SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Three incumbents will face two potential newcomers for three, three-year seats on the South Brunswick Board of Education.
Patrick Del Piano, Arthur Robinson and Deven Patel will try to retain their seats against Deep H. Shukla and Mahendra S. Patel. Deven Patel, Mahendra Patel and Anilkumar Patel – who is running for an unexpired term on the board – are not related.
Martin Abschutz is not running for reelection.
Deven M. Patel is a 14-year resident of South Brunswick. His 14-year-old triplets are in the ninth grade.
A civil engineer by trade, he has served on the school board for six years. He has been chairman of the South Brunswick Transportation Advisory Committee, represents South Brunswick at the Middlesex County Transportation Committee, is an alternate on the Board of Directors from Middlesex County at the New Jersey School Boards Association and is vice president of the Indo-American Cultural Foundation of New Jersey.
“As part of the Curriculum Committee for the South Brunswick School Board, I will continue to monitor that curriculum is up-to-date and our children are getting the most current and best education. I will also ensure that all clubs and extra curriculum activities in areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), athletics, music, the arts and academics stay and add a few more if needed. I will continue to support programs that assist children with special needs and children in the middle. I will focus on the achievement gap to make sure that we reach all children who are in need of support and provide them so that achievement gap is none or very small,” he said.
He also said that he will continue to make sure that school taxes do not increase unreasonably by monitoring the expenditures done by the school district.
“At the same time I will ensure that all taxpayers’ money goes to classroom for children’s best education. As an alternate board of directors for the NJSBA, I will continue to work on to bring more funding from the state. Also, I will look into getting more revenue to the school district and many money-saving avenues,” he said.
He also said he would like to work with newly elected governor to make sure that all children get education based on the right curriculum and not based on testing.
“We need to prepare our children in such a way that they are ready for the 21st-century work force or for entrepreneurship, and that will happen by not focusing or giving more emphasis on standardized tests,” he said. “I will continue to monitor that children’s wellbeing is always the focus of the school district along with all educators. Healthy and motivated educators = healthy and motivated children = healthy and motivated world.”
Mahendra S. Patel has lived in town for more than 20 years. His three children graduated from the South Brunswick school system.
He is an IT database administrator at a large New Jersey-based corporation.
He trained with the South Brunswick Police Department’s Citizen Police Academy, has been serving on the South Brunswick Rent Control Board since 2007, is an active member of local South Asian Association, as well as volunteer within other non-profit organizations in the area.
Patel said, if elected, he will ensure that students are able to be more competitive by having access to quality education. He also said encouraging the commitment of parents, staff members and teachers to work together in a secure learning environment is necessary.
“Retaining outstanding educators and maintaining extracurricular activities to support quality education will be the key to success,” he said.
In addition, he said he will work for the school district’s financial strength.
“Our state’s financial position and our legislators’ decisions will have an impact on how well our school can function, so we need to stay on top of the changes that may impact us financially and look for community shared service programs while also finding cost optimizations to maintain financial strength in the district,” he said.
Robinson is a 28-year resident. His son graduated from South Brunswick High School in 2007.
He is a manager and retired U.S. Navy commander; a certified public manager for the Food and Drug Administration Commission for New Jersey Radiological Health program; a school board member since 2008; a member of the VFW Post 9111; and an auxiliary member the South Brunswick Lions Club.
The three issues he is focusing on during his campaign are a quality education for each and every child in order for him/her to succeed in any career path, adequate resources for special education and personalized academic improvement measures for each child through parent and teacher involvement.
“I would continue to work with my colleagues on the board and our community to ensure that each and every child has the necessary skills to exceed academically for college or develop skills for trade school. I would continue working with the board to ensure adequate resources are available to assist our kids requiring special services. In addition, I would continue my advocacy for kids that deserve caring attention to succeed in life. I would continue working with the board to track the academic performance of each cohort of kids K-12 to ensure that testing measures are meaningful in determining the academic progress of each kid,” he said.
Shukla has lived in South Brunswick since 1997 after moving from 1997. He received a bachelor’s degree in commerce in India, and then an associate’s degree in business management and a bachelor’s in business administration in the U.S.
He owned Deep Petroleum & Auto Center in Monroe for more than 10 years, was a manager of 7-Eleven in Trenton for two years, and is a current partner at Route 18 Liquor in Old Bridge.
He was an executive committee member/joint secretary for the Indo-American Cultural Foundation Of Central Jersey for four years, and is currently a general committee member.
He said he has experience dealing with big corporations, budgets and planning, cost management, human resource and retail one-on-one customer relations.
“If elected, this experience of mine will give me the opportunity to look into matters more precisely and make sure that the outcome is positive and maximizes the use of our tax dollars. I am really interested in looking into departments like transportation, hiring, teaching techniques and whatever it takes to bring the best out of our children. With the experience and knowledge that I have gained while dealing with the big companies and dealing with issues on a daily basis give me the confidence and ability to resolve matters and work with others in groups and individually,” he said.
With his two daughters in the fifth and first grades at Constable Elementary School, he said he wants “the best for my kids and for yours.” He said he has been involved with the Parent Teacher Organizations at Constable and at Dayton Elementary School by providing his services as a deejay free of charge.
“I believe that my experience will help in making our schools better for a brighter tomorrow, as I strongly believe that education is a must and that is one thing no one can take it away from you,” he said.
Del Piano could not be reached by press time.
Election Day is Nov. 7.