.
During my tenure on the board from 2010-13, the school tax increase was only a total of 1.4 percent. This being done while increasing student proficiency, instituting the STEM program at the middle school and reworking our technology department.
There is a lot of unfisihed business that I would like to see through. There are capital improvement projects being developed, our newly created technology department as well as shared services meetings.
What makes you qualified for the position?
I credit my education, which includes a master’s degree in finance along with 28 years of business experience working in the banking industry. I have been able to bring my budget experience as well as negotiating skills to the district.
Also, with my oldest daughter graduated and four more children that are currently attending the high school, middle school and elementary school, I have the opportunity to talk to and listen to parents concerns within the district.
What are the three biggest challenges facing the school district in your opinion?
Giving students the skills to succeed in today’s challenging world. I am very pleased that we were able to institute a STEM (acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program at the Middle School. These types of classes give students the skills to think critically, solve complex problems and drive advancements in science and technology.
Improving the school district’s technology. I feel we fell behind and the district is currently addressing this issue as we have hired a technology supervisor along with creating an in-house support staff.
This new strategy will replace our past approach of hiring consultants. This newly created department will be more effective and will not be more costly as it will replace the outside consultants.
We need to invest in our buildings and athletic fields. With our taxes and spending now under better control, I believe we can now focus on these overdue infrastructure improvements.
The goal is to make these investments and be able to cover any debt service payments within the current property tax cap. I believe this can be done by sharing services with the towns, taking full advantage of grant opportunities and using the same type of sound financial management that has kept property tax increases very low over the past three years.
What school-related issues would you focus on if you were elected?
Expand the STEM program to the other schools within the district.
Monitor and see through the development of the district’s technology department.
Continue the work on developing a bond referendum to address infrastructure improvements to our buildings and athletic fields.
Continue to work with the towns on shared services to enhance efficiencies and keep the property taxes down.
What is the single-most important asset you can bring to the board if you were elected?
I feel I provide a voice of reason and compromise between the board and community. I believe the time has come where it is critical to have an open line of communication.
In the past, there was little communication between the towns and school board and I feel in last three years I was instrumental in opening up these lines.