By Matthew Sockol
FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – The Freehold Township K-8 School District Board of Education will have three three-year terms up for grabs on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The terms of board members Daniel DiBlasio, Jennifer Patten and Staci Triandafellos will expire at the end of December.
Five candidates are seeking the three seats: DiBlasio, Patten, Triandafellos, Nicolas Montalto and Elena S. O’Sullivan.
Montalto could not be reached for comment.
DiBlasio is an accountant and program management officer and has lived in Freehold Township since 1997. He joined the board in 2007.
“I am seeking re-election to continue addressing the needs of the district’s special education population and to watch more closely as we become a more fiscally responsible board,” DiBlasio said. “We want to become more transparent and get the community involved in our budget.
“Being an accountant helps me understand the fiscal aspects of the budget and having a special needs daughter who went through the district helps me understand what we are lacking and where we have to head toward in the area of special education.”
If re-elected, DiBlasio said three areas of focus for him will be helping middle level students excel more, getting more participation from parents in creating the district’s budget and having senior citizens become more involved in the school district.
O’Sullivan is an educator, currently serving as an adjunct lecturer with Brooklyn College, and as an active mentor in the college’s teaching fellows program, and has lived in Freehold Township for 26 years. She previously worked in the New York City Department of Education for 33 years.
“I am seeking a seat on the board to bring my experience of education to Freehold Township,” O’Sullivan said. “I want to be instrumental in making sure teachers and administrations have the tools they need to make all students productive members of society. The students are the primary focus and I see that I have the abilities and the time to help our children grow in their thinking processes as well as aptitude.
“I believe my 33 years in public education, together with formal education and continued passion in this field, provide a solid foundation and positions me well to serve the students of Freehold Township. I am a seasoned professional who has effectively worked with school administrators, teachers, students and parents to develop a successful school community,” she said.
If elected, O’Sullivan said three areas of focus for her will be the effective use and implementation of technology as a teaching tool, ensuring that the middle level student is not overlooked and enhancing existing programs accordingly, and parent advocacy, ensuring that parents are informed about the learning initiatives set by the state and district as well as the effects on their child’s learning progress.
Patten is retired, previously worked in corporate communications for the New York Stock Exchange, and has lived in Freehold Township for most of her life. She joined the board in 2012 and also serves the community as a recreation commissioner.
She said she is seeking re-election because she has four young children and cares about the education of the children in the community.
“In the corporate world, transparency, professionalism and collaboration were so important. Those attributes are still vital in my journey as parent, community member and hopefully in continued service as school board member,” Patten said.
If re-elected, Patten said she would continue to ensure that early childhood concerns, special needs and an overstressed budget are constantly being examined. Patten said that as a board member it is necessary to work with eight other board members to set a tone for the district.
Triandafellos is retired, previously worked for a manufacturing company responsible for product design and marketing, and has lived in Freehold Township for 18 years. She joined the board this year to complete an unexpired term.
“I am seeking election to help ensure our children, no matter their ability, are prepared for success in high school and beyond,” Triandafellos said. “Most residents chose Freehold Township because of the reputation of our school district. My children have been greatly served by this district and I believe it is now time to give back to the school system that has given my children so much.
“I have watched our district grow into a leader in education and I want to keep setting the bar higher. The most important responsibility of our community is providing the children a standard of excellence in education that sets a foundation for their future. As a board member, I will work toward this goal.
“I worked in my family owned retail business and for large manufacturing companies. My experiences have taught me to think creatively and critically. I understand the importance of collaboration, communication and transparency.
“With these skills, I can help initiate constructive discussions on important issues that face our board; issues such as budget planning, evaluating educational policies and setting district goals that enhance our schools. In addition, I believe my 15 years of community service working with our teachers, parents and students provides the guidance needed to be an effective board member,” she said.
If elected, Triandafellos said three areas of focus for her will be finding ways to increase revenue and reduce costs in the district’s budget with a specific focus on income generating programs, continuing to provide professional development and training for teachers, and continually evaluating district policies and curriculum to ensure the board provides future success for students.